The Tom Jones Singalong – Ramo Ramen.

“A beloved dish has found its new home in Kentish Town. The perfect combination of tradition and innovation, Ramo Ramen is reinventing a Japanese staple with flavours of the Philippines. . .”

Sometimes you have to concede that you are about to research on a place that you previously wouldn’t have known anything about. The wikipedia article of Japan-Philippines relations, paints a a fractured picture throughout their histories, marred by colonialism. And while no doubt conflict is a bad thing, it has pushed food into creative territories, such as how Korea began their style of fried chicken. The meeting of different cultures makes hybrids and fusions. In this case, Japanese food, styled with the street style makings of Philippines. In Britain, ramen is usually written off as instant noodle packets. The likes of super noodles or pot noodles do nothing to talk about the history and cultural depth that traditional ramen has in parts of Asia. Thankfully, Ramo Ramen are a fantastic ambassador for their own style. Firstly, their website is incredibly well designed. There’s a lot of professional photography, and there’s lots of confident writing about their food and what they do. As a brand I find them cohesive and extremely well presented.

“. . . The meat of the oxtail is so tender. A smooth, smooth velvet pile drenched in rich, soupy flavour. . . “

The set up is basic but you’ll be focusing on the food before long.

It’s tuesday lunchtime, although I’d be curious to come here on a friday or saturday night as it has that kind of air to it. Plain white walls, on dark blue with doakery: woods on woods on woods. Stepping inside, the restaurant is beautifully air conditioned. Ramo reallys plays up it’s pan-Asian design, I’m guessing that it’s pan-Asian instead of Japan-Philippines fusion because there’s an ink splatter drawing of Jackie Chan. Who is Chinese. There is a lovely large sign advertising Ramo Ramen with the sort of 80s design, like the font you’d see on posters of Thor Ragnarok.

Shazam has been my friend during this visit. They’re playing a deep cut Kanye West playlist and it’s just at a nice, low hum. However, if we’re going to mention the music I have to tell you the chef is audible throughout the whole meal, singing along proudly to his own playlist of Al Martino and lots and lots of Tom Jones. I’m kinda impressed by it to be honest. I can’t tell if he’s simply having the time of life making this amazing food or it’s just establishing his territory. The waitress whispered to me that it’s like this all the time. But that’s not a complaint, the food is amazing so whatever he’s doing, it’s working. Sing on.

Oxtail Kare Kare (£12.50.) Absolutely mindblowing.

Going through the roster of vividly described food on their menu, we chose the “spotlit” Katsu curry and the Championship winning Oxtail Kare Kare. And to drink: £8 for a twenty percent strength 330ml bottle of hot Sake? Seems to good to be true. It comes in a wine bottle holder filled with steaming hot water to keep it at temp. This gives it a pungent smell, like a sweet porridge of musky umami. I’m told holding it in the mouth for a minute or so, it tastes more potent than a straight Smirnoff. It’s stinging, and the waitress warns, it is “very strong”. We know when we’re warned. So it was sipped slowly over the course of the meal with a tumbler of water too.

“. . . letting these pieces soak into the mildly spicy sauce and balanced it so well. Spicy and peppery. . .

The meat of the oxtail is so tender. A smooth, smooth velvet pile drenched in rich, soupy flavour. The fluid of the broth, a creamy peanut-beef stock was so unique and savoury. It’s easy to forgive I guess. Especially if it means flavour and fragrance as good as this. It’s the perfect autumn weather food, warming to the bones and soothing to the soul. The niitamago eggs are incredibly well done, just so packed with flavour. In that sweet spot of hard enough to stay in the bowl but soft enough to fall apart in the mouth, gorgeously eggy-gooey goodness. And the noodles soak in that water, staying in that flavour. The mix of vegetables: spring onions, fermented bamboo shoots, and nori seaweed give a wonderfully rich taste. The peanut & beef broth is so savoury, warming and plain, dam, delicious. A bowl full of this would excellent for most “I’m hungry” situations. You can read more about how proud they are of this dish here. What I will say is that it’s worth the hype. Incredible food.

Admittedly not the best photo but the Katsu curry (£12) is amazing too.

The katsu has a far stronger peppery smell, and I almost don’t want to spoil the rice and chicken presentation. Almost. That sauce; described simply on the menu as “Japanese curry sauce” is glittered with spices, sprinkled throughout. Those spices and spring onion and the jasmine rice is so well done, so savoury. Wonderful. Glorious. Sadly I can’t find a part of their blog where they talk about their katsu, because I’m really interested in what is in that sauce directly. You’ll have to take it from me, it’s blindin’.

The bread crumbed chicken seasoning just has a touch too much salt, but letting these pieces soak into the mildly spicy sauce and balanced it so well. Spicy and peppery. Coated in that gorgeous sauce was a wonder. I’d be curious if they would sell a bowl of these chicken bits on their own as a side. Keeping that chicken company are some plump and fatty tempura prawns with some juicy light meat flavouring. The batter is fantastic, enjoyably crispy without being too heavy. Lastly, I’ve never been a huge fan of rice but their Jasmine rice soaks into the sauce and collects up the flavour, like the noodles.

The sake bitterness is a beautiful contrast to the sweet, savoury flavours of curry and broth.

£8 for a bottle of hot Sake.

To put this bluntly, Ramo Ramen are incredible. Asian food is a pretty bottomless subject, however I couldn’t have chosen a better place to pick for one of our first visits to Asian cuisine. This is another one of those places where I’ve lamented having to leave and move onto other places, the restaurant had other things on the menu. It’s easy to tell how their kare kare won Battle of the Broths. It’s easy to see why the chef is singing so enthusiastically. They deliver.

*

. . . back to the homepage.

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