Bangkok’s ramen lovers were queueing up for hours to get a taste of this Tokyo import back in July, 2017. Menya Itto rode into town boasting of being the no. 1 ranked ramen shop on tabelog.com (Japan’s Wongnai, basically). However, half a year later and, outside the bristling office lunch trade, you can safely walk in and immediately claim a seat.
That, we’d argue, speaks more to the fickleness of trends than anything to do with quality. Tucked underground in one of Siam-Phloen Chit’s lesser-frequented malls, this minimalist, light wood affair is about as zen as a fast food venture gets.
Saying “fast food” is under-selling Menya Itto, though. The specialty here is a seafood and chicken broth that’s smoother and less greasy than the tonkotsu (pork bone) version which has come to typify ramen in Bangkok. What else stands out here are the two sizes of freshly made noodles and the incredibly tender trio of sous-vide meat toppings (chicken, pork belly and pork shoulder).
The signature tsukemen (dipping ramen B270/B350) is one of the absolute best around, with a rich and complex broth that unfurls with the flavors of chicken and shellfish, and carries a touch of natural sweetness. To go with, the cold, wholewheat noodles are springy and almost as thick as udon: perfect for dipping. Swimming in the soup, a pair of ground chicken balls carry the satisfying crunch of cartilage and a touch of yuzu. If it’s all a bit intense, there’s a thermal kettle of light dashi stock to water down your broth.
The similarly robust soup of the Noko Gyokai ramen (B195/240) should appease even the staunchest pork-bone aficionado, though the mouthfeel is far cleaner and a fine match for the thinner noodles. Be sure not to deprive yourself a deliciously fudgy half-boiled egg (B35).
In comparison, the Shio ramen (B230/280) comes in a clear chicken soup that’s lighter and yet slightly saltier, doused in a fine layer of scallop oil. It’s a strangely wholesome tasting bowl of ramen; maybe why we find it a teeny bit boring. We’d definitely recommend the gyoza (B90/5 pieces), though: thin-skinned dumplings with almost xiao long bao levels of juiciness.
Where things fall down, perhaps, is that this is not at all a place to eat and drink the night away (those 9pm closing times), though the B89 weekday deal on draft Asahi takes the edge off. With slick, smiling efficiency, Menya Itto not only adds a curious new dimension to Bangkok’s ramen scene, it’s a contender for the crown.
Watch our video below:
This review took place in November 2017 and is based on a visit to the restaurant without the restaurant's knowledge. For more on BK's review policy, click here.