Brimming with diversity, India displays a buffet of cuisines in this melting pot of a nation, and today that pot is overflowing with hot noodles, sliced pork and green onions in a broth. A broth that people slave over for hours on end to ensure its ultimate perfection.
Traditionally a Japanese noodle dish, the gorgeous, soupy creation of ramen has made its way to this country, bringing with it an exotic range of wild flavours and sauces, meats and greens. One whiff of that steaming broth is enough to invoke serious hunger pangs as it bathes delicious ribbon-like strands of noodles, often topped with dried seaweed, in salty richness. From Shoyu to Tonkotsu and beyond, the various culinary concoctions of ramen all have one thing in common: an irresistibly delectable broth, luscious with deep flavours and nuanced ingredients.
But considering the popularity of the once underground dish is coming to a full boil in India, it’s important to remember that making ramen is a time-honoured art too. What some people try to knock out in a couple of hours, the right people will let simmer for a day, even more, to truly capture the intensity of flavour that’s required to knock our socks off, which is why narrowing down the best spots in the country to eat it wasn’t easy. Nor should it be. Still, as thoughts of that salty, rich, soupy bowl of goodness slushed around in our mind, we totally struck gōrudo (Japanese for gold). So scroll on for 8 of Mumbai’s best places to get a soulful bowlful of ramen, and bookmark this slurpy trail for future noodle-soup fantasies.
I. Fatty Bao
Where: Multiple locations.
When Bengaluru’s famous Fatty Bao came to Mumbai, it caused a bit of a sensation because practically everything on their menu is exciting in terms of both flavour and accessibility. But the piece de resistance has to be their ramen. Their noodles are made in-house and the stock that forms the base of all ramen dishes is simmered for over eight hours, which means it’s bursting with flavour. Try the Exotic Mushroom Ramen: mushroom broth, broccoli, renkan chips, assorted mushrooms, grilled scallion, garlic, crispy onions and smoked sweet corn if you want a vegetarian option, but we’re all about the meat so our go-to is the Chasu Ramen: pork stock with bacon, braised pork belly, bean sprouts, marinated soft boiled eggs, scallions. It’s so good you’ll find yourself unwittingly slurping up every drop.
Cost: call and ask
Where: 6th Floor, Suburbia Mall, Next To Shoppers Stop, Linking Road, Bandra West.
When Kofuku opened in Bandra, it quickly became the go-to place for anyone who wanted Japanese food. It’s food was great and the prices were reasonable—all this in a city where if you want Japanese food you usually have to fork out a lot of dish. While we’re guilty of visiting Kofuku multiple times to demolish a few sushi boats and tempura, we learned the hard way that you have to go beyond to truly sample the delicate flavours and balanced taste that is Japanese food. And the best way to do that is to get their Ten Zaru Soba Ramen: cold buckwheat noodles served in a traditional bamboo mate with tempura prawns. If you never thought you could like cold noodles, think again.
Cost: A bowl of ramen for INR 680.
Where: Shop 4, Ground Floor, Sunbeam Apartments, Perry Cross Road, Off Carter Road.
A recent addition to the authentic Japanese experience offered by the Kablys, Izumi is Nooresha Kably’s newest venture with a focus on delicious sushi and ramen dishes. A quaint little restaurant, with a long queue that just doesn’t seem to get shorter, located in Pali Hill – Izumi is for anyone waiting to gorge on a perfectly-flavoured, or even customised, bowl of hot ramen. Their sushi and sashimi plates are served up right in front of you from the live sushi counter. With interiors inspired by Nooresha’s personal visits to Japan, the entire place isn’t much bigger than a typical Shinjuku bar. But the food more than makes up for the lack of space. For dessert, we’d recommend the Japanese milk pudding, black sesame ice cream, and green tea malabi topped with seasonal fruits. Their ramen comes in both vegetarian and non-vegetarian varieties. Also their menu lets you customise how spicy you want your ramen to be.
Cost: A bowl of sizzling ramen starts at INR 650.
III. One Street
Where: B/2, New Kamal Building, Linking Road
Chef Kelvin Cheung (of Ellipsis fame) has everyone excited with One Street Over, his recent offering on Linking Road. Big on minimalism both in its décor and its menu, Cheung himself is a huge fan of ramen and it’s one of his personal favourites—his understanding of it is probably one of the most refined in the country, given his ramen-geek status. One Street Over is the place to go to in Mumbai for the dish. Look out for the pork miso ramen or, if you’re game, dive into the spicy ramen and we promise, you won’t regret it.
Cost: call and check
Where: B Wing, Ground Floor, Supreme Business Park, Hiranandani Gardens, Powai.
Authentic Japanese flavours have finally found a home in the suburbs of Powai. At Origami, the menu takes your breath away. The kind of variety they offer here is unbelievable. Moreover, they ensure that they make use of seasonal flavours in their recipes which makes the food stand out from most other restaurants in the city. In fact, authenticity finds new meaning here as many of their ingredients are also sourced from Japan and Korea. The atmosphere is very relaxed - perfect for a Friday night unwinding or perhaps even after a stressful Monday. They have three varieties of Ramen - Tonkotsu ramen which is pork with broth, Miso ramen which is chicken or pork swimming in delicious broth and soyabean paste, and Shoyu ramen.
Cost: A bowl of ramen for INR 650.
V. Tokyo Treat
Where: 3-A, Bhailal House 177 Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel (and Kemps Corner).
Nestle amidst the sea small eateries in Lower Parel, Tokyo Treat is one of the humblest places you’d come across in the cities. The food is top notch but the place itself is very small with only a handful of chairs and tables to seat their customers. It’s best to ask for take-out or simply order in. Unlike other restaurants in the city serving Japanese cuisine, Tokyo Treat’s food is reasonably priced and there’s plenty to choose from. They also have “sushi platter boxes” which are a very convenient on-the-go option. They serve four varieties of ramen, each one more delicious than the other.
Cost: A bowl of ramen starts at INR 250.
Where: Shop 1, Sul Building, Sector 20D, Airoli.
A small brick-walled eatery near Airoli station, Pincuk truly comes alive after sunset with hordes of customers trying to grab some mouthwatering ramen. The staff here is super-friendly so expect to be bombarded with warm smiles and friendly eye-contact. Once you’re comfortable, settle in and sift through the variety of Asian food that Pincuk serves or you could just jump to the ramen section on the last page of the menu. They serve four varieties of ramen - Yasai, Niwatori, Ko-ebi, and Pincuk. This restaurant also has very efficient delivery service.
Cost: A bowl of ramen starts at INR 270.
VII. Ramen N Pho
Where: Arenja Corner, Sector -17, Vashi.
One of the few delivery places that send delicious Japanese cuisine directly to your doorstep, Ramen N Pho in Navi Mumbai is primarily a small kitchen. Although it does have a small seating area that can accommodate a handful of people. Expect your order to be packed neatly in spill-proof boxes and arrive in time, and expect it to be steaming. Asian cuisine is their speciality and rightly so as is proved by their Kimchi ramen for its delicious broth which is made of traditional fermented Nappa Cabbage. Additionally, they also serve Korean Ramyan, which is a slightly modified, more Korean version of the traditional Japanese dish.
Cost: A bowl of ramen at INR 340.
VIII. Heng Bok
Where: 6th Floor, Above Shoppers Stop, Suburbia Mall, Linking Road, Bandra West.
If you’ve had enough of Japanese ramen’s subtle flavours, we’d recommend heading to Heng Bok for some Korean ramen instead. While the two are quite similarly, the purists will disagree and probably sit you down for a quick crash course in how Korean ramen isn’t authentic ramen. Instead it’s known for its more powerful flavours and is called ramyeon. It’s also a lot more spicy and ramyeon’s broth is often made from processed seasoning unlike that of Japanese ramen. So while we do suggest picking your battles carefully, ramyeon too is an experience of its own and worth the time and effort.
Cost: A bowl of Korean ramen for INR 520.
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