I’ll be first to admit that I was never a fan of ramen until earlier this year when I tried the Ramen Santouka location in San Jose, California. I’ve had ramen many times before at different restaurants abroad. Locally, I’ve even been to both Shikiji and Muku when they first opened in Calgary. I’d tried bowl after bowl of ramen and never really found one that really impressed me until that bowl of Shoyu Ramen at Ramen Santouka in San Jose. Since then, I’ve been back to the Ramen Santouka location in Vancouver twice, once for the Shio Ramen with toroniku (pork cheek) and the second for the Spicy Miso Ramen with toroniku. What has impressed me the most about the ramen at Santouka is the depth of flavour in the delicate creamy pork broth. This is the very thing that I had found to be lacking in many of ramen I’ve tried in the past. I’ve found many versions to be quite fatty/oily/heavy and one noted in flavour.
A colleague of mine had tried the Chili Goma Ramen at Shikiji recently and raved about. He convinced me to go there for lunch to check it out and see how it compares with my experience at Santouka. The Chili Goma Ramen ($12.60 for lunch; $14.60 for dinner) contained a spicy chili and sesame soup base and was topped with green onions, ground pork, bamboo shoots, shitake mushrooms, sesame seeds, chopped peanuts, and chili threads. This Chili Goma Ramen may actually be known as Tan Tan Ramen or Tantan-men at other ramen-ya (ramen shops). The Tan Tan Ramen/Chili Goma Ramen is actually the Japanese version of the classic Chinese Sichuan dish, the Dandan Noodles or Dan Dan Mian. I found this version at Shikiji to be quite flavourful and I could definitely taste the sesame and nutty notes. The broth is actually not as spicy as it looks. The ground pork was very tender and flavourful and the noodles were perfectly al dente. Overall, I really enjoyed the contrasting textures and flavours of the toppings.
While I can’t vouch for the rest of the menu items at Shikiji, I will say this Chili Goma Ramen is certainly one of the best bowls of ramen that I’ve had here in Calgary. But I wouldn’t exactly go so far as to say that this bowl of ramen rivals that of the famous ramen-yas in Vancouver though it was definitely very good for Calgary standards and I would go back to Shikiji to have it again. However, in comparison to Ramen Santouka, I would say Ramen Santouka still remains my favourite.
Shikiji Japanese Noodles and Sushi
1608 Centre St N