Do you know how many Japanese there are in Melbourne?
Do you know how many Japanese there are in Bangkok?
Does this mean that, in probablity terms, there are ten times the likelihood of finding better ramen in Bangkok? Probably. I don’t know. What I do know though, and there I go again with post spoilers, that Yamagoya Ramen on Thong Lor does a pretty damn good tonkotsu ramen and definitely a place to check out while you’re in town.
Look at the pictures, people!
So back in the days of gallavanting Bangkok earlier in June this year, I said to a few of my Japanophile foodie friends/relatives (luckily, I have quite a few) ‘please take me to a really good ramen shop.’
The amazing coincidence was that three of them rang and wanted to take us to Yamagoya Ramen on the same day. Loving ramen as much as I do, I would have totally been willing to eat ramen for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But unfortunately that was the day after our visit to Nahm. Though went to Yamagoya for lunch, we did. But only just one meal (insert sighs of disappointment here).
Yamagoya Ramen Thong Lor is one of the six branches of a ramen chain operation in Bangkok. It is situated not very far from Japan Village – a concentration of all things Japanese in Bangkok. We got there just before noon on purpose because the place gets quite busy and, according to my fussy uncle, the first broth of day is best.
(Yamagoya ramen – 170B)
The big picture menu (in Thai, Japanese and sporadic English translation) presented is clearly about ramen. Yamagoya Ramen serves Kyushu-style ramen with rich, milky white, tonkotsu broth made from boiling down a few pigs’ worth of bones until the end result is silky, rich, gelatinous broth. Heart-stoppingly good, really.
And you can have it with various styles and toppings of your choice. Uncle Soup (really, that’s what we call him) and I went for the signature dish ‘Yamagoya ramen’ – which was a large bowl of ramen topped with thinly sliced but meltingly tender chashu (Japanese roast pork), menma (pickled bamboo shoots) and, most importantly, a perfectly soft-boiled seasoned egg.
The broth was so creamy and rich. As a good tonkotsu broth should be. That’s all you need for a good ramen really but what turned it into a super fantastic ramen was the seasoned egg. This was by far the best seasoned egg I ever had. The white was set but the yolk was so smooth and runny. Best of all though, the seasoning was so well done that you could taste it in the yolk. Yep. That good.
(Kakuni ramen – with braised pork belly – 200B)
Josh opted for the kakuni ramen – with the same broth but topped with kakuni, cubes of braised pork belly in dark, rich sauce. The pork was briefly charred until the surface was richly caramelised and added a lovely smoky dimension to the ramen. In fact, I have to say overall I prefer his ramen to mine. He also opted for a seasoned egg (which didn’t come as a standard on his ramen) whose yolk was slightly more set than mine which was perfectly doneness he preferred. Bonus.
(Gyoza – pan-fried Japanese pork dumplings – 100B)
Because we were in Thailand, naturally, we had to order more food. Let’s face it – large bowls of super rich broth were not enough to satisfy our
gluttony appetite. Uncle Soup ordered a side of gyoza which was disappointingly average. The dumpling skin was on the dry side and the filling didn’t quite make up for it.
(Korokke – Japanese croquette – 100B?)
You’d think that’s all we could manage between the three of us. No. We also ordered a plate of korroke (Japanese croquette). These were really quite good. It was nicely crunchy on the outside and not at all oily. Unlike many Japanese restaurants who made their croquettes with plain potato or white sauce, this particular korroke also had a pleasantly gluey texture of the Japanese yam (yamaimo)* We struggled to finish them all (and thank god there were only two) but we loved them.
All in all, we had a great ramen experience that we thought we would never have outside of Japan at Yamagoya Ramen. And while it wasn’t the best ramen we ever had, it was definitely way up there on our good ramen list. Melbourne, keep up, will ya?
I can’t wait for November to come round for our second Bangkok trip of the year – more ramen adventure for us then. I will gladly report back to you all. Stay tuned.
Yamagoya Ramen (Thong Lor)
Address: Soi Thong Lor 13, Sukhumvit Rd.,
Khlong Tan Nuea, Watthana, Bangkok 10110 Thailand [ Google Map ]
Phone number: 02-185-3796
* I have not seen the Japanese mountain yam available in Melbourne but I recently discovered a particular type of baking potatoes called Golden Delight that when mashed gives a good yamaimo-like texture.