The Ramen from the Snowy North - Menya Miyabi Hokkaido Ramen, Sunway Pyramid



Blasted by the cold air from the air-conditioner right above me, I took my first sip of green tea. The tea instantly hit the bottom of my stomach and a warm sensation surged through my entire body. Ahh…now I feel like I’m in Hokkaido! Well, not really. The chatter of a mixture of Chinese and English words brought me back to where I truly was, Menya Miyabi Hokkaido Ramen Restaurant, Sunway Pyramid, Selangor, Malaysia.

Originating in Japan, “the land of the rising sun”, Menya Miyabi opened its second set of Malaysian doors in Sunway Pyramid on 31st May 2016 (the first set of doors was in Queensbay Mall, Penang). As a “prequel” to its new milestone, Menya Miyabi had previously opened 4 outlets in Hokkaido (3 currently operating) and have been serving ramen for close to 20 years!


The taste?
Instead of fussing around to choose what to eat, I decided to choose the first thing on the menu, since the first thing on every menu SHOULD be their specialty, right? Based on this assumption, the winner was…Yaki-Miso Ramen. True enough, I later found out that this was their signature ramen, so this strategy actually worked!




A porcelain bowl filled with miso-coloured (yellowish-brown) soup, yellow ramen noodles, half of an onsen egg, a few slices of pork, menma (fermented bamboo shoots), spring onions and a square piece of seaweed for decoration. That’s what you get when you order a bowl of Yaki-Miso Ramen.

To me, one of the most important components of a good bowl of noodles is the soup. If a chef is truly a respectable one, his soup would taste splendidly unique and that there would be none other like it. As I filled my mouth with the first sip of soup and swallowed it down my throat, an “umami” flavour emerged to tease my appetite and salivate my palate. Then, as I took another sip, something new caught my tongue. There was a complex flavour within the soup that I was not able to fully understand or categorize. THAT was the kind of soup that I was looking for. Warm and complex, yet hearty enough to be considered a good, homemade soup. Although I knew that I had ordered a bowl of miso ramen, I was definitely not expecting it to become a world of mystery and adventure, one that I could taste many times over and still find something new. The mouthfeel had a medium thickness, but gave the impression of a hearty bowl of stew. However, unlike a regular bowl of miso soup, the ingredients of the soup did not sink to the bottom; hence, I did not need to stir every time I wanted to drink the soup. I was told by one of the waitresses that I could ask for extra soup if it was too salty; but as a yaki-miso soup, I thought that it was perfect just the way it was.

Then again, it wouldn’t be called “ramen” without noodles, would it? The noodles here had an egg yolk-yellow colour, a natural colour that's not like some bright-yellow, artificially-coloured noodles. Although a little shorter in length than I was expecting, it had a chewy-yet-firm texture similar to pasta cooked al dente. Combining the flavours of the complex soup, perfectly cooked noodles, half-cooked egg and pork slices that fall apart in your mouth, the Yaki-Miso Ramen was definitely a feast for the senses. 





And finally, an empty bowl means a happy customer…gochishousama deshita! (A Japanese phrase used after completing a meal)





I also tried the gyoza (a Japanese dumpling), as it seemed to be popular among the customers. One bite into it and you’ll taste the moistness that covers your mouth with broth-like juice and an umami flavour that fills your mouth. Within a 5mm thick, pale-yellow coloured wrapper lays a mixture of juicy minced chicken and thinly sliced vegetables. An aroma similar to chicken soup with onion and garlic would fill your olfactory (nose) and tantalise your taste buds. Begin to chew on it, and you’ll find that the juicy filling is wonderfully complemented by the perfect wrapper which has both an al dente texture as well as a crunchy texture thanks to the final grilling of the gyoza on a hot pan, done right before serving. Just eating it alone is satisfying enough, but you can also dip it in shoyu or any other condiments provided on the table to give it a salty and even more complex flavour.


Do take note:
The Menya Miyabi at Sunway Pyramid has a strict “no reservation” policy. This means that tables are available on a first come, first serve basis. Although this may seem strange to some people, is it actually similar to what is practiced in some restaurants in Japan where customers would queue up in a line for hours (even during winter and out in the cold), just to wait their turn to eat. At least this way, we get to experience a taste of the Japanese culture even before stepping into the restaurant! To me, this definitely depicts Menya Miyabi as being fair to all customers. It also teaches us that good things come to those who wait. In this case, delicious ramen is at the end of that waiting line.


Fun fact:
In Penang, 20% of customers were said to be Japanese, not Malaysian! This shows the approval of the Japanese themselves towards the authenticity of the food at Menya Miyabi. In fact, the ingredients used by Menya Miyabi restaurants are imported straight from Hokkaido, Japan! You can’t get any more authentic than that, can you?


Where is it?
Location:
Ground Floor, Sunway Pyramid Hotel West,
Jalan PJS 11/15, Bandar Sunway,
47500 Petaling, Selangor Darul Ehsan,
MALAYSIA

(Just walk out of the Orange Atrium Entrance and turn to your left, walk straight, and you’ll see the entrance to the hotel/mall. It’s next to Starbucks)

Tel: +603 5650 5118

Opening hours: 11am to 10pm




Glossary:
Al dente: The condition of the food (usually pasta) which is cooked thoroughly but still firm when bitten.

Miso & Yaki-miso: Usually in the form of a paste, miso is made of fermented soybeans. Yaki-miso is “fried miso”, which means that it is briefly fried before use so that the flavour can be intensified.

Onsen: A Japanese hot spring. In Japan, onsen eggs used in ramen are usually cooked in onsen water for a long period of time in order to produce a half-boiled egg. This technique can be replicated by cooking eggs at a low temperature for a long period of time to produce a similar effect.

Umami: A taste profile known as the “5th taste” (besides sweet, salty, sour and bitter) denoting a meaty, savoury taste and originating in, where else? Japan.


Reviews by other bloggers on the Menya Miyabi branch in Queensbay Mall, Penang:

If you’re feeling more adventurous and want to know more about the original Menya Miyabi restaurants in Japan, check out their website (http://www.menya-miyabi.com)  (in Japanese).


Ps. Sit on the 3rd seat from the right (individual sitting right in front of the kitchen) to get that cold blast of Hokkaido “wind”! (Also known as the air-conditioner.)

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Pocari Sweat...The Isotonic Drink of Japan

Calpis: Is it any good?

Dr Pepper - Cough syrup? Pepper-flavoured? What is this thing?