Kanada-Ya on St Giles High Street opened its doors in September 2014 and has since cultivated a large following with its special brand of ramen. Kanada-Ya is the brainchild of the award winning tonkostu broth master Mr Kanada who has been making ramen in Japan since 2009. It specialises only in tonkostu ramen and does not stray into shio, shoyu or miso based broths.
The secret to Kanada-Ya’s success is its specially cooked 18-hour pork bone tonkotsu broth which is tended to overnight. There are three different types of ramen bowls available – the original, the moyashi (a lighter broth) and chashu-men (ramen finished with a chashu collar). The word ramen is taken from the Chinese word ‘lamien’ which means ‘hand pulled noodles’ and the ramen at Kanada-Ya is literally that – hand pulled noodles prepared on site by their very own noodle whiz. Kanada-ya also serve onigiri (Japanese rice balls wrapped in nori) that can be washed down with a selection of Japanese beers, sake or soft drinks.
Like Kanada-Ya’s menu, the décor is simple and basic. But it does the trick as ramen is Japanese fast food rather than a lingering sit down dining experience. But Kanada-Ya has become so popular that there are often queues which can lead to about a half hour wait.
The chashu-men (£12.50) caught our eye with the promise of an extra chashu pork collar. The tonkotsu broth was delicious – smooth, creamy, fatty and frothy; full of depth and beautifully rounded. The ramen was cooked to order; very firm, firm, regular or soft. We tried both firm and regular and we found the noodles perfectly cooked to order and that they had been pulled to an exact thinness that was lovely and chewy. The chashu is made using the neck so it is far leaner than that of pork belly.
Extra gold label seaweed (nori – £1), chashu cured burford brown egg (hanajuku egg – £2) and the charred black garlic oil (Ma-yu – £1.50) can all be ordered as additional extras. We tried and loved them all. The hanajuku egg was an egg cured with chashu (pork pieces) and was something special. It was both beautifully sweet and savoury and exuded a lovely warm brown glow with a golden gooey centre. The shiny charred black garlic oil was as dark as the night and filled the air with delicious stinky garlic aroma that enhanced the flavours of this brilliant ramen. The nori was excellent with a lovely flavour.
Ramen has the power to polarise people to cause widespread debate on “Where to find the best ramen?” and boy will we hunt it down. It is Japanese soul food at its core and has developed from the humble streets of Japan to achieve a cult-like status.
Since its grand opening, Ippudo has been hot on everyones lips.
“Is it as good as they say?” (See previous post).
Whether you agree or disagree, Ippudo has to be said and done.
I was invited to return to Ippudo to take on a crash course ramen 101 session and to learn more about the Ippudo experience. There was also the offer to try all their ramen. How could I refuse.
Dress with expandable waistline?? Check!
Ippudo has quickly become to what some would consider as legend. Conquering the likes of New York, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Seoul, Shanghai. Ippudo has firmly found its place in Sydney’s Westfield. Since its opening it has quickly drawn in the crowds and cult following with its signature ramen and pork buns.
Ippudo specialises in Tonkostu ramen and offers up 3 variations of this:
- Akamaru shinaji (above): the recipe is 25 years old and includes miso, garlic oil, pork belly, black mushrooms, bean sprouts and shallots – the Tonkotsu broth is slow cooked with pork bones to add extra depth of flavour
- Shiromaru motoaji: Tonkotsu broth served with Hakata ultra thin noodles and includes pork loin, black mushrooms, cabbage & shallots
- Karaka men: Tonkotsu broth with Hakata wavy noodles and includes spicy miso paste with ground pork
You can also specify the firmness of your noodles from “soft, medium or firm”. Which is funny because as a child I loved them soggy but as I have gotten older, I have graduated up to medium and now firm. I love a firm texture! They recommend having it firm but I wonder, how do you like your ramen?
Having tried 2 out of 3 Ramen’s at Ippudo, the Akamaru with flavoured egg ($18) is my absolute favourite. I love the intensity and richness of the broth and every bowl of Ramen always comes down to the broth.
The broth comes positively gleaming with richness and flavour. I am so impatient I quickly go in for the dive and I completely immersed in it. It is sensational.
I also love the fragrant hints of garlic oil and the option to swirl the miso paste into your broth. To do so, lifts the broth to the highest order. My ramen is firm, adding texture and bite contrasting nicely with the fork tender pork belly that melts. The addition of flavoured egg is luxuriant, oozing its way out. Soft, rich and plump.
The ippudo pork buns ($4) are so delicious, every mouthful is just as delicious as the next. The buns are super soft, the pork is spicy, fatty and tender. Setting itself apart from the creaminess of Japanese kewpie mayo and crisp lettuce leaves. Reminds me a lot of the famous Momofuku pork buns.
Now under new management.
This is a really cute place that I highly recommend you go to. It’s tiny, it’s quaint and has that Japanese-esque feel to it. Ka-wa-ii de-su-ne.
The setting is a bit squishy and the service is a bit inattentive but the food more than makes up for it. It is excellent. Don’t get me wrong, the staff are lovely, courteous and friendly. But at times, they just don’t seem to look up. They get really focused on the job at hand. So you may find yourself either staring them down to catch their eye or making the giant leap forward to the counter to speak to them.