Originally reviewed on May 4, 2020
|한글 🇰🇷||ENGLISH 🇺🇸|
|사가라멘 가로수길점||Saga Ramen, Garosu-gil|
|Korean Won 🇰🇷||United States Dollar 🇺🇸|
Price is a rough average per head, excluding drinks.
Last order is taken about 45 minutes before closing.
The front of this joint is very Japanese in architecture; hard to miss.
Seoul Seek Recommendations
- 👑 Signature
- ✅ Counting Calories
- 🌶️ Spicy
|한글 🇰🇷||English 🇺🇸||Price 💵|
|돈코츠 스테미나라멘||Tonkotsu Stamina Ramen 👑||₩9,700|
|돈코츠 차슈라멘||Tonkotsu Char Siu Ramen||₩10,700|
|교자||Gyoza (Japanese Dumplings)||₩4,000|
You may order extra noodles or toppings for any ramen listed; they come at a price of ₩800-₩1,000 depending on what you select.
This is an authentic ramen spot with Japanese and Korean chefs. In reality, what makes a ramen authentic is up for debate and varies depending on which critic you ask. Having been to Japan several times, and tasted many bowls of ramen, this was spot on.
Unbeknownst to many, real Japanese ramen is extremely salty, based on the regional tare, or seasoning make-up of a ramen broth. In almost every case, it is the sole source of salt within the final product. Various recipes found online tend to curtail this fact, for dietary reasons.
Tonkotsu ramen is more focused on the soup itself, being a pork bone reduction, than the actual tare. The main event going on here is the physical pork bones simmering for many hours, not the small (usually a 1:10 or 1:12 ratio) of tare mixed into it. Tonkotsu shoyu ramen, a more soy sauce-based version, is very popular and gives more spotlight to the tare. The stamina types contained within this review used some plain Yamasa soy sauce to spice up the tare. There were three salt levels offered, and we chose the middle for both.
The ramen noodles are handmade daily with non-bleached flour and kansui, known as alkaline water. A quick inspection will indicate the noodles are also knife-cut; uneven and lumpy in places, the flaws add to their authenticity. That's what people always strive for, but seldom get in tourist-heavy spots like this. The tare here uses
The dumplings were frozen but very good. The croquette seemed to be purchased from a nearby Tous les Jours, but I'm not complaining.
It seems as though the real focus at this spot was making high quality ramen, while cutting corners on the other menu items. Despite this, it was still a very good quality meal, and savory. Very worth the cost.
The Side Dish
Singular, not plural. A sole small dish is put on the table by the wait staff, containing one of my favorite side dishes in Korea, and it's only usually found at Japanese spots; it's soy sauce-marinated ginger, which is cut more thick than you'd find in say a sushi bar or izakaya place.
This is because the purpose of this is to eat it alongside the main dishes, not to refresh or clean the palate, as is the case elsewhere. The sauce is unique but familiar; it's a mix of what seems to be a homemade teriyaki and some Yamasa soy sauce. I ask the wait staff, and they smile and say it's a secret.
You can buy this in bulk, or premade, but this was for sure made in-house. The taste was way more fresh, and the ginger had a crunch to it. When you buy this premade or jarred, the ginger doesn't have near the snap.
As you venture around Seoul, you'll notice that this is becoming more common in Korean establishments, seldom seen a few years prior. Is it just something which Korean cuisine has absorbed and put their own twist on? No one can say for sure.
You may get refills, but it's not self-serve. If you run out, request some more formally from the wait staff. They'll kindly oblige.
This is the part that gets posted on Instagram the most. You all know what I'm talking about.
This is the climax of eating a bowl of ramen if you're a photographer or someone who likes to snap pics of what you eat. It's not the assortment of beef brisket or pork belly, nor is it the noodles which are handmade, or the broth which mountains of effort go into.
It's usually an egg, marinated in a simple blend of onions and soy sauce, which is aged for a few days in a fridge, and cooked to be runny to perfection. Known formally as the ajitsuke tamago in Japanese, they strike the perfect distinction between a soft and hard boil. These were kept at room temperature, as the weather oustide was not too hot, and then added in at the last minute.
They have a history all their own, if you dig deep enough.
The Other Dishes
Almost forgot about the gyoza and croquette. Got lost in that egg.
Let's take a look at what the gyoza looks like here; there's really nothing close to the level of the ramen happening here. They're simply frozen dumplings and an (obviously) store-bought croquette.
It's clear that when you take a minute to check out the flavor profiles and effort put into the ramen here, there's something special. Although a chain, they serve high quality bowls of ramen for an affordable price. A lot less than what you could find on the same street, at better quality.
Perhaps it is due to the lapse in care for the other dishes they offer, but even then, it's negligible. Very rarely will you find a chain finding handmade dumplings and croquettes, let alone the ramen itself.
The chefs care, the people are happy, and this is a huge hit among those who know of this place.
If you do not like salt, this is not the place for you. The broths here are extremely salty and authentic, and utilize bonito as well; if you are looking for something more tame, seek elsewhere and look for a Korean soup spot, perhaps something like Gamjatang (pork back-bone stew) or the like.
Overall, satisfied with everything they had to offer here. The seats are uncomfortable, but this isn't a place you'd have a get-together at, so I digress.