A steaming hot bowl of noodles is one of Asian people’s favourite comfort foods, whether it’s instant noodles or premium ramen. There’s something so satisfying about chomping down a bowl of noodles and slurping the broth. There are so many ingredients that can be added to a bowl of noodles. Have you noticed how many new ramen restaurants there are in town recently? I wasn’t a big fan of ramen but my latest sojourn to Bari-uma at Jaya Shopping Centre may just have added ramen to my list of must-have foods.
Bari-uma has its roots in Hiroshima, Japan and currently, there are 40 outlets in Japan, 10 operated by the principal and the other 30 as franchises. There are 2 outlets in Singapore’s Tanglin Store and United Square Mall with plans of launching 30 international outlets in 5 years.
I find the menu a Bari-uma easy to navigate but that doesn’t mean they lack choices. You can have your ramen firm (more al dente), in original form (recommended) or soft (if you dislike chewing or are wearing dentures) and choose to have your bowl of ramen with everything in it including egg and dried seaweed or without egg and dried seaweed. Variations include with egg but without dried seaweed or with dried seaweed but without egg. There’s also a spicy soup base and a shoyu soup base but all are pork flavoured with a generous serving of their thic-cut three-layered pork “chashu”.
Most customers opt for the signature ramen Bari-uma as it has the works. The soup base isn’t as thick as what you might find at other ramen restaurants but that doesn’t mean it isn’t concentrated or rich. The thick slice of “chashu” on the surface of the broth imparts more fragrance and you can sense that it is going to be tasty even before the 1st spoonful enters your mouth. The seaweed pieces are generous and the egg is served whole with the yolk slightly runny, all adding to the sensory delight of the ramen. The ramen in original form has the right texture, not too chewy nor too soft. The noodles are made at Bari-uma daily with an expensive machine which came all the way from Hiroshima and it’s no wonder they sell between 60-80 bowls of ramen daily. That’s pretty good considering Bari-uma just opened for business in June.
There are several variations of Gyoza at Bari-uma. I love gyoza but haven’t found many places that don’t serve oily gyoza. The ones here are extremely moist, not oily, have the right balance of flavours and the fillings are delicious. The teriyaki gyozas are my favourites but if you like them slightly spicy with mayo, try the Negi-mayo Gyoza with some chilli flakes and drizzle of mayo on top. They also serve plain Gyoza if you just like dipping them in shoyu.
Now here’s a salad with a difference. Some of us may shy away from salads because aren’t they all about vegetables? This Bari-uma salad will appeal to the carnivore in some of us as it has shredded “chashu” on top which really adds to the intensity of flavours. There’s egg slices with a slightly runny yolk, crunchy lettuce leaves, lots of corn but this would have been an ordinary average salad if not for the yummy “chashu”.
The chaofan or fried rice comes in very hot stone bowls and for the amount that you get, I think the prices are very reasonable. In fact, you’d find food court Japanese eateries with the same prices, if not more. We had the salmon chaofan and the salmon tasted fresh, not the frozen kind. I wouldn’t mind having this if I was in a hurry during lunch time and didn’t have time to savour a bowl of ramen.
The last time I was in a Japanese restaurant that served yakitori left me feeling more than a little disappointed as the yakitori was unmemorable save for the fact that they were nothing special. Bari-uma serves chicken and pork yakitori but if you want a combination of both, order the Yaki-tori Combo which has 5 sticks of:-
1. Negima – chicken thigh and leeks
2. Butanegima – pork thigh and leeks
3. Tori-niku – chicken thigh
4. Sasami – chicken breast
5. Butabara – pork belly
How do you tell the chicken from the pork? Well that is easy because chicken meat is lightly paler than pork. All very tender meat and well flavoured. This yakiniku is memorable for all the right reasons.
Some “chashu” can be very dry which is why I choose where I want to eat “chashu” very carefully. There’s nothing worse than paying a lot for “chashu” only to get meat that tastes like sandpaper. Well I am glad to say that the “chashu” at Bari-uma is perfectly grilled. Every piece is juicy and bound to satisfy the most discerning “chashu” palate. It has the right proportion of lean and fat meat. The flavor packs quite a punch, one of the best “chashu” I have had in a long time.
To round up such a delicious meal, desserts are a must. Choose between green tea and black sesame ice cream.
Prices of some items in the menu:-
Bari-uma Ramen RM26.00
Shoyu Ramen RM23.00
Kid’s Ramen RM15.00
Teri-yaki Gyoza RM12.00 (5 pcs) RM22.00 (10 pcs)
Negi-mayo Gyoza RM12.00 (5 pcs) RM22.00 (10 pcs)
Sui-Gyoza RM12.00 (5 pcs) RM22.00 (10 pcs)
Yakitori Combo RM13.90 (5 sticks)
Aburi Chashu RM18.80
Bari-uma Salad RM19.90
Chashu Chaofan RM14.90
Salmon Chaofan RM15.90
Shrimp Chaofan RM15.90
Bari-uma is a cozy restaurant where you can indulge in not just ramen. If you want something light for lunch, the chaofan or salads are good choices but I do recommend the ramen because although I haven’t been that passionate about ramen, I am being converted thanks to Bari-uma. I am sure it’ll be one of the more established ramen restaurants in town given more time and word of mouth. What makes a ramen outstanding? The soup base and the “chashu” – Bari-uma passes with flying colours in both respects.
Bari-uma Ramen is located at Lot L3-11, Level 3, Jaya Shopping Centre, Jalan Semangat, Section 14, 46100, Petaling Jaya.