Ramen on the Brain: Meguro Ramen

The topic of Chinatown revitalization has been bandied about a lot in the past year, especially with flashy projects like the Yorkton Development residential towers and the Wild Rose Circle Development. But in the short term, existing businesses that bring people into the area will have a greater impact – no area can rely on large-scale developments alone.

That’s why it was great to see that a new ramen joint joined the Chinatown fray in recent months. Instead of opting for a newer, suburban location, Meguro Ramen chose to situate itself in the heart of Chinatown on 97 Street, in the space formerly occupied by Padmanadi.

In other large North American cities, the ramen trend has exploded, with eaters ravenous for hand-pulled noodles and umami broth. Ramen doesn’t yet have the same foothold in Edmonton, but we may get there soon if more restaurants with this focus continue to open up. During November’s cold snap, I met Annie at Meguro Ramen for lunch on a Saturday.

Save for the instant version, my experience with ramen has been limited. But in many ways, because of my love of pho, I am already partial to oversized bowls of noodle soup. At the same time, I knew my bias would affect my reception of dishes outside the realm of beef broth and rice noodles.

The interior has been completely transformed – gone is the buffet service, the dated paint, the wall of thumb tacked photos. In its place is a dramatic red and black room with paper and glass lantern accents, a space that I think would look even better after dark.

Meguro Ramen

Interior

Although Meguro does serve dishes outside of the ramen family (about ten appetizers, and three different rice bowls), we zoned in on their namesake entree. We had the choice of ten varieties, made up of different kinds of broth and toppings, including the most unusual combination of ramen and cheese of all things. I didn’t stray far from pho, ordering the beef noodle ($10.95), while Annie opted for the curry ramen ($9.95).

Meguro Ramen

Menu (I really appreciated the pictures)

Given we were among just three other parties, it wasn’t a surprise that our food arrived quickly. But we appreciated the expedient service, especially on that cold afternoon. The steaming bowls were garnished beautifully, while the atypical soup spoon helped round out its presentation.

Meguro Ramen

Beef noodle ramen

I enjoyed the beef very much, tender, with just the right amount of fat. The noodles were quite good as well, thicker than I had anticipated, but satisfyingly chewy. The broth was a bit of a disappointment for me; bland and lacking flavour, I had to reach for quite a bit of the spice shaker on the table to liven it up. Annie had similar thoughts about her dish – thumbs up to the pork (which she found to be better than Nomiya), but was expecting a broth to have much more kick.

Meguro Ramen

Curry ramen

When we went to the counter to pay, we asked the staff whether or not their noodles were made in-house. He responded, “It’s a secret.” Maybe it was meant tongue-in-cheek, but we interpreted that to mean, “No.”

Though our lunch didn’t quite show me what all the ramen hype was about, Meguro Ramen is close enough to my workplace that I think I will be back again soon – there are at least nine other ramen dishes that I’ll have to work my way through after all!

Meguro Ramen
10626 97 Street
(780) 497-8280
Sunday-Thursday 11am-9pm, Friday-Saturday 11am-10pm

7 thoughts on “Ramen on the Brain: Meguro Ramen

  1. In a way, the heart of a bowl of ramen is between the noodles and the broth. If you can’t do both of them correctly, you will feel there is something “missing”.

    As for myself, I have been twice to Meguro, in hopes the first visit was a fluke (it just happened it was a couple of days after they opened); but, in both instances I was disappointed. The noodles were OK but I felt the broth was abysmal in terms of depth – it was it was a really diluted broth rather than a punch-in-your face type one. So, in a way, not too different from what you experienced.

    As for myself, if I have to choose, I would take a plane to Vancouver but, since that will easily break the bank, in the meantime, I will stick with Nomiya.

  2. I am at Nomiya as we speak. I don’t think I would return to Meguro as long as Nomiya is open. Nomiya has better service despite being busier and the chef is definitely Japanese. Perhaps Meguro needs more time…and then I might return 🙂

  3. Kim – I still have to try Nomiya.

    Annie – maybe you can take me next time :).

    Subhadeep – I’ve been to Noodle Maker, and have had the ramen. I have to say I prefer the green onion cakes to the noodle bowls there!

  4. Meguro has gone out of business. Lack of clientele. It is being transformed into a pho noodle house.

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