A while ago, I've received this invite from Goku Raku Ramen to attend their opening but alas I can't make it due to work. Recently I received another invite and planned it as such so that I can attend. They have asked me to bring along a few bloggers but little that I know that the date clashed with the launch of MIGF which of course I wasn't invited to. However, only FatBoyBakes could make it and when we met him, he told us that he did get an invite to MIGF but only because he said yes to me first and he kept it. We're so honoured indeed to dine with him :D
As we walked into the restaurant, we were lead to the far back and noticed that the restaurant is really big. We met Tomoko Nakano, Wong Chwee Hann, Yvonne Tan and Chef Shinichi Kanai (pictured above). We were briefed that Donburi House (the operator of Goku Raku Ramen) is the non-halal arm of Texchem group. Still does not ring a bell? Texchem owns Sushi King :D
Yvonne took us to a tour of the kitchen and showed us where the tedious and labourious broths were made (no pics allowed here), followed by how ramen which is made here on a daily basis.
I have to say the broths made here are from a mix of fish, chicken and pork are certainly made with lots of love which you can certainly taste it! The tonkatsu broth is simmered for 17 hours where else the Gokuraku signature broth is boiled for 30 hours! They're boiled in 100 litres tanks and stirred every 3-4 minutes. During the tour, we witness the chef mashing up the boiled meat and bones on the strainer to "juice" out all the goodie bits from the bones and all into the broth. So now you know why the broth is so flavourful. We did asked Kanai San if they keep the soup boiling over night which he replied no due to safety reason. They'll turn off the fire and continue the next day. They even have imported water filter just for the broth and ramen.
Next, we were showed how ramen is made here using flour imported from Thailand. The machines were all brought in from Japan and are rather expensive, hence this outlet in Midvalley Megamall will make all the noodles and supply to their future openings at The Paradigm Mall (Kelana Jaya) and Gurney Paragon (Penang).
The ramen making process is no easy task even with the help of machineries. First the ingredients are mixed in a mixer before pouring into the rolling and cutting machine. The rolled out sheet is attached to a wooden rolling pin like handle. A second press is done by pressing two sheets of noodles into one to create a springy and bouncy noodles texture. These rolled up sheet will be left to rest for a couple of hours before shredding into ramen. I've processed a video here for you to watch the entire process. You can hear Yvonne's explanation on top of the questions fielded by us.
Next, the chef attached a shredding contraption to the machine. The noodle sheets go through this shredder and not only came out as shreds but in the correct portion size. The chef will weigh the portions at random to ensure the weight remained consistent. In Goku Raku, the ramen came in two sizes of thickness where the thick one is made from 3 types of flours whilst the thin one is made from 2 types. If you've watched the video, you would have heard that they do not sell their freshly made ramen AND no take aways for their ramen! I supposed it's for one to enjoy the ramen at it's best possible texture and temperature.
It is interesting to note that even cooking of the ramen is done to perfection with the help of machinery. The baskets are timed to lift up from the hot water to ensure each batch of noodles are cooked in the same temperature and timing.
We started off our dinner with an appetiser of Pirikara Negi Char Siew (RM7.90). Chef Kanai showed us that we need to lift of each slice of pork shoulder together with the lettuce and homemade chilli sauce and place everything inside our mouth to be eaten together. The char siew is extremely tender and the sauce made this a refreshing start.
We were showed earlier how Gyoza (RM7.90 - 6 pieces) is made here also using a special machine. The pre-made gyozas are placed on a hot plate and then after a certain time the chef put on the lid. The machine then steams up the gyozas making the based very crispy and the gyoza skin on top maintained a nice and soft texture. If they have done it nicely like the day we were at the review, as you bite into the gyoza, be prepared for a burst of broth ala xiao long bao. The gyoza here is amply filled indeed. Another must order for BoiBoi.
Next up, we got to try Tomato Maki (RM6.90 for 2 sticks) and Buta Bara Kushi (RM5.90 for 2 sticks). Tomato Maki has grilled thin pork belly slice wrapped around a cherry tomato whilst Buta Bara Kushi is deep fried breaded pork belly. Our BoiBoi loved the Tomato Maki when we brought him here for 2 occasions (yes it was that good that we have returned twice already!!) even though he dislikes tomato in general. I supposed he love the burst of juicy tomato when he bites into one together with the crispy pork belly. The Buta Bara Kushi has thicker slice of pork belly and they're very tender and juicy even though deep fried.
We shared a bowl of Ishiyaki Garlic Rice (RM16.90). Ishiyaki is the stone bowl the garlic rice is served in. The stone bowl is heated before the garlic rice is placed inside drizzled with a stamina sauce before topping with a raw egg. So before eating, you're supposed to mix everything up. We loved how the stone bowl actually creates a crispy rice crust at the bottom just like how we liked the crust from claypot chicken rice. Highly recommended for garlic rice lover!
As for the ramen, we started off from a weaker broth to the strongest just like how we do wine tasting *chuckle*. For the first ramen, we tried their best seller Tonkotsu Ramen. The one showed here is the basic of black fungus, spring onion, leek, bamboo shoot, and seaweed but for RM20.90, do ask for a bowl of Ultimate Tonkotsu Ramen which includes char siew and flavoured egg. For our return trips, we all have this and sapu (cleaned) the bowl clean including the broth! I have to say for that price, it's really worth it as for once we felt there are ample ingredients in the bowl as compared with the usual Japanese restaurants.
Oh yeah, this ramen is served with Mah You which is the blackish garlic oil. It is actually burnt garlic grounded into a paste. There's is a leek oil which is equally as fragrant but less stronger in flavour as compared with the garlic oil. They both gave the broth a totally different taste so experiment them yourself. The oils are not given separately to you, you'll need to request for the oil you would like, otherwise the default oil will be served straight in the bowl.
Gokuraku Ramen (RM19.90) is served next and is topped with char siew, onion, bamboo shoot, leek (from the leek oil and it's fried till blackish in colour) and seaweed. This is the broth that is boiled for 30 hours and the strongest of all. It's darker in colour due to the addition of shoyu. The broth is thick and is so flavourful. No porky smell is detected at all. If you prefer a strong flavoured broth, this is the ramen for you.
The last bowl of ramen we tried is the Gokuraku Miso Ramen (RM20.90). This has miso added to the Tonkotsu broth and is topped with cabbage, minced pork, flavoured egg and the default garlic oil. Surprisingly the miso gave the Tonkotsu broth a totally different identity at all. It wasn't salty nor the miso over powered the broth, in fact it's equally as flavourful.
What I liked is the additional toppings that you would like to add on is totally inexpensive. For example, extra char siew is only RM2.00 and nita mago (flavoured egg) is RM1.00 for one. FBB and I kept browsing the menu in disbelieve that the prices are so so reasonable here. Our return trips we ordered the Grilled Skewers set (arrghh I can't seems to find the photo) where all the 7 different skewers costed us only RM13.90!!! BoiBoi totally loves them. When he had his first bite of the chicken thigh skewer... he uttered "mmmm this is good meat" which made my jaw dropped as he hardly ever said such thing. A little foodie in the making?
By now, sake and soju would be have been made available. We tried the soju mix - Tenson Kourin Sour (RM24.90 for 2). The soju served here is actually potato wine with about 40% - 50% alcohol. You'll have a choice of either tonic water or 7 Up and between lemon or orange (the fun part is you get to juice them yourself!). We tried a combination of tonic water + lemon juice which turns out to be rather refreshing for me as it's on a tart side but Capt'n Hook preferred the sweeter 7 Up with orange juice.
By now, we were filled to the brim but we managed to try the Assorted Dessert (RM8.90) which has sampling size of annin tofu, rare cheese cake and banana fritter with vanilla ice cream. Annin tofu turned out to be everyone's favourite. It's almond jelly made with yoghurt, fresh milk, fresh cream, gelatine and almond (apricot kernels) powder. I usually stay away from almond jelly as it smells like ermm cockroach :p but over here, there's barely a hint of almond. The texture is soft and smooth.
At the end of the our dinner, FBB declared that he was glad to have skipped MIGF launch for this tasting session and it got to be great as he brought his family here for dinner just a few days after this session. Needless to say, for us too as we have returned twice. On our second trip, we bumped into KY & Haze!
We would like to thank Mabel for initiating the invite. Tomoko, Miss Wong, Yvonne and Chef Kanai San for hosting our delicious dinner. We're so going to be back often!
One last thing... do visit Goku Raku Ramen website to watch out for monthly promotions. Last month, ramens were given 50% discount on every Mondays. As for this month, there's a special set for 2 pax going at RM49.90 and so forth.
Goku Raku Ramen
Lot S25 & S26, Level 2
Mid Valley Megamall
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tel: 03 - 2282 3924
Tel: 03 - 2282 3924
Opening hours: 10.00am - 10.00pm