EATING OUT AND DRINK
Super noodles from the land of the rising sun. Warning: it could get messy
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.
Diners at Ramen Dayo can watch Japanese animations play out on a screen while slurping their way through tonkotsu or chowing down on gyoza