This Asoke ramen shop doubles as a lively izakaya.
Like many a good Japanese import, Uma Uma has its backstory straight. This ramen restaurant traces its roots back to 1953 Fukuoka and a ramen cart that was opened by the father of the guy who’s now company president. The intervening years are a little murky to follow, but what we know is it landed in Bangkok by way of Singapore in mid-2015.
Plopped among the girly bars and dodgy massage parlors of Sukhumvit Soi 23, Uma Uma has somehow flown under our radar until now. But the place clearly hasn’t escaped everyone’s attention—a mid-week visit finds the downstairs bar and upstairs dining room filled wall-to-wall with Japanese expats. Take that as a seal of approval.
The pride of the place is a bowl of Hakata-style tonkotsu ramen (B220) whose bouncy thin noodles come in a pork-bone broth that’s slightly sweet and viscous, joined by an expertly runny egg and chashu that’s the appealing type of fatty. You can have it in a spicy version (B150/220) that benefits from a liberal dose of chili oil or, better yet, try the mazesoba (B250), a form of dry ramen that actually originated in Uma Uma’s Singapore branch. Here, the chunkier soba noodles are topped with spring onions, bamboo shoots, chashu and onsen egg. All mixed together, it’s far creamier and more flavorful than we’d have picked.
However, this is a ramen shop that’s as much an izakaya in both mood and menu. We’re actually more taken with their gyoza (B130/10 pieces), non-oily, bite-sized morsels bursting with pork and real ginger, and kushiyaki (grilled skewers). On the latter, we’d skip the assorted platter (B255/5 skewers) and plump straight for the torikawa (B55 each), sticks of wonderfully crisp grilled chicken skin that make the perfect drinking snack. On that note, drop by and you’ll find most tables several rounds deep in Suntory whiskey highballs (B140), umeshu (from B150/glass) and draft Sapporo (B150/glass).
With its pared-back wood and concrete design, Uma Uma feels a bit too classy for its neighborhood. A shoe-in for Nana-Asoke’s best ramen, this is also one of the city’s liveliest izakayas.