One of the best things about living Downtown is the variety of restaurants within walking distance. While we’re fortunate to have easy access to a range of casual and higher end establishments, I’ve always been particularly pleased about the number of noodle soup joints we can reach on foot.
For instance, as the neighbourhood is adjacent to Chinatown, pho favourites like Tau Bay and King Noodle House are not far. Other nearby restaurants like Wheat Garden and Tao Garden offer specific Chinese varieties of soup, and upstart Xo Bar and Bistro caters to those seeking fusion tastes. What has been lacking in the area, however, is ramen.
That’s one of the reasons why I was excited about Nomiya’s expansion into Oliver Square with Nomiya Noodle Bar last fall. Their third location (joining branches on Calgary Trail and in Ellerslie), serves up some of the same items, but has added new dishes to the mix. Most of their small plates and appetizers are shareable, bringing in a welcome communal element.
I had the chance to visit Nomiya during their soft opening back in September, and had enjoyed the experience. At that time, I remarked on how much I liked the open kitchen and the bright room. Last Friday, Mack and I walked over on a chilly evening to reward ourselves with ramen.
Dotted with a number of parties when we arrived, the restaurant was nearly full by the time we finished our meal. Gauging by the packed parking lot, however, it looked like their neighbour 1st RND was the busier of the two establishments, likely owing to the Oilers game airing that night.
I didn’t get the chance to try the tonkotsu ($13.75, additional $1.50 for an egg) on my last visit, so I was looking forward to it on this occasion. Mack selected the shio ramen ($12.75), and I convinced him that we needed to share the sticky chicken ($10.50), minus the peanuts.
Although the service was warm and welcoming throughout, I had higher expectations for the food. The sticky chicken wasn’t quite as good as I remembered it to be; the batter was well seasoned but the sweet ginger sauce needed to have a thinner consistency to more easily cling to the meat.
The tonkotsu broth was not quite as creamy or as full-bodied as I would have preferred. I did like the meat, tender and not too fatty, but the kitchen could have been more generous as only three paper thin slices were included.
Mack didn’t have any major complaints with his broth, but also wasn’t particularly impressed. He still prefers the ramen at Kazoku.
While I’m glad we have expanded our noodle soup roster in the core, I hope Nomiya Noodle Bar was just having an off day.
Nomiya Noodle Bar
11238 104 Avenue
Monday-Thursday 11:30am-2:30pm, 4:30-9:30pm, Friday-Sunday 11:30am-9:30pm