Ramen Misoya: Slurp your way to satisfaction

By Michelle Alles

The first time I ever heard about ramen was while I was watching Naruto. Observing the popular manga and anime character enjoy his favourite food made me curious to taste it myself, but I thought I’d have to settle for Maggi noodles, which is nowhere even close to the real thing.When I heard from a close friend that Japan’s soul food was now available in the heart of Colombo, I couldn’t wait to go try it out and I wasn’t disappointed!

Ramen Misoya is the first ramen restaurant in Colombo specializing in miso-based ramen. They are a part of a global chain of ramen restaurants and have over 100 outlets around the world. Ramen is so good that people in Japan patiently stand in line till a bowl of piping hot ramen noodles (which must take no longer than 2 minutes to assemble, but not less than half a day to cook!) is served to them. Ramen is to Japan what kotthu is to Sri Lanka; it’s a go-to comfort food and something you can find every day and everywhere.

The appetizers at Ramen Misoya are delicious and I would recommend the Miso Chicken Karage. Bite-sized pieces of crunchy fried chicken are marinated in a special miso mix and served with a delicious creamy dip. You should also try the Edamame, which is the go-to bite accompanying alcohol in Japan. These young soybeans, which are boiled and sprinkled with salt on the exterior of the pod, can be considered the food equivalent of a ‘tequila shot’ of the restaurant. You’ll know why after you eat it.

When your bowls of ramen arrive, the first thing is to eat while it’s hot; donot wait or you’ll regret it! A wise person once said, “A good bowl of ramen has no beginning or middle or end. When you eat it everything comes together.” I’m too busy slurping to let you know who it is…I’ll tell you later if I remember.

At Ramen Misoya, the miso broth (also known as the dashi), which makes up the base of the noodle soup, is made of miso paste which is fermented soy beans. The noodles, which are specially made for this broth, are perfection, and the pork, chicken or accompanying egg in the dish is filling and satisfying. Ramen is an open-your-mind-and-enjoy-it dish; it might be a good idea not to compare it to other types of cuisine you’ve tried. Ramen is an experience in itself and you will get hooked, but the best part of getting hooked is that, as you taste it again and again, you discover newer aspects of this dish that you missed the first time and slowly, you’ll realise that you have a new addiction.

We managed to persuade the Head Chef, Taiki Warnakulasooriya, to talk to us for a while despite his busy schedule and we were very impressed to learn that even though he’s very young, he possesses a quiet strength and a strong sense of leadership that has made him the successful entrepreneur he is today.

Taiki, whose name means ‘Towering Tree’ in Japanese, has loved making dishes since childhood. Coming from a part-Japanese family, ramen was a dish they’d have every week.  “My dad introduced cooking to me as it was his hobby and it has now become mine. Noodles were a dish that I loved and my grandmother was the one who showed me that you can make noodles with anything. Ramen has many layers to it, making it a very interesting dish, because you can never stop trying out variations. Japanese cuisine is very rigid, but ramen lets you experiment and come up with exciting options,” he revealed.

Even though the portions at Ramen Misoya are beyond generous, you could be well on your way to becoming a member of the Clean Plate Club! But do try to save some room for dessert as they serve the most delicious ice cream and chocolate biscuit pudding. The latter is none other than the much-loved Bellissima biscuit puddings, while the former consists of four delicious, melt-in-your-mouth, ask-for-seconds, scoops of ice cream in Toasted Sesame, Ise Miso, Wasabi, and Matcha. We want takeaway tubs of these please!

No, you don’t have to wear a Naruto-themed outfit for a fully immersive experience, unless you want to. Just walk in there, be greeted by the staff calling out ‘Irasshaimase’ (‘welcome to the store!’), have a seat and enjoy your meal. Different people have different types of comfort food, so why not make ramen yours?

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