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Wednesday 22 June 2011

Nomiya, Edmonton AB - satisfying bowl of salty savory ramen

Rating: Service 7.5/10, Food 6.5/10

After what felt like weeks of cold, gloomy and wet downpour, we called up a few friends and dropped by Nomiya for some ramen. The darkwood tables and minimalistic decor has a zen like feel to it, though it was marred by the air conditioner that was set on Arctic blast... so everyone had to keep their coats on throughout the meal. Service was polite, unobtrusive, with snippets of Japanese occasionally floating between the staff and kitchen, and a salty seafood tang in the air, Nomiya looked promising.

Nomiya boasts a large and varied menu, with sashimi/sushi rolls (which they strangely categorize as tapas), grilled skewers and seafood, and of course a ramen selection. With the a/c on full blast, it wasn't surprising all of us opted for a bowl of ramen and rounded things out with a few rolls to share.

the FOOD
Boasting that the soup base for most of the ramens was a rich Tonkotsu based soup (loads of pork bones simmered for hours into a fatty, particulate rich broth), most of us at the table order the Shio ramen and the Shoyu ramen. We avoided the Tan Tan and Spicy Miso ramen, as some of our friends having tried it before stated those ramens were a bit on the bland side of the road.

Shoyu Ramen
The tonkotsu broth has an earthy flavor with a rich deep caramel color from the soysauce its seasoned with. The ramen has a nice springy-bouncy mouth feel and absorbs the salty broth nicely without getting overly mooshy. Its loaded up with 2 thin slices of charshu (hoisin sauce marinated roast pork), half a boiled egg with hints of soysauce or tea leaves it was cooked in, a handful of corn kernels, a few pieces of crunchy bamboo shoots, and julienned kikurage fungus (think crisp mushrooms). There was supposed to be bean sprouts, but I think they forgot, and the bowl of ramen was garnished with some diced green onions and a piece of roasted nori (seaweed). The assorted vegetables added in some textural elements, while the broth tied everything nicely together. The meat portion was laughabley small, but overall, not a bad bowl of ramen.

Shio Ramen
We expected the Shoyu ramen to be super salty from the soysauce component, with the Shio being less salty. Nope. It was the opposite. The tonkotsu broth in this ramen bowl was seasoned with kelp, seasalt and what most people at the table detected - miso paste (lightly fermented salted soybean paste)... translated into a very salty salty salty broth.   The broth isn't as completely opaque as I would have liked (the longer the broth is simmered, the whiter and richer tasting it becomes), but its flavorful none the less.  Paired with the ramen and the same vegetables as the Shoyu ramen, it balanced out some of the salt, but once the noodles and veges were gone, the broth was too salty on its own.

the Rolls
The Tropical roll was a pretty roll - thin slices of avocado and mango enveloping rice, salmon and tempura'ed shrimp, with the colors blending into a palate of spring - pastel pinks, greens, and yellows. While it passed for esthetics, the rice component disappointingly tasted like it was merely scooped out of the rice cooker and rolled up with no regard for seasoning it with rice vinegar, salt and sugar. Had they seasoned the rice, it would have elevated this roll beyond ordinary.  Still, it was a very pretty looking roll.

The spicy tuna roll was an average roll - the bland rice worked in this roll's favor - it toned down the heat from the chunky chili sauce mixed into the tuna mixture. The chili sauce overwhelmed all the other flavors - blanketing the tongue with, well, hot sauce.  The spicy tuna roll would have benefited with more depth of flavor - the addition of lemon/lime juice to mellow out the harsh bite from the chilis or a sweet note to bring out the creaminess of the tuna.

The Saba Infernal, fury.. something like that roll was the best of the rolls of the night. It might have been the use of a blowtorch at tableside that made my inner pyro grin... who doesn't like flambe?  And we all had our eyebrows intact afterwards. A salmon and avocado roll is topped with saba (mackeral) sashimi, and the saba is happily swallowed up in a large tongue of flame until its cooked and the rice is toasted a bit. The finishing flames adds a nice smokiness to the saba and to the roll where parts of it got singed.  The oil released from the saba soaked into the roll adds an extra hit of fishiness. Mmmm.

Overall, Nomiya is a decent place to grab a quick hot bowl of salty savory ramen. The blowtorched saba roll is fun and adds an "ooooh!" factor at tableside. Quibbles include completely unseasoned sushi rice which was a bit on the wet side, and small portions of meat and vege in the ramen bowls.  Eyebrows are optional, and they are open despite a confusing urbanspoon listing saying they're closed... sadly, they're not open late night - a hallmark of traditional ramen joints in Japan.

Address 3803 Calgary Trail, Edmonton AB
Phone (780)462-1300
Hours Varies Open for lunch and dinner daily
Nomiya on Urbanspoon


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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I haven't been to Nomiya yet (currently, not in a hurry unless, given the current weather, there is hiyashi chuuka in their menu!); however, either the description in the menu is wrong or there was a mix-up (somewhere).

Tonkotsu refers usually to the base of the broth and, in this case, it should be the pork bones. That by itself is a type of broth but, nowadays, it is mixed with something else. As in... Shoyu, yes, would be soy sauce and shio whould be sea salt. But, in a bowl of shio ramen, the broth should NOT contain miso paste. If that was the case, it should just be called "miso ramen". Also, not all miso paste are salty. Depending on the ones used, it might just be enough.

Technically, sashimi is the name of sliced raw meat and served by itself. The topping of a nigirizushi would be called netta (or neta, depending on spelling).

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