I love burgers, I really do. There is just something about meat in a bun with various things like cheese, bacon and mushrooms to make it even tastier. However, in recent times, burgers have become gourmet and have even the very definition of a burger has been challenged. We've seen the Korean-style "burgers" made with rice "buns" at Kobob (which I didn't mind), but the availability of a ramen burger at Ramen Koika piqued my interest. I met up with Steve and Vandelay to check the place out.
Before we got to the burger, we naturally tried some actual ramen first. For myself, I had the Black Garlic Ramen. I found the broth to be fairly light-tasting and thin. However, the addition of black garlic oil and toasted garlic amped the flavour quotient. It was aromatic and subtly impactful. I went for the "hard" noodles and they were toothsome as advertised, even while sitting in the broth until the end. The thick slices of fatty chashu were a disappointment though as the texture did not match the visuals. The meat was actually on the chewier side and slightly dry. For my side, I had the Gyu Don which looked lifeless and pale. Now this did had matching visuals and taste. The rice was not sauced nearly enough while the meat was not particularly tasty nor appealing. Large, barely cooked slivers of onions did not help the cause either.
Vandelay ended up with the King's Ramen (carrot, cabbage, mushroom, green onion, bean sprouts, shredded pork, seaweed, mamboo shoot and soft boiled egg) which featured a curiously cloudy chicken broth. It was lightly sweet and savoury. Being a chicken broth, we weren't expecting any flavour explosions, but with that in mind, it was still quite light. Being cloudy, the broth wasn't particularly clean-tasting either. The noodles were toothsome though while the egg was a touch overdone. It had a soft centre, but was trending towards hard-boiled. Steve decided on the Smoky Kara Spicy Miso Ramen with hard noodles as well. It was somewhat thick with the unmistakable taste of miso. It wasn't that salty though where there was a certain nuttiness and smokiness to the broth. There was a definite lingering spice that wasn't overwhelming.
We also shared an order of the Delicious Chashu Pork Belly and it was pretty good. Deep fried and completely fatty, this was a sinful treat. The meat was curiously more tender in this application. The deep-fry helped caramelize the fat and meat which resulted in some pretty rich flavours. Now onto the Chashu Burger, let's just say ramen noodles should remain in broth. The "bun" was super dense and mealy. I couldn't actually get it down because the texture was so unappealing. Similar to my ramen, the chashu was meaty and fatty. I thought the teriyaki sauce and mayo was a natural combination which was fine. But that ramen bun really did suck. As for the other items, they were decent, but not extraordinary. Definitely serviceable if in the area though.
- Diverse menu
- Decent service
- Serviceable ramen
- Ramen bun is no good
- Limited tables