Generally speaking, if Suresh Doss recommends a restaurant, I immediately add it to my list of places to check out. The man has an almost supernatural gift for sniffing out unsung gems, and his recommendations are always stellar.
But I was particularly excited after reading his write-up on Nobuya, in which he raves about the ramen and calls the karaage “some of the best fried chicken you’ll ever have.”
Nobuya is an interesting place. The restaurant is decked out in sports paraphernalia, and is entirely a one-man show. It’s staffed entirely by the owner, who shuttles back and forth between the small dining room and the kitchen. As you might expect, the service is leisurely, but very friendly.
I started, of course, with the karaage, which was a bit of a let-down. It’s well seasoned, with a nice light crispiness on its exterior. But the best versions of karaage are made with juicy dark meat; this was made with dried-out white meat. It certainly wasn’t bad, but the dryness was a bummer.
But of course, the ramen is what you’re there for. They have a few varieties on offer, but the owner identified the Tokyo ramen as his favourite, so that’s what I ordered.
Tokyo-style ramen is very, very different than the rich, hearty tonkotsu ramen that’s so omnipresent in the city; it has a much lighter consistency and a delicate flavour which makes it a very refreshing change of pace.
It’s also seriously delicious, with a complex meatiness, a very mild fishy funk, and a subtle sweetness to round things out. It pulls off that delightful magic trick you’ll find in the best bowls of ramen, where every spoonful seems to bring something new to the table.
The many toppings — things like garlic, green onion, and pickled ginger — only amp up the already delightful flavour. It’s fantastic.
But then there’s the noodles. I’m assuming this was a one-time mistake (the bowl was too delicious for it to be anything but an unfortunate glitch), but the noodles in my and my dining companion’s bowl were overcooked to the point of mushiness. Given how good the rest of the bowl was, this was particularly unfortunate. But I guess if you’re one guy running an entire restaurant on your own, little slip-ups are bound to happen.
The chashu wasn’t great either, with a slightly tough texture and a gamy flavour. But again, that soup was so damn good that it really didn’t matter.