One of Tokyo's top chicken ramen chains arrives in Bangkok.
It takes 10 hours of simmering and a bunch of whole chickens to make Menya Takeichi’s thick soup.
You won't find the usual tonkotsu pork ramen here—this chain is regularly lauded as one of Tokyo's top names for chicken ramen and has spread to Singapore before arriving in Bangkok.
Choose from shoyu (soy sauce), shio (salt) or spicy sauce to go with the soup and tuck into the tender slow-cooked chicken breast chashu. A bowl of ramen starts at B135 for small and B195 for regular size.
Also try the deboned chicken wing karaage (B120-180) and rice ball with fried chicken (B40).
Menya Takeichi is every bit your Bangkok community mall ramen joint: it has connections to a legendary restaurant in Tokyo; it has acres of contrasting blond-and-dark wood laminate; it has an atrocious soundtrack playing on the stereo.
Here though you won’t find a single mention of the words “pork” or “tonkotsu.” Menya Takeichi’s specialty is chicken-broth ramen, propped up by claims that it’s the most popular chicken ramen shop in all of Tokyo, now franchised across the country as well as to Singapore.
The spiel goes that it takes 8kg of whole chicken to make the stock for every 10 bowls of ramen. These are simmered for over 10 hours to result in a texture which, in the restaurant’s words, “is gorgeously luxurious and rich in collagen.” That sounds just about right. The white broth is so gelatinous that leave your bowl undisturbed for a minute and a heavy, transparent film will develop on the surface.
This is ramen for the most hardened stomachs, available in just four variations: flavored with salt, soy sauce, spicy sauce or a clear soy broth, priced from B130 for a small portion up to B245 for a big bowl garnished with plentiful sheets of nori, a perfectly fudgy egg, bamboo shoots, two chunks of white chicken meat and two chicken meatballs.
Tokyo’s original Shinbashi branch, the menu tells us, favors the richer flavor of soy sauce. We’d have to agree. The character of Menya Takeichi’s broth does get a bit one dimensional—you really don’t have anything happening flavor-wise except chicken and more chicken—and the soy adds a depth which the simple salt broth lacks. It’s easy to love a bowl of ramen this decadent, though give us some noodles with a little more bite and springiness and we’d probably love it more.
While you wait for your ramen, chew on some perfectly crisp tori karaage (deep-fried chicken, B120/3 pieces, B180/5 pieces) which don’t shy away from keeping the odd piece of deliciously chewy cartilage in the meat. Save space for one of the fried chicken rice balls (tori tenmusu, B40) as well—for that price, it would be a crime not to. And rest assured that if you turn up with a dieter, they can entertain themselves with a not-half-bad salmon rice bowl (B220), well-flavored with tangy shiso leaf and washed down with a wheaty green tea (B40 with unlimited refill). No outside alcohol allowed.
This review took place in July 2016 and is based on a visit to the restaurant without the restaurant's knowledge. For more on BK's review policy, click here.