japanese

Umamido (Brussels, Belgium): Big Ramen Bowls in a Small Space

THE STORY

As usual, my day centered around visiting this ramen spot, which opened at noon. This meant I had time to have coffee and a bite beforehand.

I decided to visit a Portuguese bakery (because why not?) within a healthy walk’s distance from Umamido. This way I could have my coffee and small breakfast bite a couple hours before destroying a bowl of ramen.

While walking to Umamido, however, I decided to eat a pastel de nata I had purchased to go.

Rookie mistake.

I didn’t need the pastel de nata. I just wanted it.

Umamido Ramen Restaurant Flagey Brussels Belgium Asian Japanese Noodle Soup

When you go out for ramen, it’s good practice to show up hungry. Of course, this can be dangerous if you’re also walking the thin line between appropriately hungry and hangry.

When I finally arrived at Umamido, I worried that I wasn’t hungry enough. But it seemed too late for another walk around the block.

Umamido Flagey Brussels Belgium sign graphic design

Umamido has five or six 2-top tables inside, and maybe four seats at the bar. The space is so intimate that I couldn’t get into my seat without brushing against the table next to me. There’s just the chef and the waiter - any more than that and it’d be a crowd.

THE REVIEW

I had the Ramen of the Chef, which is described as “The ultimate ramen, spicy, fatty, salty, totally Umamido, the bowl that feeds the soul.” This description is not wrong.

This was a bowl of ramen unlike any other I’d ever had.

Ramen of the Chef Umamido Restaurant Flagey Brussels Belgium Asian Japanese Noodle Soup

What was most intimidating was the bacon, if that’s what you would call it. Just one look at these two slabs of crispy, meaty pork and I knew I was doomed. There was no way I could finish this bowl.

But I happily accepted the challenge.

And instead of corn, there were green peas. While not as sugary sweet as corn kernels, they still added a refreshing flavor and texture. The raw red onion and rocket were also a wonderful surprise.

With the added pinch of kimchi, this ramen was spicier than I expected. But that’s what beer is for.

I recommend this spot for ramen lovers both new and veteran. It’s not a traditional or typical ramen joint, but you’re also not a traditional or typical traveler if you’re seeking ramen in Brussels.


Umamido Flagey (there are seven locations, one food truck, and no reservations), Chaussee de Vleurgat 1, 1050 Elsene, Ixelles, Belgium

Tensai Ramen (Rotterdam, Netherlands): Handmade Noodles in the Center of Rotterdam

THE STORY

I remember in our early explorations of Rotterdam, the Ramen Marauder and I were on the tram heading back home. We passed the sign for Tensai Ramen, and we quickly saved it on our Google maps. Later, it popped up on my Instagram newsfeed from Liyen Food Moments, and recently Lazy Pig Passion mentioned they are making a video about Tensai.

It was all promising information. People were raving about the newly opened ramen shop and only had good things to say.

Tensai Ramen Restaurant Black Tonkotsu Noodles Rotterdam Netherlands Holland

What made me less eager to try it were the pictures of the noodles. Why weren't they yellow? Why didn't they look curly and springy? I had read that they were made in the shop, but I just wasn't convinced by the photos that these noodles were worthy of my attention.

But since when did food photography become the authority on what to eat? I kept reading that these noodles had great texture, and that this is quickly becoming a favorite spot in Rotterdam, so we checked it out.

Tensai Ramen Restaurant Interior Rotterdam Netherlands Holland

At this bustling intersection by the Beurs train station, Tensai Ramen has large windows that keep the noise to a minimum. The inside is modestly decorated, with (as seemingly always) a handful of tables.

We went around 4 p.m., when the restaurant was at a lull. By the time we left, however, the tables were filling up quickly, and some were eager to take our table.

Tensai Ramen Restaurant Black Tonkotsu Noodle Soup Rotterdam Netherlands Holland

THE REVIEW

Look at this bowl of black tonkotsu ramen noodles. When I look at this picture, I see that perfect little soft boiled egg nestled in a bed of broth, the corn gently sprinkled across the bottom of its yolk. A couple strips of bamboo lay beside it, sharing a piece of nori like a pillow, resting on a bed of noodles. It's peaceful, like the calm before the storm of my spoon and chopsticks coming to destroy.

This is a bowl of ramen that you will want to savor. Enjoy a spoonful of just broth, then maybe a pinch of noodles, followed by a spoonful of broth, noodles, and a few kernels of corn. Take a moment to appreciate the texture of the bamboo and the black mushrooms, contrasted with the crunch of the corn and the spring of the noodles.

I always try to save the egg towards the end of my ramen experience because I want to savor the richness the yolk adds to the broth. Sure, I could beat it up with my chopsticks and mix it into the soup to be enjoyed throughout the meal, but more often than not, I just can't. The few bites I was able to take of that egg, accompanied by a spoonful of broth and noodles, were luxurious.

I highly recommend Tensai ramen for the seasoned ramen eater. A newbie will also enjoy it, but beware: it may ruin other ramen shops for you.


Tensai Ramen, Schiedamsedijk 1, Rotterdam, Netherlands 3011 EB

Codung Sushi (Nuremberg, Germany): From Rumor to Reality

THE STORY

Côdung Sushi was recommended to us by DTV: Daniel Television (a.k.a. Taylor Made to Travel) at the beginning of 2018. While Nuremberg isn't far, our first opportunity to try it was when we went to see Avengers: Infinity War at the end of April.

Nuremberg has one of two theatres in the area that shows Original Versions (OV) of American films; however, it only shows OVs of select blockbusters, and the screenings are limited. For example, there will be at least one OV screening per night of the opening weekend, but after that, there may be only one OV screening per week.

We expected Avengers: Infinity War to be a big deal, but there was only one OV screening scheduled for its opening weekend: Thursday, April 24 at 11:45 p.m. in Nuremberg. On one hand, it was daunting that we wouldn't get home until around 4:30 a.m. On the other hand, it meant we could finally try Côdung.

Codung Sushi Japanese Asian Food Nuremberg Germany

THE REVIEW

Located just inside the perimeter of the Mitte, our table was on the second floor of the modestly-sized establishment. We each ordered our own appetizers and sushi platters: I had the spring rolls and a "Menü 7," while the Ramen Marauder had the seaweed salad and the...well, I'll get to that. The Menü 7 consisted of a California roll (4 pieces), a salmon roll (4 pieces), and then 2 pieces each of salmon, tuna, kingfish, and bream nigiri. It also came with a salad of mostly shredded daikon and a couple leaves of lettuce. It was all light, refreshing, and filling (in the way that sushi can be filling). And for those who care, the crab in the California roll was imitation.

The Ramen Marauder ordered the fried spicy tuna roll, but he also received the fried tuna crunch roll. We were all quite curious as to what it was: it had a green-tinted outside layer, and none of us had ordered anything like it as far as we knew. It turned out the color came from green rice flakes, not wasabi, and it was filled with cooked tuna, Japanese mayo, avocado, cucumber, and roasted onions. I didn't know what it was until later, but to me, it tasted like chicken salad in a sushi roll.

Codung Sushi Nuremberg Germany Japanese Asian Food Restaurant

If you have friends who are hesitant about going to a sushi restaurant, this may be a good place for compromise. In addition to their raw and cooked sushi options, they also have a selection of noodle and rice dishes. A friend of ours had the Bun Bo Nam Bo (vermicelli noodle salad topped with seasoned beef, coriander/cilantro, and roasted onions), which he seemed to enjoy thoroughly.


Côdung Sushi, Färberstr. 43, 90402 Nürnberg, Deutschland, +49 911 48 97 34 69