Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Bankara Ramen, Avenue K: Porcine Ramen Goodness


Slurp up the Many Styles of Ramen!








I am a big ramen fan. Just the thoughts of thick bouncy ramen noodles soaked in a porcine laden broth that is unctuously creamy and deliriously thick with porcine essence, to the point of sticking to one’s lips unearthing a meaty goodness, tender pieces of porcine chashu soaking up the broth, crunchy bits of bamboo shoots or black wood ear fungus, a perfect soft centered marinated egg and lots of oniony notes and texture of spring onions, is simply enough to satiate my craving anytime of the day.


Leading back to my love for ramen, I had recently visited Bankara Ramen located at Avenue K recently together with Tammy and some other foodies one weekend. Now I have heard about the much raved Bankara Ramen since it started early this year. Many have been raving about the scrumptious ramen served at Bankara and it’s about time this ramen lover paid a visit.


Bankara Ramen is Tokyo’s top ramen specialist. Serving up four distinct styles of ramen, Bankara Ramen goes all out in each distinctive style paired with its own luscious broth and noodle. The four styles offered in Bankara are Bankara Signature Ramen from Tokyo, Hakata-style Tonkotsu Ramen, Sapporo-style Miso Ramen and Tsukemen. Though yet to be permanent, Shio Ramen is also a special at Bankara Ramen now. As the owners of Bankara strive to maintain the perfect bowl of ramen, Bankara Ramen only has one outlet now in Malaysia at Avenue K.


We had the honors of dining with one of the owners of Bankara Ramen and everyone is amazed at how passionate the owner is as he shares his knowledge and passion for Bankara Ramen. It is a tough industry and to be the best, it takes a lot of effort, persistence and passion to make it as advised by the owner which we are in total agreement. He also told us that it was really difficult to bring in Bankara Ramen to Malaysia as the Japanese owners are very particular and will only engage owners who share the same passion for the ramen industry as they are. Making ramen is not an easy task and everything has to be precise to maintain the Bankara Ramen quality downright to the ingredients and process. 


Since Bankara Ramen has four distinctive style ramen, it’s even harder as there are more effort to be made with these four kinds of broth and noodles. That’s not only it, there are so much more in the menu at this ramen house. There are additional toppings, side dishes, rice and desserts. The ramen variation alone for each style offers different kinds of accompaniments as well.






Our lunch kicked off with Tsumami Menma (RM8.50), Japanese bamboo shoots tossed in secret fragrant oil and Horenso Goma-Ae (RM5.00), boiled baby spinach tossed with sesame oil and sesame seeds. Both are sufficiently decent bites with various textures and flavors. It is simple side dishes that Japanese cuisine is famous for.


Tori Karaage (RM10.00) and Kakuni Saramori (RM16.00 – two pieces) are up next and here’s why you should order both. The Japanese fried chicken is crispy, juicy, tender and flavorful as what every fried chicken should be. The Bankara special Kakuni Saramori, special braised pork belly, is divine to a tee! Thick cuts of pork belly slab is braised in a decadent sweet and savory dark brown sauce and is accompanied by julienned spring onions. The pork is lusciously melt-in-the-mouth and beautifully fragrant. The lean soft meat coupled with the sinful lard is a match made in heaven. Absolutely yum!


Before our ramen arrive, the additional toppings arrived. There are 12 additional toppings that one can order and jazz up your ramen even more. There is Ni Tamago, Onsen Tamago, Kakuni, Buta Slice, Chashu, Karanegi, Nori,  Wakame, Butter, Corn, Menma and Hizou. Each one turns the ramen into a different taste and experience.

First three additional toppings are Ni Tamago (RM2.50 each egg) which is a soft centered boiled egg marinated in special soy sauce, Karanegi (RM2.00 per portion) Japanese julienned spring onion laced with chili oil and Hizou (RM1.00 per portion) which is a heavenly golden concoction of fragrant garlic and onion.

All the above toppings and side dishes are several portions combined into one plate since we had quite a few of us that day.


The Ni Tamago is perfectly cooked with the luscious soft molten egg yolk center. It is served lightly chilled and the flavor is fairly delicate. Thumbs up for the egg yolk center…


The Karanegi has some kick with a burst of oniony notes and spicy chili oil. This one will certainly pump up the ramen in aroma and heat level. It’s also pretty good eaten on its own if you happen to enjoy spring onion like me. The quality of the spring onion is really good as it has a crisp texture unlike our local spring onion.


Hizou, oh Hizou, you are a bowl of flavours! There must be something really special about you…







First up of the ramen procession was the Bankara Original Ramen (RM21.00). This one has medium thick Tokyo style noodles soaked in a rich pork bone broth with a special Shoyu. This ramen comes with a slice of chashu, bamboo shoots, dried seaweed and Japanese spring onion.


The broth is pale yellow and cloudy. It has quite a thick essence of pork but is not overly salty. It might be a tad oily but it is a robust and flavorful broth. It has the essential essence that sticks to one’s lips and this could only resulted from lots of ingredients and hours of boiling. The noodles have a good bite but I would have preferred a little thicker cut of chashu. The chashu has got good layers and is cooked well and a little thicker cut would better for texture. It’s still a pretty good bowl of ramen.


We also added raw crushed garlic to towards the end to get another level of flavours to this broth. Raw garlic together with pickled ginger are available on every table for diners to create their own unique flavours.







Tonkotsu Chashu (RM28.00) has thin Hakata style noodles in a creamy milky pork broth topped with 4 four pieces of chashu, seaweed, spring onion and jew’s ear mushroom.


I love this broth. It’s gorgeously creamy with a porky goodness. The pork bone together with other ingredients has been slow boiled until it expels the white milky essence the tonkotsu broth is famous for. I could also taste the lovely balance of flavours in the broth. I prefer a thicker noodle for more bite but the thin Hakata style noodle is pretty decent. The jew’s ear mushroom has a nice crunchy texture together with the nutty seaweed and spring onions, making the whole bowl of ramen lighter and easier to enjoy.


Did you know that each ramen style is served in a unique bowl as well? Every little detail is literally thought through and carried out…






The third ramen style is Sapporo-style Miso Ramen. Out of the five variations, we had the Buta Miso Ramen (RM31.00), miso broth ramen piled high with a mount of Bankara signature stir-fried pork belly slices. This bowl is a haven for carnivores!


This round we got medium thick noodles cooked al dente and bathed in an earthy robust miso broth. The broth is nutty, creamy and soothing. What made this stand out was the combination that works so well together. The sweet tender pork belly slices, lots of crunchy bean sprouts, spring onions, chewy ramen noodles, sesame seeds and beautiful miso broth worked its magic to create an utterly scrumptious bowl of ramen.


Besides the lots of inviting textures, it’s the wonderful comforting flavour of sweetness balanced well with savory notes. I really enjoyed the pork belly and the medium thickness of the firm and chewy noodles. Towards the end, we add in butter to get a different taste. The butter really added so much more creaminess and richness. The ramen was already very good as it is, so only add butter if you love super rich flavours.







Tsukemen (RM22.00) has the thickness ramen noodles and it is served cold. The chilled factor allowed the noodles to have a very firm and springy texture. Enjoy the noodles with the hot and spicy broth with a quick and light dip. The broth has a thicker essence than the rest of the other ramen broth because of the way it is served. The noodles should not be dunk into the broth but rather lightly coated.


The chilled noodle offset with the hot broth to conclude a warm ramen to be eaten almost at room temperature. This allowed the flavours to really develop to its maximum strength. I am also glad that the broth is not overly salty as the others that I have had before. It has just the right balance and the flavours are very enjoyable albeit the fact that it was a tad oily again. However with that said, it is also the oil that produces the delicious factor of flavours of Bankara Ramen.






We also got to try the Shio Ramen (RM25.00) which featured a light broth infused with rock salt, alchohol and spring onions. A few of us enjoyed this as the broth is really easy to savor and the savory salty notes really shine. It comes with two thin slices of chashu, seaweed, bamaboo shoots and spring onions.








Now who would have ever thought to order rice at a ramen restaurant? Certainly not me! Well this bowl of Negi Buta Meshi (RM13.00) changed my mind.


The Negi Buta Meshi is so delicious and aromatic. Japanese short grain rice is steamed till soft and fluffy and topped with chopped chashu drenched in the special sweet soy sauce (same as the Kakuni Saramori) before being topped with lots of Japanese spring onions and seaweed. I am telling you, order this rice and you’ll get what I mean. It is utterly ravishing in flavours and aroma!

One can even opt for their signature Kakuni and soft boiled egg version of Buta Kakuni Don (RM15.00) that is drizzled with mayo and sprinkled with sesame seed, spring onion and seaweed.







Now we thought we were done but one should not leave Bankara Ramen without trying their signature dessert of Annin Tofu (RM7.00). The chilled Japanese almond jelly has a glorious soft wobbly texture and it nicely sweetened with a lovely nutty almond essence. Everyone and I mean everyone raved about this dessert!






Bankara Ramen really showed us that it is truly a ramen specialist as it houses the many styles of ramen. All the ramens are truly unique and delicious so it really depends on your preference of taste. It may be a tad oilier but the noodles and broth flavours are very good. I also enjoyed all their side dishes, especially the Kakuni Saramori and of course the Negi Buta Meshi. Make sure to save a little room for their Annin Toufu!



BANKARA RAMEN
Lot 2-7, Level 2, Avenue K,
156, Jalan Ampang,
50450 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2181 8618
Fax: 03-2164 5630
GPS coordinates: 3.1603332, 101.7219719


Opening hours: Mon – Sun, 11am – 10pm

*More photos available at my Facebook: Chasing Food Dreams





3 comments:

  1. Oh mah gawd! I'll go gaga over those garlics! Would love to visit this place!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nice! Pork? Oooo...count me in!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think I'll skip the add in butter part as the broth is rich enough for me :P

    ReplyDelete

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