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Thread: Review: Muku Ramen

  1. #1
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    Default Review: Muku Ramen

    Muku Japanese Ramen

    - Location: 326 14th Street NW
    - Food rating 4.5/5
    - Ambience 4/5
    - Service 5/5

    Disclaimer: As ramen can be a very personally opinionated subject, the ratings and views are of my own personal preferences. Yours may, and probably do, differ.


    Initial impressions:

    I've driven by this place a few times, always wondered what it would be like. I was driving by going South today to drop off my friend, and she suggested we stop by to have some ramen, because she was curious as well.

    Parking can be a BIT of a bitch as there's a small lot for Muku and a large lot for Globefish, although you can park at Globefish to go to Muku if the Muku lot is full. Walking in, we were immediately assaulted with a wave of friendly hello's in both English and Japanese, and everyone was grinning ear to ear. Within seconds, a host had arrived and we were quickly seated at a nicely made, if not a tad small, table. The overall restaurant is actually pretty small, with about 10 small 2 person tables and 1 big family booth. There is also a bar-seating area overlooking the cooking area for 8 or so more people.

    The reastaurant is warm and inviting, with lots of little Japanese touches here and there. Lots of art, lots of little sculptures, everything adding to the atmosphere instead of overwhelming it. It is well lit, but not all all overpowering. I particularly liked that the cooking area, as in most Japanese restaurants, is wide open and visible, meaning that you can watch your dish being made from start to finish if you wish. Of great note is that everything, even the little corners of the kitchen where you don't usually look, was clean clean clean. A good sign.


    Food:

    We were presented with menu's within 30 seconds of being in the door. While sparse, there are a lot of combinations and options you can do with your ramen, or you can get one of the pre-made combinations. My friend had a $9.95 Spicy Miso Ramen, and I ordered the Tonkotsu Chashu Ramen for $11.95. We both had water to drink, so no drink prices are available for this review.

    Despite the restaurant being hopping busy for a Saturday night (all but 4 seats in the house were filled with bodies), our ramen was in front of us within 5 minutes.

    The tonkotsu chashu (pork marrow broth ramen with sliced pork belly) smelled glorious, not a heavy, wet scent but a light, pleasant scent. The spice in the miso ramen was apparent even across the table, which made my eyebrow rise as it did overpower the scent of the miso a little. The broth for my tonkotsu was appropriately brown-white, and had the lovely little flecks of pork fat floating in it along with a nice speckling of oil.

    The ramen noodles themselves were perfectly done (to my preference of just past katamen, or "cooked but still firm"), and the chashu (pork belly slices) were thin but well done and not at all dry or stringy. The broth was decently rich and somewhat complex, nothing as powerful and "knock you on your ass complex" as what you get in Vancouver, but still very flavorful and pleasing to the palate. I could definitely discern the multitude of flavors that comprise a tonkotsu broth, and I think it's the best tonkotsu (so far) I've tasted in Calgary.

    My friend thoroughly enjoyed her spicy miso ramen, but pointed out that the spices were very slightly overpowering. I tried a bit of the miso broth and found it a little weak (again, personal preference, I like my miso to be of a stronger mix), but still tasty, and balanced really well with the spice despite the misleading scent of more spice than miso.


    Service:

    Service was incredible. Full stop.

    Okay, to describe, from the moment we walked in the door and were assailed with the hellos, to the moment we walked out the doors to a wave of "Arigato!" and "See you again!," it felt like we each had our own personal servant. While we were attended to by one host, she was a bloody firefly She was zipping around the restaurant, taking orders, bringing out bowls of ramen, checking up on people, and she was never more than a look away. I slurped a bit of very hot broth with my noodles at the beginning, and winced just slightly as it burned the tip of my tongue (my own stupid fault for not letting the noodles cool a bit before slurping). Instantly, and I mean from across the restaurant with her back to me, she was at the table asking if everything was alright.

    As soon as we had both finished our bowls, she was there again, smiling and asking how the meal had been as she picked up our bowls and brought us the bill. I have never, and I do mean this, had service that present and quick. And from what I saw, the other host girl was exactly the same. Like freakin' worker bees, they made sure EVERYTHING was spot perfect with everyone's meal, and they did it in a way that they let you know there were there if you needed them, but never made you feel as if they were hovering over you.

    Overall:

    We both cleaned out our bowls to the last drop of broth, and both had full bellies and happy smiles. The ramen was spot on, and I only knock it down a half point because of the slightly less-than-personally-preferred rich tonkotsu broth. It was still, let me say again, the best tonkotsu I've had in Calgary so far.

    My companion thoroughly enjoyed her spicy miso, despite the slight nitpick about the spice (her personal taste).

    Simply excellent service, and worth the 15% tip on the bill of $22 for a final total of $25.30 all told.


    Final verdict:

    Definitely a recommended visit, and definitely will be returning there again in the future. Two thumbs up d(^^ d)

    (Again, I must reinforce that ramen tastes vary wildly across the spectrum and that this is an extremely subjective review based on my own personal tastes)
    Last edited by Vagabond142; 09-18-2010 at 07:42 PM.
    Geek

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    I tried this a long time ago, felt like I was paying $20 for instant noodles with sliced BBQ pork. I know I'm no connoisseur, but a lot of people out there will feel the same I think.
    Last edited by phreezee; 10-19-2010 at 11:56 AM.

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    Originally posted by phreezee
    I tried this a long time ago, felt like I was paying $20 for instant noodles with sliced BBQ pork. I know I'm no connoisseur, but a lot of people out there will feel the same I think.
    Ditto. Was extremely underwhelmed and unimpressed, then I knew why I was the only Asian in the restaurant.

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    My fobby friends LOVE the place but like the people above me, it's like eating instant noodles with real meat on top.

    It seems like I could make it at home.


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    Originally posted by gmoney82


    Ditto. Was extremely underwhelmed and unimpressed, then I knew why I was the only Asian in the restaurant.




    If there ain't tons of heads with black hair, no good
    Originally posted by GTS Jeff
    You know those bored stay at home moms who's entire lives revolve around driving their kids to soccer, various cleaning accessories, and worrying about neighbourhood rapists? The kind of people that watch the View and go "uh huh..." Those unfulfilled people who try to fill the void in their empty lives by writing whiny letters to the editor complaining about shit that no one really cares about?

    Well imagine if instead of writing that letter to the editor, she just posts on a car forum for car enthusiasts. That's Kritafo.

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    Van City spoiled true Ramen for me, this place doesn't come close to comparing, my 2 cents

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    ^ yeah cause van city actually has those japanese immigrants straight from Japan, the ones who know that cooking the soup bones over a few nights makes the real deal , just like good pho always starts with that overnight beef bone broth. but i'd like to try this place out (any new ramen place for that matter) cause i <3 noodle soup anything.


    Originally posted by dj_rice
    If there ain't tons of heads with black hair, no good
    yeah like wok box where the heads cooking were sandy blonde, saw that and walked out

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    The only ramen that I like in town is the chili goemon or miso ramen at shikiji. Even those two don't compare to the one I had at Kintaro.

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    The most important part of ramen is the broth and their broth is way too salty. It doesn't have that authentic taste to it. Almost seems like their using flavourings instead of making the painstaking effort of making true broth with pork bones and konbu. I had to drink gallons of water after having ramen from here.

    The 2nd issue with the Chashu. The best Chashu has a fall of the bone type texture and very smooth. Here, not even close.

    BTW I went almost a year ago, so if things have changed, my comments may or may not be valid.

    The one thing I hated about shikiji was that they used starch to thicken their soups... But I think I should head back there to try them again.
    You have a couple of photos that are great... you must be very good at photoshop!

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