16518 100 Avenue
For a very long time I only knew ramen as one thing: Ichiban Instant Noodles. For many years my brother and I would eat Ichiban for lunch at home at least once week. Sometimes we’d even “hack” the Ichiban by adding in frozen peas, corn or maybe some bottled peanut sauce if we were feeling really crazy. And for the most part, we loved it.
It wasn’t until many years later that I realized Ichiban is to Ramen what Chef Boyardee is to Pasta. Silly, silly me.
Edmonton is a little late hopping onto the Ramen Bandwagon so we are just now starting to see noodle shops popping up around the city. I’ve attended a couple of the incredibly popular ramen pop ups hosted by the awesome people at Prairie Noodle Shop (who will be establishing a permanent residence here in Edmonton sometime next year) and really enjoyed the delicious bowls of ramen they were serving. I also had the chance to visit Ippudo, a noodle shop originating in Japan, when I was in NYC last year, and the ramen there was incredibly tasty. So needless to say, those bowls of Ichiban were starting to seem a little less appealing.
Recently I heard that Kazoku Ramen has joined the Edmonton ramen scene and I was excited to see what they had to offer. So, my friend Allie and I decided to head there for dinner and see how their ramen stacked up.
We arrived at about 7:30 and the restaurant was packed. Obviously there are many Edmontonians looking for a tasty bowl of ramen. We sat down, surveyed the menu and put in our orders.
I decided on a bowl of the Tonkotsu (pork based) ramen, while Allie picked the Miso ramen. At the same time we put in our drink order, just a glass of water for me and some green tea for Allie. I was told that they had run out of clean glasses and I would have to wait for one to be washed. Umm, ok, first time I’ve ever heard that at a restaurant.
So, Allie got her tea and about 20 minutes later I got my water. Then, we waited… and waited and waited. It ended up taking about 45-50 minutes for us to get our ramen. So by that point we were so hungry we probably would have wolfed down anything that they put in front of us.
And the ramen? Good, not great.
The noodles were nice, they had a really good texture, a nice bite to them and not at all mushy. We also both thought the broth was quite delicious. Our disappointment was with the toppings. The Char Siu was pretty unappealing, it was quite fatty and looked more like slices of lunch meat. Also, the soft-boiled egg looked like it fell a little more on the hard-boiled side. I think Kazoku is on the right track, but the ramen could use a little work.
What bothered me more however, was the service. I recognize that Kazuko is a new restaurant, but not having enough water glasses for every seat in your restaurant? That’s pretty amateur. Also, there were obviously kinks to work out with service, but if you make a table wait 45 minutes for their food, there should a least be an apology for the wait or a thank you for your patience. For me as a customer, in most instances if you just acknowledge the wait, it really goes a long way.
I’m hopeful that Kazoku can continue to work on their ramen and also add in a few more smiles, pleases, and thank yous especially while they continue to work out the kinks in their service…. Oh and maybe some more clean glasses.