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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Bites: Kai Japanese @ Bull Creek

Ramen has always been a pleasure food for me.  The act of slurping piping hot noodles is something mom strongly suggests against, but in cold weather, it is simply joy.  Summer has been quite mild this year and with the festive season kicking in, most places are often close.  But if you are craving for some ramen, it is good to know your choices.  To feed my ramen cravings this time, I headed to a quaint place in Bull Creek called Kai Japanese.  With no more than 15 seats in the eatery, it is highly recommended to come before the peak hours which are normally 12-1pm or 6.30-8pm.
While many people here ordered Bentos and Donburis, their ramen is equally famous.  XL, Fishman and I ordered different types of ramen to see which came best.  To accompany our cha-su (sliced pork) laden ramen, we also called for a side of Kaarage.PC280010Bloody delicious.  It was srispy, fragrant and tender in each bite making the Kaarage at Kai so good it is only to be beaten by my favourite one in Toraya.  Squeeze some lemon to reduce the oiliness of dish dish before dunking it back into a rich chili mayonnaise for a food-gasm.  Outrageous.  Not bad at all.  
The first ramen on the table that day was the Shoyu Ramen or Soy-based Ramen ($9.90).  Initial impressions were decent but the overpowering flavor of the bamboo shoots makes it a hard sell.  For some odd reason, the “canned bamboo shoots” flavor were overly intense.  For this reason, my favourite Shoyu is still the one at Pak Dosukoi Ramen in Fremantle or the City.  After that comes my Miso Ramen ($9.90).OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne thing to note about Kai’s ramen is their soy egg which is given for all flavors of ramen.  It is superbly moreish and not many places in Perth (if any at all) serves it the way Kai does. In fact, a ramen place called Arigataya (Roe St, Northbridge) served me a fully hard boiled one which was sadly, boring.  But that is where the good news ends for my Miso Ramen.   The soup had a distinctive Miso taste that was slightly spicy.  But my biggest dislike about this was how there were chunky slices of vegetables throughout my soup. It felt in many ways, catered to a distinctive group of people despite the generous slices of Cha-su.  Even more dislike was how the vegetable tended to overpower the flavor of the miso at times.  An OK ramen this was, but definitely to Nao Ramen (Murray St., Perth) for the best Miso Ramen albeit its significantly more expensive pricing.
While the Shoyu and Miso Ramen did not quite hit my fancy, there was one particular ramen that totally hits the sweet spot.  It was Kai Japanese’s Tonkatsu Ramen ($9.90).PC280018It was simply superb this one.  Look at the how rich the soup is.  Ramen for me is all about the soup.  You can take away the egg, the meat, the Naruto and all the other condiments.  But if the soup is good, it is something to rave about already. Such is the story of the ramen.  The noodles like its other less favorable counterparts were cooked to perfection, the Japanese al dente.  Pick it up with a pair of chopsticks and it retains enough springiness to keep its strand of noodle wavy, not withered like a dead plant.    Considering how lardy this was, it definitely is not an everyday affair but when you are in the mood for something like this after a month of fasting, you deserve it.   If it is any consolation, the Cha-su here is extremely lean unlike the ones in Dosukoi, Nao or Ippudo Ramen.  In fact, it reminds me like the one at Menya Musashi. 
While I can really repeat the same thing over and over again, I have to say that Kai Japanese really did leave a great impression.  Despite needing a 20 plus minutes drive to reach, it was worth it.  Tasty noodles, with some really good flavor.  For me, it was all about the Tonkatsu Ramen but you might like something different, so do not limit yourself and give it all a try :)!  Lastly, the price at Kai Japanese in Bull Creek is really reasonable.  All their ramen is priced at $9.90 which puts it on par with Dosukoi Ramen and about $3.50 cheaper(for the Cha-su Ramen) than Nao Ramen in the city.  If you live in the Melville area, you have my envy! But if you are like me who sometimes suffer from a Ramen craving, definitely try Kai Japanese when other venues are exhausted.  Oh and did I mention that parking is a breeze here?  Super convenient ;)!

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