Shikiji, Shibuya, Wa’s (Calgary) – The Great Ramen Shootout
After being introduced to ramen by Jules and her bro at Kintaro in Vancouver’s West End, I was eager to try to find something similar in Calgary. Here are three of the best (in my humble opinion) from Shikiji, Shibuya Izakaya, and Wa’s.
First up: Shikiji. This is the Miso Ramen (pork, green onions, corn, bean sprouts, noodles in a soy bean soup base). The noodles are well made and have the springiness I like. Be careful to not let your ramen sit in its soup any longer than it has to or it will slowly get mushy. The plethora of included vegetables fills your mouth with different textures. It comes with 1 thin strip of pork so in that respect, not a great value. The pork itself is relatively fatty and has a very nice flavour. The soup base is delicious and quite nutty. Of note, there is no seaweed in this ramen like in the other two. The portion size is very very generous. However, it costs 1 dollar more to eat it for dinner than for lunch ($11.60 for dinner and $10.60 at lunch).
Next up: Shibuya Izakaya. This is their Tonkatsu Ramen. The noodles were a bit on the chewy glutten-y side. The thin strip of pork was small (like at Shikiji) but was particularly foamy/spongy in the bad way (not in the good way like in Puritan canned soup). The soup base was the best of the 3 venues I tried. Very savoury and filled with lots of umami goodness. The portion size isn’t quite as large as at Shikiji but it is cheaper at $9.98 and the price doesn’t vary during the day.
Last up: Wa’s. This is their Shoyu ramen (I forgot the name). The noodles were very well made and extremely bouncy. There was no pork included in this item but instead some bamboo shoots. There was too much ginger for my liking, The soup base was not as savoury as at Shibuya and not as nutty as at Shikiji but quite tasty as well. The portion size was on the small side but it was a very good value for $7.50.
Noodles: Wa’s. Very bouncy and springy.
Pork: Shikiji used to have 2 larger pieces of pork but now only offer one. Despite this, the pork they offer is still very fatty and delicious. Shibuya Izakaya was disappointing in this regard.
Soup base: Shibuya Izakaya was very impressive in this respect. It was a tight race but Shibuya delivered a very refreshing, clear, and satisfying soup.
Value: Shikiji is the clear winner, especially if you go at lunch time.
Overall: Shikiji is the place I’ll come to for ramen again and again. Sadly, their other food is not quite as well made. Thought I wasn’t as happy about the ramen at Shibuya Izakayaa, it is a great place for late night Japanese. Wa’s ramen was respectable and a good value if you like smaller portions. They also serve fantastic traditional sushi and have a great lunch set menu.
Shikiji, 1608 Centre St. NE, (403) 520-0093, http://www.shikiji.ca/
Shibuya Izakaya, 453 – 16th Ave NE, (403)277-8823, no website.