Most of you know that Pho and Ramen are two of my favourite dishes, so I judge them punishingly hard based on 30+ years of gorging on one type or another, in their native countries and various others. Sometimes you find a jewel of a Pho place in the strangest corner (like Odesa) but this was not one of those cases.
The rain was pummelling down on us as we hurried to get a bite before the start of the Champions League final. We sat the sign barking at us from across the road and decided a hot, comforting bowl of Pho would be the perfect medicine for the match.
We descended into the basement where a very hip crowd of mostly white people sat stuffing their faces with Vietnamese fare. I automatically worried. The service was decent, the prices rather insane, and the atmosphere slightly tacky. Beef pho with meatballs and rare steak.
All in all the meat was decent, though some pieces had a rather mealy texture to them, the noodles were standard, the accompaniments all the usual (deep fried shallots too), but the main problem was the broth. Overly sweet, not balanced at all. The type of broth you take one spoonful and think this might be promising and then its all downhill after. I wouldn't return. It really was that sweet, an the price didn't hold back either.
The first time I visited Momotoko was their other downtown branch, and left with a slightly let-down feeling. The broth was a bit insipid, the pork, eggs, noodles were all just that bit average. They also threw in snap peas and arugula which I thought odd, but each to their own.
Daniel said they had improved so we decided to give them another shot. Drove out there with the cousins and piled in our orders before hiding in the corner (I ordered mine without corn of course). The next 10 minutes proved that progress is possible. All the elements were better than last time, even tho the broth still needs a bit of depth. Overall it was a good bowl of soup and one that I would have again if in Helsinki and suffering cravings.
You just knew it when you entered the place that these people had no clue about Ramen.
Look at that broth? Looks like dishwater. Pulled Pork? Squeeze of Sriracha or some other generic hot sauce? Overcooked egg, huge chunks of spring onion and a dusting of sesame seeds? NO NO FINLAND!
You have to do better than this.
The quest to find a decent bowl of ramen in every country on earth.