In a neighbourhood where you’d be hard pressed to find eateries older than your year old puppy, Ramen Taiko is an oddity. It opened its doors back in 2003 when Souled Out and Coffee Bean ruled the Mont Kiara roost and the neighbourhood was still verdant.
Now, thanks to a well-timed facelift, this erstwhile frowsily frumpy eatery has emerged from its chrysalis bearing more than a passing resemblance to a darling little ‘ramenery’ of the sort you’d find nestled in a Tokyo side street. And the customers have been showing their appreciation in spades.
An unabashedly pork-centric menu probably plays a big role in garnering diners’ approval, and that’s because the finely sliced chashu is amply marbled with plenty of fat, while the meat is suitably oleaginous but discreetly tasty and, happily, never reeks of porcine stench. When you consider that the portions are not massive and the setting isn’t exactly Rakuzen, the prices aren’t cheap, but take the enthusiastic (and I mean enthusiastic!), friendly and efficient service, the intimate and charming interior, and ‘far-from-the-maddingcrowd’ factor into consideration, it’s well worth the price.
Ramen rules the roost here, and Taiko offers everything from the basic Tokyo shoyu ramen with chashu, hard-boiled egg, bamboo shoots, fish cakes, spring onions and seaweed cooked in a deliriously tasty soup, to the more intricate Sapporo miso ramen which – apart from minced pork, corn kernels, bean sprouts and spring onions – contains butter in honour of the harsh winters of the province after which this noodle dish is named. There are also kimchi and Nagasaki chanpon for those with a predilection for hot, sour and spicy soups, although the soups ‘au naturel’ are more appealing, if Ramen Taiko only because they hit the spot as the ultimate comfort food.
And really, when push comes to shove, that’s what Taiko is all about: serving honest, modest, comfort food, from their chashu with cabbage salad and lashings of BBQ sauce, to the stewed duck with rice (heartwarming), braised pork belly with soya sauce (evocative of food from childhood, especially if you’re Chinese), and pumpkin croquettes (crunchy, perfect for the child within). Ramen Taiko is a quietly virtuoso display of simple Japanese, simply done well. Let’s put it this way, if Taiko was a car, it would be a Volvo – reliable, consistent and reassuring. And in the long run, it’s what takes you from A to B most comfortably every time. Fay Khoo
|Venue name:||Ramen Taiko||Contact:|
Unit 15-0-2B, Mont Kiara Shoplex, Jalan Kiara
|Opening hours:||Open daily, 11.30am-10.30pm|