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Ramen requires hours to cook and years of experience to master; this is what ramen bars are for! Check out these five amazing ramen spots in Brussels to get your fix on a cold day. If the soup is very good, don’t forget to make slurping noises to show your appreciation to the chef (don’t worry; it’s a culturally acceptable practice!).
Named after dried bamboo shoots used as toppings for ramen, Menma prides itself on making noodle soup. The noodles here are homemade from a special machine imported directly from Japan. Menma concentrates on three basic broths: shio (salt), shoyu (soy sauce) or miso, each accompanied by fresh noodles, half an egg, slices of char siu (roast pork), bamboo shoots and spring onions. If you are very hungry, ask for a supplementary portion of noodles or toppings. Don’t miss their specialty, the divine Yuzu Shio Ramen, a hybrid between lightly salty soup and the acidic flavor of yuzu, an aromatic citrus fruit originated from East Asia. This place regularly introduces special ramen such as tsukemen (dipping noodle) or spicy miso ramen for a limited time. There’s always something new waiting for you at Menma!
Menma, Avenue des Saisons 123, 1050, Brussels, Belgium, +32 2 648 73 70
This Japanese restaurant serves ramen as a part of their long menu. Here you can sit on high stools, at a grand communal table or at the bar under cozy yellow lights. Order the unusual ramen you are unlikely to find elsewhere: Kara-age ramen, crispy fried chicken in a chicken broth with noodles, topped with bean sprouts and spring onions. “Japanese classics served in a minimalist décor are the secret of success at the Kokuban,” as Michelin Guide puts it. No wonder this is also singer Stromae’s favourite place to find inspiration and compose new hits.
Kokuban, Vilain XIIII 53, 1000, Brussels, Belgium, +32 2 611 06 22
Samourai Ramen is quite small and simply decorated just like any typical ramen spot. You can dine at the counter or at one of a few tables upstairs. Here you can make your own ramen by picking a broth: miso, shoyu or tonkotsu; add toppings from chicken cutlets (katsu), roasted pork to fried prawn. The set menu comes with a big bowl of ramen of your choice and five pieces of gyoza at 17.5 euros. Strategically located at the end of Rue Neuve, this spot is great for a quick soup between shopping trips.
Samourai Ramen, Rue Fossé-aux-loups 28, 1000, Brussels, Belgium, +32 2 217 56 39
Umamido is all about Japanese noodle soups with a Belgian twist. Besides noodles imported from Japan, most of the ingredients here are local, such as their pork which comes from Malmédy in the province of Liège. There’s a ramen for everyone: creamy tokontsu ramen made from pork bones for classics lovers; vegetarian ramen made of miso and soy sauce broth for vegans; lobster-bacon ramen mixing luxurious and rustic flavors will suit European palates. Also the Ramen burger, invented in New York, this Japanese-American fusion of ramen and hamburger now has its own Brussels version: juicy beef steak, kimchi and sunny-side egg sandwiched between crunchy brownish buns made of noodles.
Umamido, Chaussée de Vleurgat 1, 1050, Brussels, Belgium, +32 2 640 40 57
The authenticity and quality of this restaurant are indisputable as it has served the Japanese community in Belgium for over 20 years. It is not exclusively a ramen bar, but their value lunch is worth checking out. You can get an appetizer, a miso soup, ramen and gyoza (Japanese dumplings). The broth is delicious and the portion of noodles and toppings is generous. The green tea is free and you can fill up as much as you want. Come early to have a seat before groups of Japanese salarymen (white-collar workers) arrive for their lunch break.
Yamayu Santatsu, Chaussée d’Ixelles 141, 1050, Brussels, Belgium, +32 2 513 53 12