My first day in the beautiful city of Lviv involved walking down a small side-street to find a Borscht restaurant. On the way back I saw a group of people hunched over bowls of what seemed like Ramen, so I had to go have a better look. Sure enough, Noa was newly opened, and serving up Lviv's answer to Ramen. I had to try it.
First off, every country has their own peculiar spin or style of ramen, the Eastern Europeans seemingly love lettuce and other vegetables like broccoli in theirs, which isn't always a success. I ordered the Chashu Ramen, hold the corn (and throw it into a dark dungeon somewhere). I'll start by pointing out that this chashu pork is up there with some of the best i've tried outside Japan. Utterly faultless, texture and flavour just utterly mesmerising. The egg too was perfectly cooked, perfectly prepared and the soy-marinate was not too strong or sweet. The broth itself had some staying power but was a little lacking in deep flavours, but the main culprit were the noodles. Home-made but with the texture of spaghetti thats both al dente and over-cooked at the same time. A bizarre experience.
I went back another day to try the beef one (below) and the broth was better, fattier, deeper but the meat itself was chewy. Everything else was about the same as the Chashu bowl. Still, a medium-good bowl of Ramen trumps a lot of other things in my books.
I know... I know... Odessa, Ukraine? RAMEN? WTF?
After gorging myself silly in Kadikoy for 2 weeks straight, I just had to have a bowl of Ramen to restore peace and order in my soul. I was googling frantically the night before I flew to Odessa and noticed they had a spot that did Momo's & Ramen. How could I not try?
Situated downtown, about 3 blocks from my Airbnb I ventured out on a blistery midday (perfect for ramen), and sat in the far corner, opposite to where the 20 or so other people were busy laughing, watching their iPhones and engaged in conversation. I found a corner with no neighbours and a wall to stare at. The bowl arrived. It looked rather odd, broccoli floating on top (I had asked for them to omit the corn, which they did) and all sorts of veggies that normally don't end up in a bowl of Ramen.
Putting my predjudice aside, I sipped the broth.... actually pretty ok. Dashi-Shoyu-ish flavour. The noodles were far overcooked an mushy, the pork tasted good but was just regular stewed pork and had no marinade flavour. The egg was actually superb, very well cooked and marinated nicely. Shockingly enough, this was a better bowl of ramen than I have had anywhere in Oslo (shame on you), so never discount a place based on it's location. Last year, remember, Kazu in Slovakia had one of the best Shoyu Ramen outside of Japan.
If you're ever in Odessa.., Try it.
It's always a gamble trying "ethnic fare" in small, strange places. However, sometimes you get a positive surprise.
Christina had mentioned that there was a small Pho place in a market area on the outskirts of Odesa. Curiosity got the better of me and I summoned an Uber and headed off for the 15 minute ride. The weather was blisteringly hot, but thankfully the restaurant had an indoor area with AC. I ordered a beef pho, and twiddled my thumbs in anticipation.
What arrived at my table was actually pretty darn decent. It tasted better than some Pho i've even had in Vietnam, because the most important part (the broth) was on point. They had a few cultural differences including a hard boiled egg, but i'll let that slip. The beef wasn't exceptional quality, but the price reflected that. Everything else was surprisingly good, and I left with a full stomach and google translate compliments to the two Vietnamese chefs.
The quest to find a decent bowl of ramen in every country on earth.