EAT­ING OUT AND DRINK

Su­per noo­dles from the land of the ris­ing sun. Warn­ing: it could get messy

The Herald Magazine - - CONTENTS - RAMEN DAYO If you know a restau­rant Ron should re­view, email ron­mackenna@fast­mail.fm

MAYBE not the most likely choice for a Mother’s Day meal, es­pe­cially af­ter that awk­ward mo­ment or 10 when we wan­der con­fus­edly up and down Glas­gow’s Queen Street. Me with a map and com­pass – OK, a Google map – at the head of my muti­nous fam­ily.

Think­ing to my­self, uh-oh, it’s bloody moved again, and I didn’t even book, and it’s Mother’s Day.

Then re­al­is­ing we are ac­tu­ally stand­ing right out­side it. Hur­rah. And we merely have to ne­go­ti­ate this grungy-cool pub en­trance into a deep, dark, kind of home­spun base­ment. There’s pa­per lanterns, a gi­ant screen pro­ject­ing a Ja­panese an­i­ma­tion, some wob­bly ta­bles, no cud­dly toy but an aw­ful lot of peo­ple all eat­ing … while si­mul­ta­ne­ously look­ing at their mo­bile phones.

Af­ter all this – and af­ter or­der­ing a drink called Poke­mon Sweat or some­thing like that, and an­other Ja­panese drink in one of those old-school bot­tles where the lid is a mar­ble you pop back into a glass chan­nel, which amuses the boys no end – the food ar­rives.

For­tu­nately Mrs Mackenna, who rolled her eyes at the thought of ramen for Mother’s Day tea, is fond of gy­oza. The dumplings ar­rive seared to bub­bling on one side and rammed with juicy pock­ets of pork, chicken and veg­eta­bles.

By now we’ve got the vibe, too, which is young, cool and just a lit­tle bit out there, man. The staff are re­laxed and friendly, and all around us we are lulled by the gen­tle sounds of slop­ping and slurp­ing as our fel­low din­ers dip their glis­ten­ing coupons ever deeper into bowls of ramen.

This, if you don’t al­ready know, is one of Ja­pan’s most pop­u­lar dishes. But if you, like oth­ers, roll your eyes at the thought of yet an­other bowl of gloopy gruel with a few chopped spring onions sprin­kled atop, then you, like oth­ers, are about to get a sur­prise.

For a start, those wafer-thin slices of chashu pork belly that float serenely near the sur­face of our ramen bowls? Crikey. Creamy, sweet, salty, melt­ing.

As I am Daddy Bear, I au­to­mat­i­cally or­der the most ex­pen­sive thing on the menu: the Deluxe Dayo! This not only comes with its own ex­cla­ma­tion mark but also con­tains dou­ble every­thing, in­clud­ing two aji­tama, or flavoured soft-boiled eggs. These are so star­tlingly good that ev­ery­one else at the ta­ble im­me­di­ately looks into their bowls to find their own. Alas, they don’t have any.

Un­less you are fly­ing Deluxe Dayo! tonight a sin­gle aji­tama weighs in at a sur­pris­ingly salty £2 ex­tra.

Now be­fore we dis­ap­pear down the culi­nary rab­bit hole that is the menu de­scrip­tion at Ramen Dayo, No1 son has news that the movie a large num­ber of tonight’s din­ers are ac­tu­ally watch­ing is Spir­ited Away. In a minute the lit­tle girl’s par­ents are about to turn into pigs. Oh-kay.

As for our food, the whole Ramen Dayo con­cept can pos­si­bly be boiled down to this: stock from roasted pork and chicken bones is sim­mered for 20 hours. Hur­rah!

To this is added mar­i­nated kikurage mush­rooms, chashu pork belly, spring onions and ramen, be­com­ing tonkotsu. Add miso base? It be­comes tonkotsu miso. Hur­rah! Add mayu (black gar­lic oil) and crisp gar­lic? Tonkutso Miso Black. Dou­ble every­thing plus an egg? Deluxe Dayo!

Fresh chop­sticks, please, plas­tic la­dles all round, be­gin slurp­ing. And slurp away we do un­til even­tu­ally be­com­ing slightly weary of the whole process. Frankly, some peo­ple can get a bit car­ried away about tonkotsu

broths, be­com­ing all rev­er­en­tial about the rich, creamy and highly flavoured liq­uid pro­duced by the boiled bones. The broth here at Ramen Dayo is no doubt prop­erly made and rea­son­ably flavoured, but we’re not blown away by it.

We are, how­ever, en­joy­ing the fresh­ness of the whole con­cept and the pop-up buzz of the cur­rent set­ting (ap­par­ently they’re mov­ing else­where in the city cen­tre shortly as well as open­ing in the west end). And that’s more than enough for a fun night out.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: JAMIE SIMP­SON

Din­ers at Ramen Dayo can watch Ja­panese an­i­ma­tions play out on a screen while slurp­ing their way through tonkotsu or chow­ing down on gy­oza

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