In all my days of going out for ramen, I’ve seen an eight-hour broth, a 10-hour broth, and even a 20-hour broth. Current trends seem to be about jamming as many hours into the broth’s cook time as possible, with every menu having to tell me exactly how many minutes, hours, and days it took to bring me what is usually a more affordable option at Japanese restaurants.
I had a chance to check out one of these new izakayas that have been popping up on Whyte Avenue, Yukata Japanese Bistro and Bar, which took over the remains of the late Ramen-centric Nudoru in September. The new spot has a distinct approach, with more of a focus on cocktails, mocktails, small bites, and some re-imagined maki rolls. Oh, and ramen which boasts a broth cook time of over 30 hours.
So, of course, I ordered the 30-hour Original Tonkotsu Ramen. How much of a difference could an extra 10 hours make? In addition, I also got the Kamakaza Roll, which included a spicy scallop and tuna combination with kettle chips on top (kind of like tuna tar-tar meets sushi).
As aforementioned, I’m no ramen rookie. I’ve dined with the best in town, from Tokiwa to Menjiro, and have even experienced global titans of the craft like Vancouver’s Fukuoka-style Danbo Ramen. So naturally, I was surprised when my ramen came out, and I was handed a mortar and pestle filled with sesame seeds. This was a first. I looked at my dining compatriots, confused. My server made a quick gesture, a motion of grinding seeds. I proceeded. And then it all made sense.
As I ground the sesame down, a toasty aroma filled the air. I dashed the powder into the broth, took a single sip and was delighted. It was an exceptionally flavourful and rich tonkotsu, and the nutty flavour of the sesame added a different dimension. The pork belly matched the richness of the broth with its fatty, tender cutlets, and the sweetness of the green onions came through as well. I’m not sure if it was the 30 hours, the sesame, or just an overall good broth, but this is now my go-to choice for ramen on Whyte Avenue.
Yutaka Japanese Bistro & Bar
Strathcona | 10532 82 Ave NW, Edmonton | 780.757.6836 | @yutakayeg
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