I told myself that if I went out and got slightly badgered on Friday night I would wake up Saturday afternoon, walk the 600 meters to Biwako, and allow the healing powers of Ramen to enter my system.
I followed the plan despite all obstacles, including intense rain and no umbrella. Found the place, was greeting by two lovely waitresses and an old sleeping Japanese man in the corner. Got my seat, ordered a Miso Ramen with pork and egg, and a Kirin.
To review this ramen would be easier by breaking it down into distinct categories:
THE BROTH: Average, lacking any sort of umami, no depth, no real re-spoonable taste.
THE NOODLES: Possibly some of the worst ramen noodles i've had since Sapporo in Oslo. I order mine HARD in Japan, but these had the texture of raw noodles or noodles cooked in lukewarm water.
THE PORK: Extremely salty, decent texture and flavour apart from the saline overload.
THE EGG: Utterly forgettable. Overcooked, half the yoke was missing, no marinade.
THE TOPPINGS: Dead, soggy spinach? Strange, and very overpowering intense spring onion, far more acrid than anything I had in Japan or elsewhere to be honest.
4/10 (Because the service was good and the pork, although salty, gave it an extra point)
You can search a city, and find the best things are close to home. Our final day in Berlin our friend Philip mentioned that he had it on good authority that a Ramen spot in Friedrichshain served up the best bowls in town. It was a stiflingly hot day, not exactly the kind of day you feel like having steaming hot broth, but the curiosity to finally find a brag-able bowl in the city was too hard to ignore.
The recommendation was right. By far the best Ramen in Berlin so far. Almost the best in Europe so far, but that crown still lays firmly on the head of the wonderful Ramen Kazu in Bratislava.
Pork = Beautifully cooked, great marinade, charred and smoky.
Noodles = Chewy, springy, solid.
Broth = A tiny bit on the thin side for me but still much more flavoursome than the other options.
Egg = Actually better at Takumi Nine, but its a small detail to fret about when the rest was good.
Condiments = Wood ear mushrooms, pickled ginger, spring onions all in their rightful place.
Service = Quick and very friendly.
Well, finding a bowl of exceptional ramen in Bratislava was not exactly on the cards. This, however, is why I always try Ramen places wherever I go, the surprise is worth it.
Berlin has its fair share of excellent dining options to suit every budget, from the swank places to the satisfying Doner at 3am on the walk of shame home. Ramen is something I had never tried on my previous visits so it was high time. We headed to Takumi Nine by the tram from Friedrichshein, struggled a bit to find it since its on a cross street and not the address on the website, sat outside and ordered a Miso and a Shoyu.
My first objection was the sight of canned babycorn in the broth. A big no-no from my perspective. Second, the token Naruto which nobody actually goes for first. Thirdly, the flabby, slimy chicken skin and thin looking broth.
All in all it was a rather clumsy attempt. The noodles were fine, the egg was the best part, the broth was watery and started to taste better a bit further into the meal, but had an off-putting sweetness which is usually offset by bursts of umami. I barely ate the chicken, and the Menma was too far soaked in sesame seed oil that was overpowering. Different strokes for different folks, but this was one too many for me.
The quest to find a decent bowl of ramen in every country on earth.