Nanami Ramen (Japanese) – IndonesiaHALAL STATUS Fully Halal
This colourful and bright eating space has an open kitchen where diners can either watch their meals being prepared by professional, uniformed chefs or can opt to sit outdoors.
The menu is simple, serving a handful of authentic Japanese dishes. All descriptions of the food are written in Bahasa Indonesian; and with staff unable to speak English, be prepared to use Google translate when ordering.
Ramen is traditionally a pork broth made by boiling meat bones with spices and alcohol for a long period of time, before being served with noodles and meat.
It is said to have healing properties and is used often in Chinese and Japanese medicine and cooking.
In this case, however, owner and Chef, Akiyuki Iitaka, serves Halal ramen with a slow cooked 24-hour chicken broth-base, paying special attention to using high quality Halal chicken and freshly sourced ingredients.
This broth is the backbone of Nanami Ramen and is used in most of the dishes cooked.
The broth gives each dish a light meaty flavor; and while differing from the rich and dense beef essence found in a Vietnamese Phó, still carries a robust meaty-cum-chicken flavour.
While this dish is translated from Japanese as “soupless oil-based noodles”, there really isn’t any compromise on its quality, because in place of the aforementioned chicken broth is a deliciously flavoursome oil comprising of luxurious soy sauce and silky egg yolk.
These lukewarm soba noodles (often made with buckwheat, though in this case made from hand-stretched wheat noodles) were cooked ‘to the tooth’, or ‘al dente’. It was served with roasted chicken, Asian spinach, a tuile of crispy chicken skin, scallions, seaweed, minced chicken meat and a barely poached egg to garnish the bowl.
Novices to this Tokyo favourite will be seriously mistaken to think that they can eat these noodles in a regular fashion. Fortunately, Nanami Ramen give you instructions on how to eat this dish à la Tokyo’s locals.
The sequence is to douse your bowl with one ‘round’ of Halal vinegar along with a sprinkle of mild chilli powder, before breaking the egg yolk and stirring all the components of the dish together. Not one to break tradition, we did exactly that.
The egg yolk acted as a sauce for the noodles, which allowed for the flavours of the garlic and ginger to penetrate, thereby creating a rich and slippery, blended sauce.
Meanwhile, the vinegar cut through the flavoursome oil and the richness of the egg yolk sauce, whilst adding tanginess to each mouthful. The taste was superbly umami, and extremely satisfying.
The toppings changed the texture, taste, and even the pace at which we ate. Each component was cooked extremely well and complimented one another. We did notice, that despite the roast chicken being a tad dry, the juiciness of the noodles managed to solve said shortcoming. In fact, our bowls of Abura Soba got more sour and spicier as we ate, making it wonderfully moreish and easy to finish.RECOMMENDED
Since this dish was presented as a chef’s special, we had high hopes from the start. We’re glad to say, it did not disappoint.
The opaquely orange liquid base was made with the unctuous slow cooked chicken broth, mildly fermented miso paste and chilli oil; and yelled flavour to every single taste bud from the moment it entered the mouth.
The first sensation was chilli (different from the fiery and fruity taste of fresh chilli; here the taste of chilli oil was more subtle and earthy). Once this had passed, the oral runway was clear for the luxurious and complex flavours of fermented miso and the opulent chicken broth. The two mixed together creating a creamy texture – not the heavy or dairy kind, but the kind that’s created when something thick is mixed with a liquid – ahh gastronomy!
The thin house-stretched noodles were springy and bouncy, cooked with the right amount of bite, and served in an appropriate portion size in comparison to the toppings. As for the toppings, then we had a soft boiled egg, Asian spinach and the signature ground and roasted chicken.
When an entire mouthful, with all the components, is taken, the layers and complexity of this dish really shine through – and eating an entire mouthful is absolutely necessary to get the best results. The meatiness of the chicken essence and miso is rich and sumptuous, whilst the ground chicken adds texture to each strand of noodle, with the roast chicken adding depth. Our favourite dish by far!
There’s no doubt that the high heat in which the minced chicken meat was cooked accounted for its sweet taste, with all of the liquids therein – ranging from the sesame oil, chicken juices and soy sauce – being caramelised. This, partnered with the rich chicken essence, will give diners a fabulous bite when had with the soft cooked egg yolk.
But, as with most ground meats (depending on the fat-to-lean ratio content of the meat), there may be an element of greasiness to the mince, which we experienced here. Sadly, not only did the egg yolk only make things greasier, but as the dish cooled, the dish became significantly worse. A side sauce, with a vinegar or citrus base, may have helped to cut through said fat, as well as keeping the meat moist throughout the meal.
This dish was topped with a partially cooked tea stained egg. Light brown on the outside, white on the in, and filled with a gloriously magnificent orange coloured egg yolk, this added a hint of much needed savouriness to the dish, whilst also adding a creaminess to what was otherwise a rather samey texture. In truth, the only element that would save this dish from being overlooked is the addition of the egg.
The beef tasted sweet from the caramelised onions, and slow cooked with garlic, which wasn’t a bad thing at all. We suspect that there was also some sugar added to the marinade; though not enough to make this taste overly so.
This Yakiniku Don was topped with very thinly sliced beef, onions and garlic. In a restaurant that specialises in chicken and chicken by-products (broth, eggs, crispy skin, etc.), we were dubious in trying their only beef dish, worried, given their expertise in chicken, that they might not get it quite right.
Upon first taste, the beef was surprisingly lean and fresh tasting; depicting the quality of meat and also the quality of cooking techniques used to execute this. And while we were again expecting greasy and gritty meat, shame on us for prejudging.
We can also say that the sweetness here wasn’t a problem due to the tender, meaty and juicy flavours of the beef. As such, this was a very simple dish that was executed well.RECOMMENDED
This plate was twice the size of a standard plate, easily serving two. The chicken had been seasoned, flattened, then dredged in seasoned flour to give each bite a flavourful crunch. With the outside being crispy, the inside remained succulent.
We want to note here that the fried chicken was neither greasy nor sticky. In terms of size, we were able to pick up the pieces with our hands and eat these finger-sized portions quite comfortably.
But doing that without lashing on the Katsu curry sauce would be sacrilege! The sauce was stand out! Given that it wasn’t sweet like common Katsu curries can be, this tasted umami and savoury, thus pairing very well with the fried chicken.
By blending curry powder, vegetables and Nanami’s signature chicken essence into a liquid, and adding their signature ground mince into the sauce, this blew every other Katsu curry out of the running! We would come back to Indonesia just for this dish.
- NO/ NO
- CHILD SEATING
The menu is simple enough, serving as it does a handful of authentic Japanese dishes. All descriptions of the food are written in Bahasa Indonesian; and with staff unable to speak English (though helpful and efficient otherwise), be prepared to use Google translate when ordering.
Otherwise, there's enough going on here, with some outstanding dishes, to demand a revisit.
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Nanami Ramen (Cikini)
Hotel Ibis Budget, Jl. Cikini Raya No.75, Menteng, Jakarta Pusat/ (Kolam Renang Cikini).
T: +62 (0)21 3190 8188 | W: www.nanamiramen.com
Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 11:00-22:00