Kiwado Japanese Cuisine brings tonkotsu ramen, alongside an expansive Japanese menu, to central Edmonton.
For a long time, heading north on 101 Street provided familiar sights. Long gone is the old Sapporo Sushi sign, the large all you can eat advertisement now replaced with Kiwado Japanese Cuisine’s banner. I honestly didn’t think twice about it, assuming that the space was being rebranded but under the same ownership back in April. It wasn’t until a Reddit forum caught my eye, the title proclaiming Kiwado as a new ramen recommendation in Edmonton. A hidden gem? That’s news to me.
Kiwado Japanese Cuisine had indeed taken over the old Sapporo Sushi space, the entrance facing towards the back alley and invisible from the main roads. At least there’s ample parking south of the building, adjacent to the Humpty’s. The basement space is dated but the decor and wallpaper livens it up quite a bit. A private dining room makes for a great special occasion dinner and large booths provide spots for team lunches.
KIWADO JAPANESE OFFERS TASTE TO THE SOUL.
The menu is surprisingly large. Appetizers include favourites like tempura, tataki, and gyoza, but expands also into chicken karaage and tonkatsu. Sashimi and rice bowls, including katsu curry, are lumped together on a page, followed by sushi rolls, temaki (hand cones), and nigiri. If you like a little bit of everything, bento boxes are also available. For both my visits, I focused on the ramen page.
Kiwado guarantees that their ramen broth is cooked for more than 10 hours before serving, a tonkotsu based menu. Eight bowls are featured, seven if you’re excluding the soupless tsukemen. Vegetarians will be happy to know that there’s a bowl for them too.
On my first visit, I was tempted to get the Ta Lo Men (Kiwado Special), the only bowl on the menu with a blend of tonkotsu and fish soup base, something comparable to a gyokai. It’s my favourite style of broth, reminiscent of the bowls of Tokyo. I need that fish funk. The broth is milky and well-seasoned. It’s not quite as “fishy” as I’d had hoped but it was sufficient enough. Noodles are not made in-house or locally, have a decent chew, albeit a slippery texture. The Japanese style braised pork belly, or kakuni, should be a premium topping but fell short for me, the pieces dry and difficult to eat. I was also overwhelmed in toppings: beansprouts, marinated egg, bamboo shoots, corn, fungus, scallions, naruto, and nori. I’m a firm believer in the less is more approach, but to each their own.
My second visit was on a blistering cold day and I had a strong hankering for soup. The tsukemen would have to wait for another day. The Shio tonkotsu, though milky, was not as thick as our first visit. The chashu faired a lot better than the kakuni and overall, it hit the spot.
Mixed reviews told me that Kiwado had been inconsistent, ranging from a heavily seasoned broth to bland and watered down. Both of my visits were well-seasoned although repeated visits could prove otherwise. You can make any ramen bowl spicy for an extra dollar. Joe’s Spicy Tonkotsu bowls did indeed have heat, although I found it to be heavily verging on Chinese-style soup after a few spoonfuls.
KEY FEATURE: THE SIDE ORDERS TO YOUR RAMEN.
One of my favourite features of the ramen menu is the addition of side orders for low price. It’s always nice to nibble on something before or during your bowl of ramen! For $4, a half order of Chicken Karaage was satisfying, moreso than the half order of pork Gyoza. For the same price, Assorted Tempura was underwhelming.
I’m happy that central Edmonton is no longer void of ramen options, others include: Nomiya’s Noodle Bar, Tokiwa, Prairie Noodle, and Japonais Bistro. I’m already looking forward to my next trip to try Kiwado’s tsukemen and I can’t wait to tack on a Tonkatsu for $6. Overall, I’m moderately impressed that a ramen shop of this quality is so close to the core. Although it’s still not my favourite in the city (as of writing, I’m a fan of Nudoru and St. Albert’s Menya Yuzen), it’s a decent option if you’re in the Kingsway area.
Hidden for sure. Gem? That’s for you to decide! Give Kiwado a try and let me know what you think! Is it the best ramen in Edmonton?Kiwado
10923 101 Street NW