Trying out new ramen-ya in town.
This time it is the shop that originates from Hiroshima and touts “The Strongest Tonkotsu Soup”, BARI-UMA Ramen. So far i’m mostly familiar with Hokkaido, Tokyo, and Hakata style ramen that this is probably the first time i tried one from Hiroshima. Since i’m not that conversant with the differences in soup base, noodle type, toppings each region/prefecture offers, i’ll depend on my taste buds to do the judging.
Those who know a little Japanese could have correctly guessed the meaning to the shop’s name without checking the explanation provided in the menu book. Yup, it’s “very tasty” although the kanji used for uma[i] resembles that of ‘horse’ — some kind of wordplay i suppose? Well, let’s see if the taste does live up to its name. A quick read about its story tells me that they developed and serve “thickest, richest pork-soy sauce” believing super rich and thick soup shall make a bowl of ramen tasty. As ramen’s noodles are important as the broth, each BARI-UMA shop makes its noodles in-house to ensure freshness.
Pork flavored shoyu soup may be its strong suit, but it does serve the chicken counterpart and color-code the utensils used for the two — red for pork, black for chicken — so those eschewing the former can dine here without much worry. But i had less-than-satisfying experience with the latter that pork ramen is all i go after. So basically the shop offers two options for the soup base, and each bowl comes with either two thick grilled chashu or two stewed chicken drumlets. The rest are add-ons. I skipped the flavored egg (ajitama) since i read that it’s hard-boiled instead of half-boiled =(
[Bari-uma ramen 58K | Kara-uma ramen 68K]
The broth is true to its claim — it’s indeed the thickest i’ve ever found that it looks like curry rather than tonkotsu. It is also creamy though ain’t the richest fullest-flavored one i’ve ever eaten. To its credit, however, it is moderately spiced and salted that it doesn’t leave your tummy feeling overwhelmed even if you’re down it to the last drop. In fact, it is right up my alley that i for the first time felt they give too little soup. How can i ask for kaedama (a second serving of noodles, 12K)* when there’s barely enough soup to finish what’s on the bowl? Is it possible to ask for extra broth to begin with? LOL.
*) i’m quite a big eater, in case you didn’t know already xp
If you like your food to be extra piquant, then opt for Kara-uma which comes in Bari-uma’s broth with an added kick from the chilli (duh). For reference, my spicy tolerance is quite high and Kara-uma is comfortably hot although my eating buddies are already huffing and puffing from the spice. Hee. If you can eat spicy foods, it won’t be that spicy… i think? 😈
The noodles are straight and medium-sized, thick enough to pick up the glistening soup with it. You can choose the hardness level — firm, original, and soft. The original is a bit too mushy to my liking i shall order it firm on my next visit. Then the chashu, which as described is cut thickly and tender to the bite. The slices still contain lean fat strip in it unlike the full-meat type i got at Santouka the other day. I don’t think there’s much seasoning or flavor in the chashu itself, but the generous slab and delish texture more than make up for that. (Therefore i was dismayed to find only one slice of chashu on the bowls on my second visit. Are we supposed to get one or two?)
If you are big on these grilled chashu, Chashu-uma (ramen, 88K) and Aburi-chashu (side dish, 59K) will give you four slices of that. Seriously, you’ll want more.
[Top: Ishiyaki chashu chaofan 45K | Chashu-mayo rice 39K
Bottom: Chicken gyoza 35K for 5pcs, 68K for 10pcs | a plate of chashu from the set menu]
Next on the list is the clay-pot rice and i ordered, again, its chashu fried rice. Other food bloggers mentioned getting corns and vegetables, but all i saw was meat after meat, half shredded half chunky. It is NOT a quibble though — just look at how generous the meat portion is! The waiter offered to mix the dish up for me, probably so that the rice on the bottom isn’t burnt, which i turned down so i could take a snap of the ‘before’ —
unfortunately no ‘after’ since everything becomes one color view it here if curious. The taste is on the saltier side (that the ramen’s broth ends up blander when sipped afterwards); it’s pretty good. I could see myself ordering it again on days when i don’t feel like eating ramen.
Then, chashu-mayo rice. Like in any other eatery, the chashu-don comes in a kid-sized bowl and this is the heapest portion i’ve ever got. As seen on the picture, the pork cubes are on the brink of overflowing although i’m pretty disappointed with the dry texture and rather bland taste. The same goes for the chashu ‘side dish’ if you order the set menu; it has this strong buttery flavor that doesn’t go well with the meat i could barely finish it. The grilled chashu is 100 times better! If you can’t eat pork, there’s chicken version of the don — and salmon or shrimp toppings for the fried rice.
Lastly, gyoza. I hardly skip this one out so here is BARI-UMA’s version: interconnected by a thin crispy layer made of equal parts flour and potato starch. I knew it would come out looking like that, but seeing it in person makes it the least appetizing dish. Alas, the appearance isn’t saved by the taste. The dumplings are rather flat, the skin isn’t crispy, and the fillings aren’t juicy either. I could barely get any juice from it. FYI, chicken gyoza is the only available option but it does come in two portions, 5pcs or 10pcs, and three toppings/variants besides the original: spicy (chilli), teriyaki, and age-mayo (deep-fried).
Despite the disappointing gyoza, i’m satisfied with the other menus — the ramen in particular. Price points are pretty standard and reasonable too. I left with a happy tummy and will definitely come back for more. BARI-UMA Ramen has been added to my favorite list =)
p.s. i went to the one located at Lippo Mall Puri aka St. Moritz, not the Citywalk Sudirman branch. Currently it’s having special opening promo, offering a set of bari-uma/tori-uma ramen, side dish of choice, and a glass of ocha for 79K++. Grab it while it lasts!
~first pic taken from the website~