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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Menya Kouji Ramen Review - 39 Boulevard, Bangkok

Menya Kouji - Ramen Shop at 39 Boulevard, Sukhumvit 39, Bangkok

Overall Score  7/10
Taste   3/5
Ambiance  3/5
Service  5/5
Value   3.5/5

Menya Kouji - Ramen Shop on BumRes.com (For more pictures and menu)

Menya Kouji just opened up in February this year, took over the space of the old ramen shop named Komasa.  The location is at the 39 Boulevard complex, there are a few cool restaurants there as well as being the condominium.  Chef Kouji at the Menya Kouji was a student of the Ramen God in Japan, named Kazuo Yamagishi, who created the Tsukemen.  Chef Kouji has 130 ramen shops throughout the world now (see the history about Menya Kouji here)

The Menya Kouji serves authentic Japanese ramen with only so few selection in the menu.  Many Japanese ramen restaurants in Thailand aren't this way and having too many types of ramen in the menu.  Famous ramen shops in Japan with the long queue usually only have one or two types of ramen.  The thought behind the Japanese mindset is to be best at what they do and become the expertise in only one area first.  

At Menya Kouji, there are only two types of ramen; Ramen and Tsukemen.  This review was actually during the Grand Opening when the Menya Kouji was serving Ramen and Tsukemen at a special price, only 99 Baht with free Asahi draft beer.  So I had to wait in the queue for about half an hour to get in.  Japanese people and Thai people equally were looking forward to trying the Chef Kouji's ramen.  Other than ramen, there was only gyoza and Chashu don and that was it.

Let's begin with the Ramen (Standard ramen of Menya Kouji - enjoy matching of hearty broth, mild taste of pork fat and texture of noodles - 200 Baht)  You only have the option to add the Chashu or an Onsen egg.  Everything else is the same for every bowl.  Don't expect to leave this and add that like Thai restaurants; just have it the way it comes.  My friend ordered this one.  I liked its color of the broth.  It has the unique golden color.  Trying to figure out what the broth was made with; Pork and fish and ??? I have no idea.  Its broth looked very rich but the taste was lighter than I expected.  The ramen noodles was standard.  Other toppings were basic.  It only came with one piece of Chashu; not enough.  My friend thought it was just so so.  it looked really good to me though.  

For myself, I had the Tsukemen (Standard tsukemen from Menya Kouji - enjoy pleasant chewy noodle with rich and hearty dipping sauce which made from pork bones, chicken bones, vegetables and seafood which need 3 days to prepare - 220 Baht.  The broth was of course more rich than the ramen one; it was supposed to be the dipping sauce since the noodles came separately.  I really liked this one.  It had a perfectly strong flavor, not too strong; made with chicken and pork bones.  I felt that it was done better than the Fujiyama Go Go near there.

Other dishes we had in the menu.

- Gyoza (80 Baht) The price is good for the fully stuffed gyoza.  Nicely fried to brown and the filling was delicious.

- Chashu Plate 3 Kinds (120 Baht) came with 3 different types of Chashu.  These were good by themselves.  Not as thick but still really tasty.  I liked the variety as well.

- Chashu Don (100 Baht) Rice with the Chashu pork commonly found at nearly all Ramen shops.  The key to the goodness of this menu is the Chashu.  I usually like it my chashu more fatty.  For some reason, I liked the Chashu in the rice more than what was in the ramen. 

With the high expectation from the Menya Kouji, this meal felt rather ordinary.  At first I thought that this ramen shop would become the best in town.  Don't get me wrong though, the Menya Kouji was still definitely one of the top picks for me in this town.  Like I said, their Tsukemen is highly recommended, so just give it a try.  You won't be disappointed. 

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