Edmonton can officially welcome a new ramen bar to its food scene, Nudoru Japanese Noodle + Tapas opening this past weekend. I’ve been keeping a watchful eye on the Whyte Avenue space ever since I heard through the grapevine of a new ramen bar. Not only were both eyes on the space, I darn near went crazy after I heard a rumour that Nudoru was importing in a noodle machine from Taiwan. Made in-house noodles? Unheard of in Edmonton!
— Linda Hoang (@lindork) April 10, 2016
A failed attempt to scope out their soft opening dates and a failed passing on Saturday’s lunch hour made me almost want to cry. But alas, I’m not the only ramen lover out in Edmonton and thank goodness for food friends for finally giving me the hours of operation! In a day and age where social media and marketing rules all, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any presence of Nudoru on the internet. Maybe that will change, maybe not. Very old school Asian of them!
A photo posted by Pete Nguyen (@pete.nguyen) on
The space is simple, keeping with a very traditional Japanese feel: exposed ceilings, concrete walls with wooden structures to create intimate booths and add some warmth back into the space. The best part about the design is actually behind the hostess’ table: a large 22-feet mural featuring the pen strokes of Pete Nguyen, Art Director of Avenue Edmonton. It’s pretty damn impressive and my quick photograph does not do it justice, so check out the behind-the-scenes work on his Instagram. A sword-wielding samurai (sporting Nike kicks no less) riding on a noodle dragon and slashing oozy marinated eggs — I mean come on, it doesn’t get any cooler than that. Seriously.
The menu is extensive for a ramen bar, anything with more than three varieties considered a feat for me. On top of four varieties (all the bowls on the main menu are tonkotsu-based), diners can also make their own bowl for $13. The build-your-own bowl menu isn’t tonkotsu-based but instead uses a lighter broth with your taré of choosing (shio, shoyu, miso, and spicy miso). Choose up to three toppings (wow, think of three eggs!) and add in some extra protein for $3 if you’re feeling extra hungry and you’ve got yourself a pretty sizeable bowl! Interesting to see both the traditional pork belly and pork shoulder available but also a leaner protein, chicken!
In addition to the Japanese noodle soup bowls, you can also order some tapas to share. Joe and I weren’t particularly famished for our late Sunday lunch but whatthehey. I’m a food blogger. So I ordered the Nudoru Bunger, a Taiwanese steamed bao bun served burger-style with pork belly, pickled pears, grilled scallions and a sweet miso sauce. Something about the words “limited availability” will always make you want to order it right? Compared to some of the bao buns available in the city, this plate for two wasn’t particularly mind blowing. The dough is made in-house and done well, pillow-y and holds up to the toppings well. You know when you bite into white sandwich bread and it sticks to the roof of your mouth? That can happen here, which I’ve never had a problem before with other baos. Weird. Topping-wise, it’s a hefty portion of pork belly and the sweetness and crunch of the pickled pears provided a great contrast.
Joe ordered a Spicy Miso bowl and chose Pork Belly, Menma Bamboo Shoots, and Beansprouts as his three toppings. What came out was a massive bowl of meat (pork belly and pork shoulder), which I questioned as I was taking this photograph. Whoopsies, definitely not his bowl! Once notifying our server, Joe’s bowl quickly came out as a replacement. For those of you wondering what an extra portion of protein looks like, there you go!
Compared to whoever’s custom ramen bowl that was, Joe’s order looked less impressive but ended up being quite filling. You definitely get your money’s worth here at Nudoru Japanese Noodle + Tapas. The spicy miso was creamy, a light nutty flavour, and had good heat to it. The spice really reminded me of doubanjiang, a Sichuan spicy fermented bean sauce that has become one of my favourites to cook with at home. There’s this distinct, almost smoky flavour to it and seeing that it’s available on the menu as an additional item, I think it’s possible that’s what they use for their spicy miso taré! Joe’s broth was well seasoned and before you know it, Joe was done his bowl with not much left for me to taste!
I went with the main menu’s classic Tonkotsu bowl to give a different broth a whirl. My bowl came out nice and hot, and gorgeous to look at it. I’m a big fan of white bowls with bright colours! A great touch on the pickled onions, thinly sliced scallions, and oh lordy, that nice and perfect soft-boiled marinated egg.
Thank heavens, the egg is done right up my alley. Alongside came with wood ear mushrooms, a big slice of rolled pork belly, and some sliced pork shoulder. I’m always a fan of pork belly done this way, showing that the kitchen gave a bit of extra love to make an even distribution of fat and meat. Although cooked tender, I wished both cuts of meat had a stronger marinade to give my broth a much needed layer of seasoning. Without the overbearing amount of salt or MSG as some ramen shops do though, at least I could appreciate the pork flavour of the tonkotsu and its light-medium consistency. Not too creamy, not too thin. Boy, can ramen be done in a million ways! What’s impressive is the wavy noodles, confirmed to be made in-house by the aforementioned machine. You can tell they were rolled with a firmer pressure than normal, and precisely cut for a firmer texture. I thought the noodles were fantastic, although I can see some might disagree if they prefer a softer bite. For me, firmer noodles will mean a good bite all the way to the end of the bowl. No soggy noodles for Cindy! Overall, I enjoyed my meal and think Nudoru Japanese Noodle + Tapas has tremendous potential if they adjusted their seasoning for the tonkotsu broth. Perhaps a touch more salt to finish or even upping the natural umami flavours in their dashi and this bowl would be killer. I hear they use dried flounder fish! More more more! I’m an umami-addict and quite aware of it.
I’m a bit sad as I write this that they’re closed on Mondays. With dinner plans already in the works for the next couple of days, I have to wait until the end of the week for my next visit! I’m down for some more small plates like the Kurobuta Gyoza. On my travels to Japan, the Kurobuta pork breed was a big deal. Little did I know, it’s another name for the Berkshire pig! Super cool to see another ramen establishment supporting local! What else looks interesting… how about the Octopus Fritters or the Gobo Fries? Mmmm! I’m excited to try the other ramen bowls and to get creative and make my own! I’m hopeful that if these are the kind of bowls they serve right at opening, then Nudoru Japanese Noodle + Tapas can only improve from here so long as consistency is kept! It’s too early to rave but after Sunday’s meal, I’m left with a great impression, a full stomach, and the image of samarai Nike kicks. Edmonton’s got another contending ramen shop! Check out Nudoru and let me know what you think! Just do it. 😉Nudoru Japanese Noodles + Tapas
10532 82 Avenue