Mea culpa. I have been lazy ... despite recent visits to Kyoto, I had not been doing anything about my (greedy) mission to try all 8 ramen places in Ramen Koji (Ramen Alley) in Kyoto Station.
So a few weeks ago, I made sure I would strike one more from my ramen (bucket) list.
For now, the score stands at 6 down ... 2 to go.
I was hoping that the crowds would have thinned out late in the evening but all the stores in Ramen Koji were still full. Luckily, Sumire tucked away in a side lane had a few seats available. And even luckier, it was a place I had not tried.
Ramen restaurants are characterised by vending machines where you choose and pay for your orders. Because so many tourists are enraptured with ramen, vending machines in places like Ramen Koji now include English translations.
We were not really that hungry so Jay and I decided to split an order of ramen, a bowl of mentaiko gohan and a bottle of beer for me.
Sumire is straight out of Sapporo where miso ramen was invented. Aside from having ramen at Sumire, you can even buy their soup packets to take home.
Instead of the usual Asahi or Kirin that is normally served I was pleasantly surprised when
my beer was brought to the table -- it was a half litre bottle of a brew from the Onuma Craft Brewery of Hokkaido, specially bottled and branded for Sumire. The beer was coloured a nice golden amber and had a full-bodied fruity fragrance and taste.
Heavier and sweeter than the usual sharp and dry Japanese beer (which I love) this was still a welcome change of pace.
We didn't order the recommended miso ramen but opted for the lighter shio ramen.
The curly ramen noodles had a good chewy bite. There were generous portions of shredded
green onions and menma (pickled bamboo shoots) but sadly, just two thin slices of chashu pork. A large slice of fish cake was delicious and made me wish I had ordered an extra portion.
The broth had a thin coating of oil on the surface which may have looked unappetising but did not interfere with the taste at all.
My tastebuds and I were happy with the mentaiko gohan which the waitress said was a specialty. A ball of bright coral-coloured marinated spicy fish roe was surrounded by evenly shredded scrambled egg and topped with thin streaks of nori. I mashed the mentaiko into the rice and savoured every salty spicy spoonful.
Mentaiko gohan and shio ramen with a bottle of Hokkaido craft beer ... a light but delightful dinner at Sumire in Ramen Koji in Kyoto Station.