Sanji Ramen – Taiwan – Really Good Ramen, Hold the Garlic

1 Jan

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It seems that a claim to having Taiwan’s #1 ramen might be doubted for a couple reasons. But Sanji Ramen turned out to be pretty great, even to a Tsujita-jaded fooddouche.

On the 5th floor of the curiously-named mall, ATT 4 Fun, located near Taipei 101 a short walk from the Taipei City Hall MRT station, Sanji Ramen dominates the lunch scene on a floor of Japanese, Korean, and Chinese restaurants. As you can see, it was busy on a weekday with workers from nearby offices, despite the fact that the mall itself was pretty deserted.
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Sanji offers regular ramen, as well as tsukemen – a kind of deconstructed ramen with a reduced dipping broth. Sanji’s version is really good. It’s also quite large, so order accordingly.
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Here’s a close-up of the broth, which is ramen broth reduced with dried bonito flakes and chunks of chashu. It’s really good, and unlike Tsujita, they serve it warm! The noodles are served al dente – <a href=”http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=2252″>a chewiness referred to as “Q”</a> – which is perfect.
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The tsukemen is served with chopped mushrooms, green onions, a few bamboo shoots, half a nicely boiled egg, and some beautiful charred chashu. The chashu is especially nice – its resemblance to bacon or pork belly is not accidental. All the elements combined into a bite with the noodles dipped in the broth was a great combination – porky, chewy, deeply umami.
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Here’s the ramen, which is almost all the same elements as the tsukemen except served combined and hot. Unfortunately, they didn’t leave it at that. We ordered the default regular ramen and did not have any indication that the broth would be a garlic bomb. It’s still good, but it’s hard to get past the fact that there is so much garlic that it almost overtakes the pork flavor.

I could see how some people would like the novelty of the garlic ramen, but I wanted to compare it to the ramens I’ve had in LA. Oh well.
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Here’s a close-up of the chashu and egg.
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The view from Sanji is a nice bonus. You can see Taipei 101 off to the left (not in this shot) and Taipei City Hall.
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I don’t usually like getting “foreign” food when I’m traveling overseas. I want to eat the cuisine of the place I’m visiting. We just happened to have a meal to kill while waiting for someone in the most commercial and mall-covered area of the country. I also didn’t realize that Din Tai Fung had a branch nearby in Taipei 101. Despite all that, I wouldn’t make it out of the question in the future to come back to Sanji if I wanted ramen in Taiwan.

Well, maybe I’d just go to Din Tai Fung again . . .
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