Ramen @ Carino Bistro – Calgary, AB

After a month-long hiatus, it’s time for me to get back into the swing of things. I’m backlogged with so many places to post about but I will start by telling you about my most recent meal. After learning on Twitter a couple of days ago that Carino Bistro has started offering a full-bodied ramen for lunch, I just had to try it out. I’ll be first to admit that I’m a bit picky when it comes to ramen. And to date, my favourite ramen has been the Toroniku Shio Ramen from Hokkaido Ramen Santouka in Vancouver. Here in Calgary, the one ramen dish I’ve enjoyed is the Chili Goma Ramen from Shikiji Japanese Noodles and Sushi. I was really excited about the ramen at Carino, particuarly after seeing the Twitter picture of ramen topped with mouth-watering pieces of seared BBQ pork/chashu. The only place I’m aware of here in Calgary where you can get the seared BBQ pork topping is Maruju but I was not a fan of their soup bases.

It didn’t take much for me to convince my foodie pals Anna of Anna’s Appetite and foodkarma of Food Karma to join me for lunch as we were all intrigued about the ramen. Our lunches included a refreshing salad to start. It consisted of mixed baby greens with a yuzu vinaigrette. The greens were crisp and fresh. Since I’m a huge fan of yuzu, I was hoping that the yuzu flavour would be a bit more pronounced in the vinaigrette.

carino_bistro_salad

Because we had a hard time deciding which ramen to order, we decided it was best to order one of each to share so that we would have the opportunity to try both. The first was the Miso Ramen ($10.95). It consisted of a miso (soybean) soup base and was topped with bean sprouts, cabbage, corn, bamboo shoots, boiled egg, wakame (seaweed), and BBQ Pork. The noodles were perfectly al dente. I’ll admit that I was slightly disappointed that the BBQ pork/chashu was not seared nor did it resemble the version that I’d seen in their Twitter picture. However, for this style of BBQ pork that they served, it was very well executed.  I really liked how flavourful and tender the pork slices were. I thought this pork was some of the best of this style that I’ve had in Calgary as far as ramen toppings are concerned. I was also impressed that the marinated soft-boiled egg was perfectly executed.

carino_bistro_miso_ramen

Next up was the Shoyu Ramen ($10.95), which consisted of soy soup base and was topped with bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, boiled egg, toasted seaweed, and BBQ Pork. Basically, the toppings were fairly similar to the Miso version except that this Shoyu version didn’t have corn nor cabbage and instead of wakame, it was topped with a piece toasted seaweed. Comparatively, there was a consensus amongst the three of us at the table that this shoyu broth was by far the favourite. We loved the depth of flavours in the soy soup base. I felt that the miso detracted away from the complex pork flavour. With the soy soup base, the flavours of the  rich pork broth really sang through. Of all the shoyu ramen that I’ve tasted in Calgary, I can say this was one of the best versions I’ve had to date. I’m actually really impressed with this Shoyu Ramen and would definitely go back to Carino to satisfy my ramen cravings.

carino_bistro_shoyu_ramen

For our third dish, foodkarma recommended that we try one of her favorites, the Mentaiko Pasta ($14.95), which consisted of pollack roe, baby scallops, prawns, shiso leaf, edamame, and shredded seaweed. I was a little worried about the shiso leaf at first as I’m not a fan of it but was relieved that the flavour was not overpowering. In fact, to my delight, I couldn’t taste much of the shiso at all. The pasta was perfectly al dente. The richness of this dish kind of reminded me of spaghetti carbonara but with a fusion twist. Overall, it was a very tasty dish and I definitely would order it again.

carino_bistro_mentaiko_pasta

To finish off the meal, we were given a complimentary order of Yuzu Sorbet. It was a great palate cleanser after such a rich but delicious meal. Since I love all things yuzu, I was crazy for this sorbet. It was perfectly balanced, not too sweet, and did not have the bitter edge like some of the yuzu sorbets I’ve tried in the past from other places.

carino_bistro_yuzu_sorbet

This was my first visit to Carino Bistro and I was quite impressed. The standout dishes were the Shoyu Ramen and the Mentaiko Pasta. I was a little bit skeptical initially about Italian and Japanese fusion but the Mentaiko Pasta dish proved that the combination really works. I can’t wait to go back to try other items on both their lunch and dinner menu as many of them sound intriguing.

Carino Bistro
709 Edmonton Trail NE
Calgary, AB
(403) 984-7534

http://www.carinobistro.ca

Carino Japanese Bistro + Wine on Urbanspoon

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