Ginza - Ramen Sushi Sake Bar (Elgin)
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Koichi Ramen (Somerset)
Ginza - Ramen sushi and Sake bar located at 280 Elgin St is Ottawa's first restaurant to serve authentic Hakata syle Tonkotsu Ramen.
Foods from Ginza - Ramen Sushi Sake Bar
2018 Jan 21
Had the Shoyu ramen here tonight - rich and warming. My daughter loves the veggie California rolls and gyoza. This has become my go to spot for asian comfort food.
2014 Oct 2
I went on Monday evening, just after work - fairly empty at 5:20pm, prompt service, and it started to fill up as soon as 6pm chimed in. I was amused that the TVs were put on the Food Network while being served food, but it was more than tasty enough that it could not invite unfavourable comparison.
It's located where the old Green Tea Sushi was, on the east part of Elgin just south of Somerset, about across from the Fox and Feather. Small, but it still seats plenty since it's not quite a type of food where you linger for an hour or two.
I started with the gyoza, 6 dumplings for $7. They were a little different than I expected, both photos below do show them well: nice and crispy on the bottom, a bit more doughy for the rest than I'm used to - but still tasty. Not a big zing, but definitely not devoid of flavour either!
Ramen: I had the Tonkotsu (pork-broth) ramen Shoyu (soya sauce). The website menu says shiitake mushrooms; I seem to recall the on-site menu says portobello - but I may be wrong. The presentation was not exactly as gorgeous as a few photos here (the nori was a bit crumpled, the pork belly mostly sumerged) but it did not matter. I took a sniff, I took a sip - and I was very, very, very happy. Wow, what a completely different experience! I had never had ramen like this, and therefore have no baseline experience to compare to, but Delicious is Delicious anywhere. Nummy nom, lots of umami, complex broth flavours, the fatty pork was easily breakable by teeth, filled me up quite nicely. For $12, this is as filling (and about as big) as a small pho bowl, but obviously the ingredients are more numerous and onerous, but it's still a very good price, especially considering the prime location.
Will be back, the other flavours are calling to me.
The saké bar portion will be discussed separately - since it was another resaon I visited the place...
2014 Aug 22
Very solid spot for Ramen, as FF mentioned, noodles at Sidedoor are very good but at Ginza, the Tonkotsu Ramen Spicy broth was right on along with the pork belly...the vegetarian option however was a let down as the broth tasted burnt. Dumplings were very good too. Not sure how the ice cream is called but it was the first time I had ice cream in this form and texture...it was ok.
2014 Jul 2
I don't know why ramen has been so slow to catch on in Ottawa, so I was quite eager to try Ginza Ramen. I ordered the chicken gyoza and the tonkotsu ramen spicy.
The gyoza were incredibly tasty and among the best I have tried in Ottawa. The sever asked whether I wanted my tonkotsu ramen to be full on spicy or moderately spicy. Even though I always choose full on spicy, I always appreciate it when asked because not everyone wants to punish themselves to the same extent. The broth had a nice depth to it and the spice did not dominate (at least for me). The noodles were properly textured and the egg was just soft enough to be able to mix with the broth. My only complaint was the pork belly. Instead of being charred and smokey it was rubbery and undercooked - I shouldn't have been able to taste the raw fattiness of it.
I'm going to attribute the poor pork belly to bad luck and overlook it because the broth and gyoza really won me over. Hopefully next time I'll be slurping my way through a perfect bowl of ramen.
2014 May 2
I eagerly accepted
's kind invitation to try the food at Ginza (see
Forum - New Openings 2014
). He started me off with
Chicken Wing Yakitori
. The gyoza were appropriately tender on the steamed sides and nicely crunchy on the pot-stuck side. The yakitori wings were positively loaded with meat and served with a heady wasabi mayo.
I'll gush about the ramen in a separate comment under that food item.
The other dishes I saw coming out of the kitchen were impressive. Sushi was beautifully presented and generous on fish. The noodle bowls and soups looked promising.
explained that his pho broths are toned down a little compared to those found in Chinatown in order to appeal to a wider spectrum of the Elgin palate.
I sat at the bar next to the cash and heard customer after customer rave about the quality of the food, saying how happy they are to finally have great Asian food on Elgin. Combine good food with a fun selection of cocktails, sake, a couple of beers on tap, late hours on weekends, and you have a force to be reckoned with. Also, I was excited to hear they plan to serve crispy chicken skin as a bar snack in the future.
A second Ginza location will be opening in the next month or so, in Chinatown where
Three Kings Restaurant
used to be.
2018 Jan 22
This ramen to me tastes like instant ramen you get in from the packets , where it's but it could be better. the noodles are not my favorite and the brother is almost bland. i had the spicy blend and the takoyaki. very interesting flavour. sansotei is still reign supreme in ottawa. buttery yet happy. i really hoped the food would be as delicious as the places in toronto.
2014 May 2
One of the well known secrets about Ottawa is that it adopts trends a year or two after larger cities, making it easy for business owners to predict future demand here. The ramen trend is a significant one and Ginza is bringing a high quality version to Ottawa thanks to Koichi Paxton (
), whose name has come up a few times on this site. I tried his
tonkotsu ramen miso
and I was really impressed.
The rich, savoury broth is cooked slowly from pork bones. The marinated pork belly is done in-house and charred before serving, giving it a wonderful smokey taste. The egg is perfectly semi-soft boiled and marinated in soy sauce. The thin fresh noodles have a good bite to them, and the veg ingredients are all spot on in texture, taste, and portion. Currently there is only one noodle available, but they plan to offer three choices in the future: thin (the current one), thick (presumably udon style), and house made (yay!).
Offering house made noodles would cement Ginza as the go-to place for ramen in Ottawa, as the noodles are the only component where I might give the edge to the ramen offered at
. But I'm a broth guy and Ginza's broth is way ahead.
It is a great time to live in Ottawa.
2014 Oct 2
Since it bills itself as a saké bar, I had to check it out, since I know a few things about the drink by now. Being on Elgin and a small space, I was not expecting too much, and so was not disappointed - and after consideration, quite satisfied.
The selection will likely vary with availability (either LCBO or private import), but all current bottles are on display at the bar counter. (They are full, not empty, bottles, meaning they will spoil, which is a shame.) The price for each bottle should be marked on the bottle itself, often at the back near the top of the neck.
When I went at the end of September, there were nine bottles total: seven of 300ml and two of 750ml. I was impressed at the variety, far wider than I've seen at most places in town serving saké:
- one sparkling (Zipang from Gekkeikan)
- two nigoris, unfiltered (Hakutsuru, Momokawa 750ml)
- two junmais, no brewer’s alcohol added (Gekkeikan Black and Gold, Haiku 750ml)
- two ginjos, rice milled between 40-50% away (Hakutsuru junmai ginjo, Masumi Tokusen)
- two daiginjos, rice milled 50% or more away (Hakutsuru junmai daiginjo, Murai Family)
Usually, I've found restaurants with three types, and one of them will be low-grade “draft” or regular saké without anything special to it (low milling done, added brewer’s alcohol, fully filtered, etc). Here, care was definitely taken for a representative sampling of better types of saké. Prices are reasonable for markup, from $14 to $40 (and the large bottles aren’t necessarily in the highest price range).
Several of those are made in the US (Hakutsuru nigori, all Gekkeikan, Momokawa) but other than the cheap large boxes of warm sakés, it is no longer a mark of cheap plonk or devoid of flavour. One of the key points to check for more carefully-brewed sakés such as the ginjos and daiginjos is freshness; many, but sadly not nearly all or even most, bottles will carry a bottling month and year, and anything past 18 months is taking a chance – if it’s been left at room temperature, its flavour profile is likely altered by then. I admit I did not check for dates, but they are very likely restricted by what the LCBO carries.
I had tasted nearly all of these already (the Murai Family is expensive but definitely top-notch), so decided to try the Masumi Tokusen. The bottle was already cold, so it was stored properly, excellent point for the owners. While I’m not a big fan of the added alcohol (non-junmai), I found it more than fine with the bowl of ramen I was slurping happily, and by the halfway point it developed a few very nice flavours on the tongue.
I can definitely recommend any of the selection available here for neophytes, with the usual caveats: sparkling is not for everyone (normal saké has no CO2 added), unfiltered nigoris can be really weird on the tongue, and the extra price point of the Murai is not in everyone’s budget; but it still leaves plenty to check out, especially for two (300ml) or three-four (750ml) people sharing, which can bring the price per person down nicely.
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