Restaurant Review: Ikemen Ramen Bar

>> Friday, August 28, 2015

A couple of us were talking about ramen not too long ago and one of my friends mentioned that he wasn’t able to find a good ramen place in town. I was shocked of course and wanted to hear more. This was before he reminded me that he didn’t eat pork. I forgot. Since all ramen soup bases are mainly stewed from pork bones, it was near impossible for him to find a good ramen place in town that didn’t serve a pork broth. Enter Ikemen, a new ramen bar that recently opened in Kensington close to other ramen places such as Muku and Menyatai, with the main difference in that they serve chicken based broths. I had to go check it out.

Atmosphere: Warm wooden interior surround the dining room to allow their patrons to really focus on the enjoyment of their ramen bowls.

Price Range: Mid $10s

Food: It’s really all about the chicken broth ramen here, but we also wanted to give their appetizers a try especially since the Tako Carpaccio soundly quite inviting. Thinly sliced pieces of octopus are served with a citrusy ginger yuzu dressing, radishes and onions making for a light start to our meal. It was a great way to really cleanse the palate. The octopus had a nice texture and was not chewy, a twist on the conventional carpaccio.

I also wanted to try the Spicy Salmon Roll which again was a slightly different from the normal roll. This version includes tempura crumbs and cucumber inside then topped with salmon and chili peppers. I liked the added crunch from the tempura bits, especially for those who find salmon to be a bit mushy. The addition of the chilis to the spicy mayo gives it a bit more of a kick. I love spicy food so anything to up the ante is a win in my books.

Although all their appetizers were delicious, we were definitely there to try out their ramen noodles, made with chicken broth instead of the typical pork bones, making it friendly for those who don’t eat pork. I ordered the Spicy Miso Ramen topped with a soft boiled egg, cabbage, garlic chips, sesame seeds, kale and char siu. The benefit of using chicken as a base for the broth made for a lighter soup which still had quite a bit of flavour. Although for those traditional ramen connoisseurs it may or may not stand up to their love of the pork bone soup base. I really enjoyed the taste of the char siu which was flavourful without being salty and the cook of my egg was perfect having the right amount of runniness in the yolk. I definitely preferred the soup spicy and will definitely be ordering it again this way in the future. I actually wouldn’t have minded if it was even a bit spicier!

The hubby got the Green Curry Seafood Ramen, a change from his usual miso or shio order. He liked the flavours of the coconut milk mixed in with the chicken broth and felt it was definitely different from what he was used to but in a good way. Topped with tomato, basil, lime zest, mushrooms, kale, jumbo red prawn, mussel, scallop, it was more reminiscent of a thai curry rather than a ramen noodle bowl. I had a couple bites and didn’t mind the flavours but did find that I liked my choice better.

To end the meal our server mentioned that they had Cinnamon Mochis for dessert and we didn’t look back. The mochis were soft on the inside and lightly fried for a crisp outer layer, dusted with cinnamon sugar it was like an Asian mini donut. I really enjoyed it coupled with their House Made Ice Cream, which was green tea that day. Flavours change often so be sure to ask your server!

My Pick: Spicy Miso Ramen, Cinnamon Mochi

Overall: Although I’m a huge fan of pork based ramen, I have to admit that I also quite enjoyed the chicken based broth. I found it to be lighter than the conventional ramen broth and it’ll be a great option for those who can’t eat pork, like a couple of my friends. Even though you’re there for the noodles, I highly recommend trying some of their appetizers as well and hopefully you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Ikemen Ramen Bar
217 10 Street NW
Calgary, AB
(403) 452-2148

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