New restaurant Musowu offering ramen that's worth a visit
Their chashu pork is some of the best you can find in Ottawa
On the lonelier stretch of Rideau St. as you approach the Montreal Rd. end, you may have noticed that things are starting to fill in. In what was once a Korean restaurant you'll now find Ottawa's latest noodle house: Musowu Ramen at 7470 Rideau St.
Musowu dining room - Ralf Joneikies/Ottawa Lookout
As always, I'm keen to try a number of things. I order the gyoza ($5.50), Japanese fried chicken ($8.00) and the Black Tonkotsu Ramen ($16.85). I may be the sole patron in the place, but all my food arrives at once.
The fried chicken batter appeared somewhat reddish, but I found that there was no spice-heat whatsoever to these moist and perfectly fried and delicious morsels. This was an above-average start with a portion larger than I expected.
Chicken karage - Ralf Joneikies/Ottawa Lookout
The gyoza arrives as they are traditionally meant to: pan-fried. I enjoyed the contrast of the soft wrapper meeting up against a crispy portion. Too many noodle houses make it easy on themselves and deep-fry these dumplings, stripping them of all nuance. This version is properly done but the filling feels too familiar, as if I've had these before.
I dip into the main event and find the broth is lukewarm at best. Not all my food needed to arrive at once and what a difference it might have made. Still, I found the broth to be pleasant although not entirely well extracted.
Musowu Black Tonkotsu Ramen - Ralf Joneikies/Ottawa Lookout
For a tonkotsu broth, pork bones and meat are boiled for extended periods of time. Here I had the sense that a commercial soup base had been used. The menma (marinated bamboo shoots), a favourite ramen topping that can often be woody, were tender and flavourful. The classic ramen egg was not soy-cured but only soft-boiled.
Then we come to the chashu pork – two generously cut rounds of perfectly seasoned, juicy and deeply porky meat that stands next to the Ramen Isshin version as one of the best in Ottawa. Unfortunately the noodles were bland, but at least they weren't overcooked.
If you are a hardcore fan of the Ramen experience, you may have a few things to quibble over. But in the case of Musowu it would be wrong to let the imperfect be the enemy of what's good. There's enough technique employed in their kitchen that, as they get feedback from customers, recipes will be tweaked to everyone's benefit.
And a final note: prices on their website appear to be one to three dollars higher per item than their in-dining menu.
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