CLAM & BONITO Kaibushimen RAIK (CLAM&BONITO 貝節麺RAIK); The Shellfish Ramen, Hounancho
The second location of the famous RAIK ramen restaurant, CLAM & BONITO is their take on a shellfish broth. Many have tried, but few have succeeded in creating a great bowl of ramen using a shellfish broth, but RAIK has definitely done so at this second shop.
As the name would reflect, the broth has a robust seafood flavor from their use of clam and bonito. Simmering at a low heat, the broth draws both the savory, saltiness of the bonito and clams while also pulling the sweetness of the clams to create a light, but delectable soup. The soup is translucent and a bit milky and has the intense clam flavor you might taste when having a bowl of clam chowder. The soup will mellow out however as you enjoy its combination with the noodles, roast pork, a clam puree, onions, onions, and seaweed.
My favorite part about this bowl is their dedication to the shellfish broth. Neither the tare (seasoning oil) or the toppings overpower the lightness of the soup. Instead of a fatty pork for the char siu, they use quite a meaty loin. The seaweed is served raw, and not roasted as not to give off the strong aroma. The clam puree helps intensify the clam flavor of the broth. The onions serve to add a more in depth texture, rather than change the flavor profile of the bowl. The noodles are squared off instead of round and allows you to grab more of the soup with every bite. The careful consideration to ensure that the gentle clam broth is not interfered with made each spoonful a memorable one.
Be sure to also order their shellfish rice bowl and save some soup for later. The rice bowl, topped with seaweed and clam, is plenty good on its own, but is even better when enjoyed as a Japanese style “ochazuke” porridge. The light and delectable soup pairs perfectly with the rice bowl and is definitely a side dish you can’t leave without trying.
While there are plenty of imitators, trying out “alternative” soup bases with seafood, CLAM&BONITO has definitely succeeded in making this broth work as a ramen. Relatively new and under the radar, the lines aren’t incredibly long, but be sure to check them out soon. I can’t promise they remain unknown forever.