If you've been reading my blog, you'd know that I'm an avid fan of Japanese cuisine, especially ramen. My favourite in Vancouver has always been Santouka, which is a good and bad thing because I can't help but compare every other bowl I eat to the Toroniku Shio Ramen. Earlier this month I had a wonderful opportunity to travel and taste delicious foods in Asia. Now, we had heard many good reviews about Butao Ramen, a ramen joint in Hong Kong, known for having super limited broth (only serving about 250-300 bowls a day) and closing right after they finish their supply! So, we decided we must try this place. Now I'm not sure if it was just because we were hungry, or tired from the ferry ride, but we deliciously enjoyed this experience.
Like most ramen joints, the place was small, seating about 20-30 at the most. There were a lot of communal tables where you share the seats with people. Butao Ramen started off in Causeway Bay, and then now they have two more locations, in Central and in Tsim Sha Tsui.
The location we went to was in Tsim Sha Tsui, the newest one. Hearsay is that since it's not the original one, the broth is different. Well, we'll never know! :) I seriously can't wait to go back and try it again!
I had mistakenly picked up the Chinese Menu. But what we've got here is (L-R) Butao King, Black King, Red King, Green King and Limited King. Butao King is their signature ramen bowl, and so we ordered this one. The Black King has squid ink that makes the color dark, the Red King is Spicy, the Green King is the Italian inspired ramen bowl with pesto, basil and parmesan cheese. That day they were also serving the Genki King which was the Limited King. Now the rumours about it closing down about finishing the broth, I don't know if it's true or not now! It was late at night, around 10PM when we had gone to the restaurant, and there was a little bit of a line up, but we waited only about 10-15 mins.
From what I've heard, it's very common in Japan to be able to customize your own ramen on quick sheets like these. So we were so excited and checked everything we could. We didn't realize that we had ordered extra pork belly!
Our bowls came really fast. We saw them assembling the ramen and adding the sauces, etc. Here's our yummy Butao King bowl!
First tastes - the broth was super rich and thick. It wasn't that hot, which I didn't feel like complaining about because it was pretty warm outside.
The Limited King bowl didn't look that different from the outside, but the broth was considerably meatier and bolder in taste. One thing you'll definitely notice is the size of that meat. The pork belly was humongous! Next time, I want to try it with the pork shoulder. :)
I guess what I didn't like from Butao Ramen was their noodle choice. My favorite noodles for ramen would definitely be the instant noodle type - kind of like the one you can get from Kingyo's Tan Tan Noodle. This type of noodle turned very starchy and it didn't have a bite to it.
Then, we realized that we had ordered the extra pork belly when this super generous plate of pork belly came! I think because we had too much of the pork belly that we felt it wasn't that good anymore towards the end. It was pretty rich and succulent though :) And of course, I love my ramen with a soft boiled egg, and I thought they did it very well :)
Overall, my experience at Butao Ramen was quite pleasant. It's definitely up there in my list of ramen places to eat at! I can't wait to go back and try the other bowls.
I think Butao Ramen has a place here in Vancouver :) View Larger Map