When I first came to Korea, I tried the ubiquitous ramyeon (라면) by the end of my first week. Whether the noodles come out of a package or are purchased at a restaurant, ramyeon is one of the staple Korean ‘quick meals’. When I say that Ramen Beravo serves the best ramen in Pohang, however, Korean-style ramyeon shouldn’t even come to mind. This is real, Japanese-style ramen; handcrafted from scratch by tasty food maestro Sonny and his family (two brothers AND his wife, I believe!).
They opened Ramen Beravo in the spring of 2013. When I asked Sonny about his inspiration for starting the restaurant, he answered,
I dreamed (of doing this) for a lot of years, when I was in Japan. Just working here is a great pleasure for me.
As customers walk in, the carefree sound of quality jazz greets them–Sonny is an alum of Berklee College of Music in Massachusetts–as well as the saliva inducing aroma of soul-warming food. A small table and chairs occupy the corner, while an aesthetically pleasing wood bar on a brick support stretches the length of the cooking area. Sonny and Fam. are usually found behind the bar serving up their creations with practiced speed and efficiency. The cooking and prep area is stainless steel and looking towards the back wall reveals a pot and spoon big enough to cook a small human.
When I referred to Sonny as a maestro, I wasn’t using the term flippantly. As I watched him prepare the dishes his restaurant is known for, it is obvious he pays a special amount of attention to the the detail and quality of his creations.
For example, give the butashoyu (부타 쇼유 라면) a try; it’s the dish both Sonny and his wife Yuki recommend. They start with a chicken stock seasoned with salt and add an element of soy sauce to give the broth a unique taste. Not just any soy sauce, mind you, but a proprietary blend of soy sauce and mystery ingredients to tantalize the taste buds.
This time, I chose the butashoyu ramen. Starting with the previously mentioned yummy chicken broth, the cooks added a freshly cooked batch of noodles, a halved soft-boiled egg, a tender slice of pork, and some green onion garnish. The food came out warm and presented like a prized sculpture, I couldn’t help but sit and admire it for a few minutes before tucking in.
Like everything else I’ve eaten at Ramen Beravo, my meal was delicious. I polished it off quickly, noisily, and messily–feeling content when the last drop was gone. For those with a big appetite and a fondness for noodles, hold off drinking all the broth. It’s hardly any additional cost to get an extra helping of noodles added the leftovers.
The past few months have been chilly in Pohang and I have been haunting the stools at Ramen Beravo–letting steaming bowls of awesome warm my bones. The restaurant offers something else to ward off the winter chill in the form of a selection of Japanese sake and beer. Check and mate, winter.
Sonny recently went to Japan, where he further studied the art of ramen making. Since returning, he has begun expanding the existing menu–debuting ‘specials’ for limited windows of time. His latest creation, a ramen with thick broth derived from pork and chicken bones, was top-notch. Another new option is the miso ramen (미소 라면)–a tasty twist on the butashoyu variety. I’m still not sure which dish is my favorite, since they are all delicious.
There was something else Sonny learned in Japan. Where noodle etiquette in Korea involves a quiet and slurp-free enjoyment of the noodles, Japanese etiquette involves a certain degree of slurping. Contrary to what my mother might say, there is a purpose to it beyond grossing out your company. Much like proper wine tasting involves aspirating through the wine to unlock the full flavor, a proper noodle tasting involves air flow. It allows the aroma from the noodles to make its way to the nostrils, leading to a fuller appreciation of its nuances. Additionally, slurping makes it easier to better appreciate the texture–i.e. quality–of the noodles. Not slurping causes the eater to miss out on the full experience. As Sonny puts it:
I believe there is a proper way to eat every food.
In this case, that means slurping… sorry, Mom!
Ramen Beravo is one of those places to enjoy a delicious meal, relax in a friendly environment, and leave without feeling a noticeable difference wallet weight. It’s foreigner friendly and, for the health conscious folks out there, uses all natural ingredients–i.e. no chemicals. So stop on by, slurp up some noodles, and don’t forget to ask the staff about the story behind the restaurant’s name.
What’s your favorite style of ramen? Where have you found the best ramen? Tell me in the comments below!