Rating: 6 / 10
Disclaimer: I was part of the pre-cursor to Koie, Tanpopo Ramen, which was an irregular pop-up that floated around backyards of clubs, festivals and even a sausage-themed bar. We were some of the first people to try to make ramen in a city where the correct ingredients were near impossible to procure (back then). Things have gotten easier, and by default the quality of the products should have too, but that isn't always the case.
Tanpopo Ramen came and went, and our idea's of pursuing it differed. The ethos, agreement and vision were not conducive to pressing forward so the other partner followed her dreams and enrolled the help of a chef and started Koie.
As can be the case with such things, it took me a while to check out Koie. It was mostly a reluctance to want to engage in past cloaks, but also perhaps an inkling of uncomfortable vibes that were best left untreated. However, time floods us with new interests and passive distractions, and one sunny day the doors were opened and in we went, to see what all the fuss was about.
Apart from the deafening absurdity of clanging voices stuttering and becoming louder in the monstrously designed locale, being a tinnitus sufferer this was like sitting inside a cement machine and I immediately thought of leaving. My friends didn't mind that I put in earplugs and we sat, resumed, and went through the menu.
It was decided that we would order different bowls and therefore could at least scoop a spoonful of the others to judge the efforts. I went for the Nagoya, not only because is was the only one without the hellish vomit of tinned sweetcorn, but also because I had heard from numerous friends that the Tonkotsu was not their winner.
I sat in a bubble of my own thoughts, earplugs rammed in as hard as they could do try dampen the shrill howls. The hip server knocked me out of my stupor by placing the bowl down. Before trying it I tasted a spoonful of my friends Tonkotsu. It was not a triumph. It had a weak, cream-like taste instead of a deep, fatty, creamy taste. It was wildly wrong.
The Nagoya Ramen had a fairly good taste to it, broth wise, although returning to the creamy point I made before, this was greasy instead of fatty. Not the lovely pools of oil you see gently skipping along the surface of a well made Pho or Beef Noodle Soup, more the coat-your-mouth type of oily baptism that is quite unpleasant.
In keeping with balance; the noodles were far better than the curly tripe down at Sapporo, the egg was bang on standard and the ground meat was neither here nor there. A few beansprouts for crunch and some mandolined greens finished up the decor.
I didn't finish it. For me the broth is the main thing I care about in ramen and this just kept attacking me with fat. I left a good deal of it, paid the rather spicy cheque, exited the door into the relative silence of downtown Oslo, pulled out my earplugs and felt satisfied that I had tried it, but not overly keen to go back again.
I'll wait a year or two to see if they have edited themselves, or perhaps invested in some acoustic solutions.
These recommendations are just personal opinions based on my palate, things change, chefs get fired or replaced, places open-close, relocate, so take it all with a pinch of MSG and discover your own gems too. But please do try a few of these, they have been researched exhaustively.
"Tastes are subjective, so take everything with a pinch of salty tears"