Top 3 ramen joints in Calgary
Whether you’re a certified Weeaboo or a ramen newcomer, here’s a list of ramen places to check out in Calgary
By Brett Luft, Web Editor
Last year I had the opportunity to live in Japan for about a year. While I’ve always liked Japanese food, I fell in love with ramen when I was living there. I would often walk 45 minutes to my favourite ramen shop in extreme heat or even mountains of snow.
When I came back, I needed to fulfill my addiction. Luckily Calgary has many ramen shops, but it’s often difficult to try them all. After rekindling my love of ramen in Tokyo over reading week, I’ve decided to create a list of the best places for first-timers and veterans alike to get their ramen fix.
Shiki Menya is easily my favourite place to eat in Calgary. Unlike some of my friends, I’m a huge noodle snob. I can tell the difference between store-bought or preserved noodles versus something made with a daily dose of passion.
Shiki Menya is the real deal. But it’s dedication to authentic ramen noodles also makes it a very difficult place to visit.
In order to get a ramen fix, one often has to arrive 30 minutes prior to opening because Shiki Menya only makes about 150 bowls every day. But because fresh ingredients are used it does make for a better bowl of ramen.
Aside from its ramen, Shiki Menya also makes some amazing side dishes. Its gyoza (Japanese pork dumplings) are amazing.
Shiki Menya is located at 827 1 Ave NE. If you’re ever in Bridgeland in the morning, Shiki Menya is worth checking out.
Hapa advertises itself as “modern Japanese cuisine.” That’s to say Hapa is less of a Japanese restaurant, and more of a Western-Japanese fusion. Hapa’s menu includes some traditional ramen and sprinkles in some less traditional meals. But for those willing to drift outside of the norm, Hapa is a pretty good spot to get a ramen fix.
One reason Hapa makes the list is because its hours are pretty easy. Because Hapa doubles as a bar, it’s often open much later than other ramen spots. Not only that, but Hapa happens to have my personal favourite type of ramen: tantanmen.
Tantanmen is different than your basic miso dish because it’s (traditionally) sesame based and packed with some peppery goodness. It’s spicy, but not overly spicy, and it has ground pork rather than your typical single-cut.
Hapa’s tantanmen is the closest thing I can get to the heavenly goodness I experienced in Japan, but be warned: rather than using sesame, Hapa opts for peanut butter. If you have a peanut allergy, I’d recommend steering clear of Hapa’s tantanmen.
You can find Hapa Izakaya downtown at 816 11 Ave SW.
Muku is a Kensington-based ramen restaurant. While it’s not my personal favourite — that title goes to Shiki Menya — it is the preferred stop of many of my Japanese friends.
I found ramen in Japan to be (obviously) unbeatable, so I was pretty excited to try their choice. It definitely lives up to the hype as it’s a great stop for anybody looking for an authentic ramen experience — or as close as one might get to an authentic experience in Calgary.
Rather than relying on “westernized” ramen, such as what other Kensington locations offer, Muku’s menu is pretty close to what you might find in Japan. Better yet, Muku is probably the best bet for students, as their menu is relatively inexpensive compared to the rest.
Visit Muku at 326 14 St NW.
While ramen is amazing by itself, it’s even better to eat with something else.
Gyoza is my personal favourite dish to have with ramen. Gyoza is a traditional Japanese dumpling typically filled with pork and spring onions.
As for types of ramen, I’d recommend trying miso-based ramen on your first excursion. Shouyu or Shio-based ramen is also a good option, but Westerners often find these to be a little too salty.
Whatever you eat, don’t be afraid to slurp the noodles a bit to make the experience more authentic.