Dining out_ sansotei ramen an instant success _ ottawa citizen

We were fully absorbed in our ramen huddles, heads and shoulders drooped over beautiful bowls of steaming soup, tugging noodles out of piping hot broth into our mouths with minimal flourishes, hoping for as little brothy spatter as possible on our clothing.

Before it opened two months ago, the restaurant on a quiet stretch of Bank Street north of Laurier Avenue had been much anticipated thanks to online buzz. Food noodles Sansotei is the sister restaurant of a three-location chain in Toronto, and ramen devotees in Ottawa, where choices for the new millennium’s most trendy soup had been very limited, were keen to pounce on bowls of what they hoped would be the “real thing.”

The rush for ramen, I digress, has occurred despite the fact that Ottawa is blessed with superior pho at locations too numerous to count, such that I wonder if foodies now take the city’s proliferation great Vietnamese soup for granted.

Noodles and company indonesian peanut saute But back to the review.

During the last month, I’ve made several trips to Sansotei, taking lunch or dinner early to beat the line-ups that often materialized. Noodles and company salads (The restaurant doesn’t take reservations.)

At the narrow, neutral, egalitarian place that seats 30, I’ve gotten right down to business, ordering quickly from the concise menu. Noodles and company vernon hills The soups have landed speedily on my table, in just a bit more time than it’s taken to admire the low-key decor — thick ropes hanging overhead and one long mirrored wall makes the place appear larger.

From the choices of a half-dozen or so starters and soups, I’ve had some consistently made treats, finding some treats worth craving and one or two things that appealed less.

All of Sansotei’s soups rely on pork-bone-based broth, made daily, and they’re differentiated by different additions that might include chicken or fish among their components and which meld beguilingly well.

I’m most keen, but just by a bit, on the evocatively named tonkotsu black, which delivered with all its ingredients — a deeply savoury broth, topped with black garlic oil that felt fresh and revitalizing rather than simply heavy, toothsome noodles with some nice, springy resistance, two discs of pork belly with good meat-to-fat ratios and a proper sear, halves of soft-boiled egg, plus morsels of green onion and wood-ear mushroom to add crunch and focused flavours.

Lighter but still very appealing was the shio ramen, flavoured simply but not overly with sea salt. Hours for noodles and company I preferred it to shoyu (soy sauce-flavoured) ramen.

Sansotei’s website, which offers more of a lesson in ramen than its menu, notes that some soups are more authentically served with thick or thin noodles, and servers will always ask your preference. Noodles n company Authenticity aside, I’d just as soon have thick noodles all the time.

For a change-up, I’d be fine with the spicy tan tan ramen, a medium-heat riff on Sichuan’s dan dan noodle, even if once I reached the ground-pork-laced dregs of the bowl, I wondered if I would have been happier with unadulterated dan dan noodles.

I’m not likely to order again the tomato-based ramen, which was distinguished by a hefty single scallop, freshly shucked, untrimmed and tough.

Of the limited number of smaller, snackier choices, I’d happily eat once more the pork gyozas, even if, after a server’s notice that they might take 15 to 25 minutes to make, they were to arrive after the ramen. Noodles and company 29th street Ditto the deep-fried chicken karaage. Noodles and company jacksonville Slow-braised chicken wings have good five-space flavour and succulence, but will disappoint eaters who want their chicken skin crisp rather than flabby.

Sansotei’s liquor license has been filed, and if the Ottawa location follows the Toronto models, Sapporo beer will be served. Noodles and company stapleton Meanwhile, another distinctly Japanese and curious beverage can be had. Noodles and company denver You will probably have to ask a server or knowing neighbour how to open the soda that’s been stoppered with a marble.

Sansotei’s instant success makes me hope that other ramen purveyors that have built up the ramen scenes in Toronto, Vancouver or even Manhattan, will scout out Ottawa and help to raise the soup standard here. When does noodles and company close All I can say regarding more Japanese broth and noodles is: bring them on.