Covid-19 suck for many different reasons.

And here’s a big one (on top of people dying, growing unemployment rate, suffering economy, and increased poverty): no travelling.

We’ve been stuck within the Malaysian borders for more than a year.

Which is not the worse thing. It’s still considerably safe in here. At least we unanimously agree that mask is good, unlike, say, the U.S.?

Nonetheless, one can’t help but miss the outside world.

For one, Japan is typically beautiful this time of the year.

So, choked with penned-up wanderlust, Broady and I decided to visit Japan…

In 163 Retail Park, Mont Kiara, Malaysia.

In the form of a ramen shop named Kanbe.


You know how lines in Japanese cities are often very long?

Well, we had to wait 1 hour for a seat at Kanbe. While wearing masks, which was a thing in Japan even before the pandemic.

So all in all, it was a holistic Japanese experience.

This is not the start of the line. You can’t see the end of it either.

I saw complaints on Kanbe’s Facebook page about inefficient table management. Her experience is her own and I respect that.

However, I, personally, am pleasantly impressed with their system.

First, we waited in a clearly defined line; each party was handed a menu to browse during the wait. Next, following the instructions of the hostess, we crossed the bridge (see pic above) and over to the final waiting line.

We were told to check in on MySejahtera and take our temperature (I know this is basic, but it’s the attention to it that matters) and were handed our order sheets.

We weren’t just handed the order sheets. We were also given instructions on how to use the order sheets.

I know, I know, big deal, but it’s the idiot-proof-ness of this that makes it a an efficient system.

Following that, we were led to the waiting area inside the restaurant, and finally, to our seats.

Front row seats to the Ramen chefs flaunting their art.

Maybe the karma I have accumulated is not all bad, because we were given front row seats where we could watch the chefs at work.

The chef (the one in the cap in the picture above) was impressively meticulous. After every few bowls, he cleaned the area, keeping his work counter sparkling clean.

After putting the soup and noodles in each bowl, he would swirl the noodles, bowl by bowl. Afterward, he neatly plated the dish with toppings of pork slices and negi (spring onion).

We ordered one Shiro-based tonkotsu ramen and one Sakura-based tonkotsu ramen.

Courtesy of Eat Drink KL:

The highlight for most customers will be the 48-hour-simmered tonkotsu broth, which comes in seven varieties – Shiro (the purest of them all), Aka (blended with doubanjiang fermented chilli bean paste with a slightly spicy tang), Koro (blackened with squid ink, made mildly aromatic with charred garlic), Kohaku (with a briny stock of dried sardines, bonito and mackerel), Goma (nutty-earthy with sesame), Yuzu (brightened with citrus) and our favourite, the Sakura (shrimp-sweet with whole ebi prawn stock).

Order sheet – Shiro-based tonkotsu ramen
Shiro-based tonkotsu ramen

The recommended spiciness level is 1 (mild), but I am happy to report that level 2 was fine for me—despite the fact that I am that one Malaysian who can not take spicy food.

Order sheet – Sakura-based tonkotsu ramen
Sakura-based tonkotsu ramen

Excitingly, the ramen miraculously materialised in front of us. Okay, not really. The wait staff placed two bowls of piping hot ramen in front of us.

Ahh!!!

Hesitant yet eager, I scooped a spoonful of broth and held it to my trembling lips.

This better be good, I thought. I waited one hour for this. I mean, I did spend that hour reading about monasticism, so I didn’t actually feel that hour, but it was the subconscious anticipation that’s gotten me all hyped up.

Slurp!

And it did not disappoint.

Each mouthful held sweet memories of yesterday and beautiful promises of tomorrow, all wrapped into one. The thick and rich flavours partied in my mouth like drunk teenagers.

Mama’s home.

However, I had one grievance.

The chasu pork was tender and pleasing in texture, but with room for improvement in the taste department. It was slightly tasteless.

It was too thick, for one. I imagine that a thinner slice would pack more flavour. I eventually dipped the pork in the chilli provided by the side, and it was good.

Nonetheless, it shouldn’t be that way. The chasu should be able to please on its own.

Free Oolong tea – to add to the authentic Japanese experience. Real Japanese eateries offer free drinks, unlike majority of the Japanese restaurants in Malaysia. Like, seriously, RM2 for a cup of green tea? Then you call yourself ‘authentic Japanese food’?

All things considered, I’ll rate Kanbe’s ramen a 7.5 out of 10. It could’ve been higher, if not because of the chasu. The broth though—heavenly.

We finished the noodles and lapped the soup dry.

Then we asked for refills on our free Oolong tea.

Finally, we paid a bill of RM62, then left the shop with that slice of Japan in our stomachs.