Sunday, July 10, 2011

Ramen Bull - 07/06/2011

8718 W 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(310) 205-0124

Bredbar popup maestro, Noriyuki Sugie, is at it again, this time with a summer long ramen popup. Ramen has long been one of my favorite comfort foods and I seriously lamented missing the Yatai Ramen popup last year which offered a gentrified take on classic ramen as well as unique contemporary ramen creations. Therefore, I was happy to hear Chef Noriyuki Sugie would be doing a new ramen pop-up this summer called Ramen Bull that focuses exclusively on ramen made with beef in place of the traditional pork.

Being at BreadBar means that Ramen Bull is strictly BYOB so we chose to bring a selection of pale ales, thinking the bitterness would be the perfect way to cut the weight of the ramen. Despite not serving alcohol, Ramen Bull does have some intriguing and pure house made hibiscus and pineapple sodas.

Fried Ramen - Sea Salt
The meal kicked off with a small snack of crunchy ramen bits covered in sea salt. Dipped in vinegar then fried, the flavor was reminiscent of Doritos chips meshed with a sharp acidity on the finish.

Beef Tongue
Nori-san asked if he could bring us a side order of his beef tongue to which we happily agreed. Though I was hoping for the more robust flavor of a yakiniku style tongue, Nori described the preparation as a French style, braised then thinly sliced which usually results in an immensely tender but fairly bland tongue. This preparation was a combination of the two, with the silky texture of a braised tongue but laced an oily undercurrent of buttery char.

Short Rib Ramen
Though the rich flavor of the meat is apparent, the soup also carries a slightly bitter smack and as a result the overall effect was somewhat more restrained than I expected The noodles here were a thin straight wheat variety reminiscent of a very al dente angel hair. All of the bowls came with classic ramen accoutrements including: a delicious marinated egg complete with semi-molten yolk as well as wood ear mushrooms and scallions.

Ox Tail Ramen
This was probably my favorite of the bunch. The meat itself was falling off the bone and lent the broth a robustly dark sweetness as well as a sharp meaty tang. This bowl utilized what I consider the more traditional crinkled style ramen noodle, similar to the previous bowl but a tad bit softer and with a slightly more toothsome feel.

Spicy Ramen
Easily the heaviest of the four bowls I sampled. Though I enjoyed the previous two bowls, I found the simplicity of the ground beef more fitting to a ramen dish. The broth is brimming with an oily heartiness and creeping heat both of which are well-matched to the weighty thick noodle.

Corned Beef Ramen
Noticeably softer and slicker than the rest; the noodles were a wide flat variety made from organic Canadian flour rather than the traditional wheat. The corned beef was a bit tough for my tastes though I appreciated how the savory peppery bite of the meat seemed to permeate the broth making this the most cohesive of the four bowls.

Ramen has never been about refinement and balance instead it revels in its street food origins. Though purists might decry the lack of pork-based menu offerings, I appreciated the change of pace as well as the deeper more concentrated meatiness of the beef-based broth. With Ramen Bull, Chef Sugie manages to blend flourishes of refinement yet maintain the integrity and informality so key to a good ramen-ya.


Deb said...

Sounds wonderful - I'm going to try making the fried noodles today, but will use my new HimalaSalt pink salt from Sustainable Sourcing (here's their website: so you can try it too!). Thanks for posting!

miss morsel said...

So how did the beer end up pairing with the ramen? Good? Bad?

The oxtail ramen looks bomb.

Epicuryan said...

I was hoping to use the beer to provide contrast and the Belgian IPA worked decently a bit sweeter and less hoppy than a traditional IPA.

The ramen is definitely worth a try with or without beer.