Free food and booze. This is a rarity these days. There is no free lunch in this world; except at Irashai Grill's open house today. They were opening their doors to promote their food and of course, the restaurant. I still think they should drop the sushi and go purely Izakaya. Their tapas are some of the best in town (at a price of course). But that's just me, what do I know? Well, I know how to chew. That's essentially what I have been doing non-stop for the last little while. Mind you, after the initial rush of food at 5:00pm sharp, the food came slowly. I don't think the kitchen was able to keep up with the mass of people milling around in the restaurant. Viv and I, joined by Vandelay and Donna Chang, decided that we had sampled our fair share and decided to kick it. I think we left at around 6:00 and the place was so packed, it was hard to move about. It's too bad really, I was really looking forward to meeting up with fellow bloggers Gigi (Ho Yummy) and Kevin (604Foodtography). Alas, I don't really like crowds (especially hungry mobs), so we headed to Kintaro Ramen as a follow-up to our appies at Irashai Grill.
We were expecting the usual lineup at Kintaro; but surprisingly, there was none! We were seated promptly at the counter. Being at the counter made giggly like a little schoolgirl, that's probably why I opted to order the Cheese Ramen. Apparently, on the menu it states that the "ladies just lo-o-ove it!". Er... sure... All the others were a bit boring and ordered the Miso Ramen. However, Vandelay did the "clog-your-arteries" full fat broth, full fat pork version. Yes, at Kintaro, you can choose how you like your broth (rich, medium or light) and fatty or lean pork. Watching the ramen chef make our noodles was pretty cool, especially when he skimmed off fat from the boiling pot of broth to specifically place in Vandelay's bowl. I was able to get a picture of the fatty pork before it was placed in the boiling broth. That was a lot of lard there!
I can honestly say that the broth at Kintaro had plenty of depth. Even Viv's light broth was plenty flavourful; however, it gets really good if you add pork fat. I chose the medium and you can really taste the pork flavour. Donna Chang noted that some people don't like the "porky" flavour here. For me, I think it's perfect, other than being a bit salty. It's slightly sweet, aromatic and rich. There was no shortage of al dente ramen noodles, pork, corn, bean sprouts, menma (bamboo shoots) and onion nestled in the broth. I actually got the lean pork and it had plenty of meat flavour; but Vandelay's fatty pork was outstanding. The slightly melted fat added another depth of pork flavour which only pork fat lovers could appreciate.
For my cheese ramen, the melted cheese (mozzarella and edam?) really worked. Every chopstick full of ramen was laced with stringy cheese. However, the abundance of cheese really made the bowl of noodles heavy and filling. It was difficult to finish at the very end. Throughout the meal, the service was solid. The servers kept checking with us and we never had an empty cup. The restaurant is really small, typical of Japanese noodle houses. You really do not want to stay long, especially right next to the boiling broth.
- Big portions (pork is outstanding)
- Hearty & rustic broth
- Good service
- Small restaurant, not a place to linger
- Long lineups
12:00pm - 11:00pm (Tues - Sun)