There are oodles of noodles on Central’s Wellington Street, with lunchtime becoming peak time for these shops and queues going around corners of buildings and down pavements for pho, wonton soup, ramen and more noodle dishes.
The most famous Japanese noodle dish, ramen, is eaten year-round and comes in different versions including shio, shoyu, miso and tonkotsu. In addition to stellar noodles and broth, ramen requires the right balance of thin, melt-in-the-mouth slices of meat (usually pork or pork belly), the occasional soft-boiled egg and a touch of julienned herbs and vegetables. Too much of these ingredients and the add-ons become too distracting from the noodles and soup base.
Some of the best ramen shops in Hong Kong have been awarded Michelin stars and other commendations. They’ve been around for years, perfecting soups or specialising in different types of ramen. But beyond traditional spots, new-era ramen shops such as RAMEN CUBISM have popped up, creating new dining experiences by crafting hybrid soups and utilising less common ingredients.
Native to Osaka and expanding into Asia, the RAMEN CUBISM brand is helmed by two young celebrity chefs, Hayashi Takao and Matsumura Takahiro, and in their home town, RAMEN CUBISM is famed for its creative soup bases. They’ve had a successful launch in Hong Kong since opening in January of this year, but only time will tell whether the restaurant is here to stay, with the ramen competition remaining fierce.
The Premium Cubism ($88/small or $118/large) was the star of the show. The broth was well balanced – savoury, creamy, not too rich or thick. The noodles had the perfect chew we’d expect, and the soup ratio was generous, allowing the noodles to soak up a bit of the broth. Thin slices of pork belly, julienned spring onion and bamboo shoots were top-notch garnishes.
We were also served two craft beers from Japan paired with snacks: COEDO Shiro ($58), a light yet full-bodied white beer with hints of banana and pineapple with a smooth, sweet finish, and COEDO Ruri ($58), which is heavier and more bitter.
For snacks, we recommend trying the Japanese fried chicken ($38). Lightly breaded and tender, the JFC held the freshly squeezed lemon with each bite.
The last soup we tried was the new Greenwood Bird – mackerel broth ($98), which was supremely Instagrammable. The clear broth is made from Japanese mackerel and prawn, garnished with sliced chilli, leek, cabbage and mushrooms, with jumbo prawns served on the side. The soup base was light and slightly sweet, but the execution wasn’t as impressive as the presentation. We were confused about what to do with the prawns. Should we have eaten them separately or with the ramen? The noodles soaked up most of the soup, becoming too soft, and the added ingredients felt unnecessary. We found there wasn’t a lot of soup in the bowl to begin with, and one of our hosts explained that the ratio of soup to noodles is mainly for Instagram, so that explains it.
My friend and I left RAMEN CUBISM feeling satisfied, and the prices are super affordable for lunch and dinner. In many ways, this ramen shop is a game changer, breaking the conventional rules when it comes to mastering the art of a bowl of Japanese noodles, but its originality is undermined when the execution needs work.
Truthfully, social media can help both local and globally famous restaurants and chains to market their signatures in order to attract guests, but I’d hate to see RAMEN CUBISM sacrificing its high-quality craftmanship by focusing on making its dishes aesthetically pleasing for the ‘gram or Hong Kong’s food-hype culture.
Basement, Yuen Yick Building, 27–29 Wellington Street, Central, 2399 0811
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.
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