I drove around Halifax for a day in search of ramen noodle soup.
Ramen, the fatty salt bomb, often associated with the 40-cent dry noodle packs found in corner stores being eaten raw in school playgrounds, has become a worldwide food fad. This Japanese wheat noodle dish has celebrity chef David Chang, and his Manhattan restaurant Momofuku Noodle Bar which serves mostly ramen and steamed buns, to thank for making it sought after all over North America. The first season of the food-centric PBS show Mind of a Chef dives into Chang’s life, his obsession with Japanese flavours and perfecting ramen.
The styles of ramen are many, and the question of which component is the most important is hardly debatable. The broth, made with either meat or fish, sometimes clear and other times made creamy an foggy by miso and fat, is the glue that holds the dish together. It’s ability to stick to the noodles, and it’s depth of flavour, are essential.
For me, ramen is the pinnacle of satisfying food with meaty, mushroomy, earthy, savoury, salty and fermented flavours coming together with such harmony. Also, with all that sodium, those noodles and protein, it’s an ideal hangover cure.
Although the ramen noodle craze has been running hot for years, it’s only in the last few that Halifax seems to have caught on, with a handful of restaurants around the city serving the huge bowls of salty goodness.
Tako Sushi and Ramen
480 Parkland Drive, Halifax
This quaint strip mall restaurant is the real deal, and the sushi is fantastic, too. There are a about ten different ramen dishes with varying broths, flavours and levels of spice. Their prices are slightly higher than other places serving ramen in the city, but I think the finish product is worth it.
Hakkaido Ramen with spicy pork bone broth, barbecue pork, egg, corn and beansprout. The broth was creamy and intense, the corn added a nice sweetness, and the spice was slow and lingering.
6214 Quinpool, Halifax
This is a good spot for lunch in the city, service is quick and no-frills, and the prices are great. Many options including fried chicken ramen. One order of 10 dollar ramen order might provide you with another meal for take away.
Light Shoyu Chashi Ramen with soy braised pork shoulder, slow cooked soft egg, house marinated bamboo shoots, cabbage and onion. The broth was intensely aromatic, fatty and rich, and the pork was tender and smoky.
Lot Six Bar
1685 Argyle Street, Halifax
The only non-Japanese restaurant on my roundup is serving up a huge portion of ramen, in a more upscale atmosphere, for an added price. They serve one kind of ramen only.
Pork belly ramen with chicken fat and smoked bacon broth, fried reindeer moss, pea shoots and slow cooked soft egg.
1576 Argyle Street, Halifax
This restaurant is hard to miss among the pubs and clubs on Argyle, but their ramen is worth the search and stop.
Pork ramen with seaweed, crab stick, scallion and bamboo shoots. The soup is simple and straight forward, a good introduction to ramen.