Oct 9, 2010

Akasaka Ramen 赤坂拉麵


Address:    台北市忠孝東路四段94號2樓 (New Address Starting 11/2/2010)
                   94 Chung Hsiao E. Road Section 4, 2nd Floor Taipei

Phone #:    02-2752-0786
Website: http://www.akasakaramen.com/
Price Range:   $$
Accepts Credit Cards: yes
Attire: casual
Good for kids: yes
Take out: idk
Waiter Service: yes
Outdoor seating:  no
Alcohol: no


Food Quality: 3.5 out of 5
Decor:  3 out of 5
Service: 3 out of 5
Overall: 3.2 out of 5
Recommendation: Akasuka Ramen


Akasaka was voted the best ramen in Taiwan on the HungryInTaipei 2009 Reader's Choice poll, so I thought I'd give the Chung Hsiao East Road store a try. I sincerely hope this is not the best ramen Taipei has to offer. I'm not sure if the ramen quality is better in Japan, but I was not impressed with the ramen presented to me at this store. This is due to my own preference of ramen soup bases that are slightly saltier, and ramen soup noodles that are slighty harder. And, the noodles make or break a bowl of ramen for me. When I have cravings for ramen in LA, I get it satisfied at Shin Sen Gumi or at Orochan. You can choose your own soup base, ingredients, and noodle hardness. I am not a big fan of what I consider overcooked noodles, like the ones you get at Daikokuya. So if you like Daikokuya, you will probably enjoy a big bowl of Akasaka Ramen.

There were a lot of different bowls of Ramen to choose from, all ranging from 120 NT to 260 NT. Naturally, I asked the waiter what she would recommend. She suggested either the house specialty or the TV-Champion Ramen priced at 260 NT. I thought the TV-Champion one would be the best representation of Akasaka Ramen, so I ordered a bowl.

When it came to me I was bewildered by the wad of kimchi on top and the chunks of braised pork floating in the miso-based broth. To my surprise, the chunks of braised pork were absolutely delicious. I am accustomed to having Cha-Siu in my ramen, but braised pork is a really nice touch. The braised pork is so soft and succulent that it melts down as you chew, and layers your tongue with its fat and this rich flavor which lingers on throughout the duration of your ramen consumption. On the other hand, the kimchi was very distracting, and I think it clashed with the miso-based soup because of its fermented quality. It was also just a tiny wad of kimchi, so it's kind of ridiculous for it to be there. The rest of the ingredients were familiar faces: egg, bean sprouts, noodles, cabbage, and seaweed. I think the noodles and the bean sprouts were overcooked. It didn't have the Q factor that I would have enjoyed in ramen. They need to be a little al dente. My focus when eating ramen tends to be the noodles and the soup. If the noodles are not the type I like and cooked the way I like, I wouldn't enjoy the bowl as much. The noodles here are too soft for my taste. The bean sprouts aren't as crunchy as I would have liked them to be as well, which adds to my suspicion that they overcook their food, since bean sprouts take a while to become soggy. Anyway, there wasn't much to mention about the egg, cabbage, or seaweed. Finally, the broth was good. The miso flavor was there, but wasn't too strong that it overpowered the pork bone stock, so you still get that subtle refreshment in each gulp. That is why I gave this bowl a 3.5, compared to my baseline of Shin Sen Gumi ramen as my 5 out of 5.

The decor was not particularly engaging, and I don't think this is a place to come for the atmosphere anyway. I came all the way to get a bowl of ramen, not to smell the flowers. There are tables for 2 tables for 4, and a friendly bar-style table for all the lonely ramen-lovers out there. That is why I gave it an average rating of 3 out of 5. The service was just like most Taiwanese Restaurant service. Servers in Taiwan are generally very helpful, kind, responsive, and underpaid. So a 3 out of 5 best describes this level of service.

Akasaka ramen is definitely better than the 120 NT Ramen I had in an alleyway restaurant in Gong Guan. And a couple of ramen places I had in Hsin-Chu. With the sad state of the ramen market, it is not surprising that this McDonalds of Ramen could make it up to the best in Taipei. It is not terrible, but it just was not what I was looking for. Maybe i'll order some other menu item to give them a chance to redeem themselves. Until I find a place where I can customize my noodles, ingredients, and stock of my Ramen, I will be coming here to curb my future Ramen cravings.


joanh said...

i definitely agree with you.. Akasaka's ramen is among my least favorite of the ones I've tried in Taipei, but I didn't know if it was because of that particular location or not. I like Ajisen ramen actually, and a few other places. Haven't yet found a to-die for bowl...

Johnny said...

I'll be on the lookout for that bowl. Defintely count on a post if I stumble upon it.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...