The latest ramen player in town is Tokyo-based Bankara that has made its way into the newly renovated Avenue K mall. I briefly remembered seeing Bankara Ramen in Bangkok and how the long queue put us off. Hence, we were excited to try out some authentic Japanese ramen after work last week.
Service was prompt and friendly. I liked how the wait staff enthusiastically greeted us when we entered the shop and bid us farewell as we were leaving. Bankara Ramen had a good mix of Japanese expats and locals that night. Apart from the usual condiments of shoyu, vinegar and chili oil, fresh garlic and garlic press were spotted at the table.
Feeling famished, we ordered some appetisers to be shared amongst the three of us. Chilled and flavoured with sesame and sesame oil, the boiled spinach (horenso goma-ae, RM5) was refreshing. The ni tamago (medium boiled egg marinated in soy sauce, RM2.50) were cooked perfectly and the yolks were runny in the middle and slightly firm around the edges. We did not enjoy the ebi age harumaki (house special prawn filled spring roll, RM8) as the spring roll sheet was too greasy. Hizou (special flavoured garlic and onion, RM1) is a must order here, as it tasted great eaten on its own. When we mixed it to our ramen broth, it added flavour and depth to the broth.
There are four distinctive varieties of ramen available in Bankara – original Bankara signature style Ramen, Hakata-style tonkotsu ramen, Saporo-style miso ramen and Tsukemen. We thought it was a good idea as we did not have to limit ourselves to only Hakata or Hokkaido styles of ramen.
We were all excited, holding our breath in anticipation as our Bankara original ramen (RM 21) reached our table. Topped with chashu, bamboo shoots, dried seafood and Japanese onion, this was a “lighter” version of ramen. The broth was made with pork bones infused with refined shoyu. The broth had a mildly sweet taste, with a comforting pork bone flavour. The thin, fresh noodles were neither too soft nor too chewy.
We were experimenting with the garlic press and found out that fresh garlic changes the character of the broth entirely. You must try it for yourselves.
The next ramen was the But a miso (RM 31). Seasoned with miso (fermented bean paste), the broth had a nice, robust, smoky flavour that was really unique. We enjoyed having the nice, springy noodles with some crunchy bean sprouts and Bankara’s signature stir-fried pork belly slices.
Feeling curious, we ordered the kakuni tsukemen which is a cold ramen dish dipped with hot spicy soup. The signature kakuni braised pork belly had an amazing infusion of umami. The tsukemen uses a thicker version of ramen noodles that was run through cold water, and quickly soaked in ice water to achieve a springy texture.
Just like soba, we grabbed a small bunch of noodles with our chopsticks, dipped it in the soup and then down the hatch! Becareful not to dip for too long as the soup itself has a very dense and strong flavour.
We cleansed our palate with some annin tofu (almond pudding-tofu) after such a rich and intense meal.
Bankara Ramen is definitely the place to devour some seriously good ramen. With four different types of ramen coming from different regions in Japan, there is sure something for everyone.
Bankara Ramen Malaysia
Address: Lot 2-7, Level 2, Avenue K, 156, Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2181 8618 | Opening hours: Mon – Sun, 11am – 10pm
GPS coordinates: 3.1603332, 101.7219719
This article is also published in Hungry Go Where Malaysia.