Taking residence at the Victoria Square end of Grote Street is Shozo Ikeda’s venture Himeji Ramen & Izakaya. The renowned sushi chef that brought us Sushi Bar Genki, which we love, decided to expand beyond just sushi. Himeji offers a full menu of traditional Japanese style food. Of course sushi is still on the cards using locally sourced fresh seafood where possible. Given Chef Ikeda’s track record we were really looking forward to being wowed. The decor is indeed an authentic elegant Japanese setting.
We started off with Agedashi Nasu, a change from my usual order of tofu. Cooked the same way as Agedashi Tofu, it was fried eggplant instead in a fish broth topped with those flavour packed bonito flakes. It was too salty for my liking but soft fried eggplant is always tasty. Maybe I’ll stick to fried eggplant without the sauce.
There is no way Mr Foodie will forget to order Karaage and their marinated crispy fried chicken was indeed hot and crispy. The chicken was juicy and we could taste the marinade. Delicious choice here.
We also decided to try some bao and picked deep fried crumbed chicken with lettuce, edamame dip, tomato, red onion, Kewpie mayo and original sauce. Not sure what original sauce was. The bun was soft enough and the chicken crispy but overall it was ok.
Now it’s time for the main event. Ramen. The reason we came here – in search of good ramen. While there are many ramen soup bases we have always found Tonkotsu ranks a firm number one in our books. When browsing through the menu Himeji Spicy Tonkotsu stated exactly everything I wanted in a dish. First off, it was fragrant, it smelled good. The tonkotsu broth was thick and had good depth of flavour. Mine comes with house made spicy chilli oil and chimarjan (I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess this is sesame paste or sauce). Toppings include pork mince, half boiled egg, spinach, deep fried leek and shredded chilli. The noodles were good noodles that had that springy texture I was looking for.
Mr Foodie went for the Himeji Original Tonkotsu Ramen. It was the same Tonkotsu soup base as mine which has been cooked for more than 8 hours to get that creamy broth. His however was saltier. The noodles used for this ramen is the very thin straight noodles and I found it was mushier. I liked my springy noodles better. The pork slices (chashu) was really tender but lacked flavour. Other toppings include half boiled egg, bean sprouts, wood ear mushroom, spring onions and garlic oil.
For me I would definitely come back for the Karaage and Himeji Spicy Tonkotsu Red Ramen. I have heard the Tonkotsu Black ramen comes highly recommended so I might have to try that for myself next time. While the restaurant setting leans towards fine dining and omakase style the ramen is very reasonably priced. For the city lunch patrons there are some pretty good lunch time specials with rice bowls, bento sets and ramen sets.
Himeji Ramen & Izakaya
22-24 Grote Street
08 8410 0102