There seems to be a flux of ramen shops popping up in every corner of Hong Kong. Is Ramen Champion a gimmick or is the ramen a worthy trip?
Ramen Champion is a cluster of ramen shops in one convenient location. Once you step inside you are given what resembles a hotel key card, it is used to track what you ordered. There are a total of six ramen shops, all offering from different styles of ramen. The atmosphere is fun and enticing, I feel like a kid in a candy store, and I have so many items to choose from and I don’t know where to start.
Part 1 of this exciting review, I try Bario Ramen, Ikkousha Ramen and Bishamon Zero Ramen.
After visiting all the ramen shops, I decide to try Bario Ramen first. They seem to have the most energy and excitement when trying to get customers to taste their ramen, also the ramen looks scrumptious. Bario Ramen uses Jiro-style noodles, which is a thick cut bread flour noodle that resembles Udon noodles; a Tonkotsu based soup, which is a thick and heavy pork broth. I order the Bario Bowl to start this ramen quest. I now patiently await for the Bario beeper device to tell me that my food is ready.
After 10 minutes my beeper goes off and I run to get my piping hot noodle bowl. My first thought is how massive this ramen is, piled high with Char-Siu (thick sliced pork slabs) and bean sprouts. I quickly mix up this massive concoction and start to dive right in. I initially try the soup first, and I must say it is very heavy, thick and pork-heavenly delicious. I can tell right away this is going to be one heavy ramen bowl. I take my first slurp and the combination of the chewy thick texture of the noodle with the crispy bean sprouts and fatty soup go somewhat well together. I am not used to the style of noodles that Bario creates. It is very thick and at times is a task to chew with all the other items in the ramen. I would have preferred they use a thinner style ramen noodle but nonetheless it is hardy and enjoyable. A good start to my ramen quest.
The next stop is Ikkousha Ramen. Ikkousha is Hakata style ramen which uses fresh pork bone broth (Tonkotsu) with thin straight style noodles. I order the Ikkousha Special Ramen, which houses Tonkotsu soup, thin tender slices of pork, soft boiled egg and topped off with scallion. The aromatic smell gets my senses all excited and again I dive right in. The ramen at Ikkousha is not as massive as Bario, it looks more calm, soothing and inviting. I take a swig of the soup and I feel as though this broth is better than Bario’s. It has more flavor while less fatty, and it’s more manageable to slurp down. The noodles however is a different story. Ikkousha uses thin “15-second cooked” noodles that tastes like Sōmen noodles. I think it would be more enjoyable if they used the traditional curly ramen noodles. But to compare this ramen to Bario is difficult, as they seem to be in different weight classes: Bario being the big bulky heavyweight and Ikkousha a leaner, agile middle weight.
The last stop for the day is Hokkaido Bishamon Ramen shop. Bishamon uses a savory chicken/pork broth style soup with traditional curly noodles. I order the Shoyu (soy sauce) Ramen. I am excited at the fact that Bishamon uses traditional style noodles. I take spoonful of soup and notice right away it is very light in taste (as you can see I like to taste the soup first before devouring my ramen). I then proceed to the curly noodles. I take my first bite and am quickly filled with disappointment. There is hardly any taste and the noodles are not chewy and overall just bland. This place does not compare to the others I have eaten. So far this is at the bottom of my list.
There is still more to conquer here at Ramen Champion. So stay tuned!
To Be Continued…
Ramen Champion Shop No.4-12 & 26-31,3/B, Prudential Centre, 216-228 Nathan Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong
TEL: +852 2377 9944 – 11:30am to 10:30pm daily