Am I just fussy, or did I get a disappointing bowl of ramen from Menya Aoyama, the newest stall at Ramen Champion? Compare the menu’s depiction of their Special Tonkotsu Ramen to the bowl I was actually served.
To me, the shredded leeks are important because their fresh, sharp taste cuts through the richness of the tonkotsu broth. As you can see, I got barely any in my bowl. I’m aware that this sort of discrepancy between photo and reality is par for the course in many other F&B contexts, but given the importance which is placed on presentation of the food in Japanese cuisine, I have higher expectations of a Japanese eatery than I do for McDonalds.
If you’re wondering whether I just opened my mouth and asked for more leeks, no, I didn’t. I didn’t really scrutinize my bowl when I collected it at the counter and only realized how lacklustre it looked once I’d carried it to my table some distance away. And I was starving, so I just started eating hoping it would taste better than it looked.
Unfortunately, it didn’t. The chashu was really, really bland, more or less tasteless except for an odd chemical tang I can’t put my finger on. The soup was okay, but again, blander in taste than the soup from Bario, Iroha, Ikkousha or Gantetsu. (Obviously I can’t compare Taishoken because tsukumen-style “soup” is totally different.) The egg was also okay, but similarly unremarkable. The noodles were fine. Had I ordered this bowl of ramen in a food court for $6, I would have shrugged my shoulders and said, “Well, you get what you pay for.” The problem is that I paid $15.