Restaurant review: Ramen Jo
3 Caroline Hill Road, Causeway Bay
Tel: 2885 0638
Open: noon-3pm, 6pm-10.30pm
Price: about HK$100 without drinks. There's no service charge.
Ambience: all seating is on backless stools at a U-shaped counter around the open kitchen.
Pros: service is prompt and friendly. As at many ramen shops, the menu is limited to noodles with a choice of broths, with gyoza as the only non-ramen offering.
Cons: seats are very close together and on our visit, we overheard the staff talking about a larger customer, saying they would need to seat him and his two friends in an area that normally accommodated four. The gyoza (HK$15 for three at lunch) were unmemorable.
Recommended dishes: although all the broths were tonkotsu (pork bone) based, they tasted distinctly different because of the additions. Our favourite was the miso ramen (HK$78), which was deep and complex from two types of the fermented soya bean paste in the broth. The special of fish soy sauce ramen (HK$78) came with a pile of dried bonito powder, which we were instructed to mix into the tonkotsu broth. Although it seemed like a large amount of fish powder, it didn't overwhelm the rich, porky broth. Spicy ramen (HK$78) was served with thinner noodles (you can specify thick or thin) that - surprisingly - stayed firm in the hot (in both temperature and spice level), balanced broth. The egg (HK$15) served on the side was perfectly cooked, with a firm white but very runny yolk. All bowls of ramen came with tender char siu, which had a perfect balance of fat to meat, as well as pickled bamboo shoots and minced spring onions.
What else? To order, you tick what you want from a menu, with options including how firm you want the noodles, and if you want additions such as garlic, butter, corn and black fungus. The restaurant doesn't do takeaway.