As all hopeless ramentics already know, those little noodle packets also known as instant ramen you can get at a supermarket are just a pathetic attempt of fooling poor young students that what they just cooked in their microwave in under 5 minutes is somewhat nutritious. The tightly-packed noodles and little packets of seasoning and oil on the side have as much to do with ramen as vegan cheese made out of cashews has with mozzarella di buffala campana DOP.
Ramen is a distinctly Chinese soup that arrived in Japan all the way back in the 19th century. What once was a nutritious broth packed with flavor and traditional Chinese-style wheat noodles became a (not-only) Japanese national obsession. Careers had been built, museums have been opened and video games have been created, all on this humble miso-flavored bowl of goodness.
When life gives you lemons instead of plane tickets to Japan, the only thing that’s left for you to do this winter is to go to the supermarket warm up at one of the few places in Zagreb that serve this rich and meaty comfort food. Or go crazy and visit them all! A ramen crawl anyone? No, ok, it’s just me then.
50 A BURGER & CHAMPAGNE BAR
With the new Asian-infused menu 50 just got as close to the ultimate comfort food place as one can. Burgers, Philly cheesesteaks, extra-cheesy fries, tomato soup, deep fried apple pie lookalikes AND ramen? Chicken or pork – whichever one you choose, it’s ramen, man – you cannot go wrong. I’ve already wrote about their comfort food extravaganza and one of the most enticing burger experiences I’ve had for a while. Now, it’s ramen time!
GYOZA SAKE BAR
What better way to spend your Saturday than sweating over a big-ass bowl of pork or veggie soup, slurping all that deliciousness and then sitting back on that bar stool (careful, though!) with a bottle of ice cold Sapporo beer. In order to turn that fantasy into reality you will have to make a reservation no later than Friday 5PM (they serve ramen on Saturday only!). In case you don’t, their delicious curries, gyoza and other delights will just have to do.
The first sushi bar that opened in Zagreb back in 2008 is a place where you can not only gorge on made-to-order sushi but not one, not two, but three different kinds of ramen. Here you can choose between shio ramen (salt-based), shoyu ramen (soy sauce-based) and miso ramen (soybean-based). Or just admit to yourself that you’re a hopeless ramentic and order all three.
Takenoko is one of the restaurants featured in the Michelin guide last year and whether you want to admit it or not, that does count for something. This is not one of those places where you go when you’re strolling around the city centre and suddenly start craving sushi. Well, at least it’s not for most of us. But, if you’re looking for an upscale restaurant experience and love Japanese and fusion cuisine, Takenoko is the place. Between the sea urchin sushi and robata-grilled meats you probably won’t go for the shoyu ramen, but it’s always good to have options, no?
TIME RESTAURANT & BAR
Considerably fancy and quite expensive (for Zagreb) Time is still well worth a visit if you’ve got a hunger for some fine asian fusion. Since their chicken ramen was one of the best things you could possibly think of at last year’s Advent in Zagreb, I say you skip the tatakis and the carpaccios and opt for a bowl of the culinary touchstone that goes way beyond food.
Been to any of these places yet? Which one is your favorite?