Ever since my first visit to Japan a couple of years back, I’ve been hooked on ramen. Coming from the west of Scotland, there wasn’t a whole lot of Japanese food around, so I’ve been making up for lost time ever since. Seoul can’t compete with Tokyo for quantity or quality, of course, but there are some decent ramen places around, and one of them is Ramen Truck.
[Note: No money, free food or other inducement was asked for or received in return for this post. Soju Sunrise accepts freebies only very occasionally and I will always explicitly state if this is the case.]
As its name suggests, Ramen Truck started out life serving up bowls of steaming noodles to late-night diners in Hongdae, but these days it operates as a hole-in-the-wall ramen stop near Sangsu station. It opens for lunch and dinner, but you need to get there quick, because like many Seoul ramen places, it’s both very small and very popular.
There’s seating for about ten people inside, and the menu is simplicity itself; ramen, and that’s it.
If you don’t read hangeul, the menu banners above offer, from left to right: ramen (7,000), extra char siu (1,000), extra egg (1,000), extra noodles (1,000) and beer for 3,000.
There’s little pots of kimchi on the table or at the counter to help yourself from.
I ordered a bowl of ramen with extra char siu and egg, and didn’t have long to wait. Within a minute or two, my bowl was placed in front of me.
Any ramen aficionado will tell you that the secret is in the broth, and the tonkotsu broth base here, while maybe not on a par with the best I’ve had, is fairly rich and flavourful. I like a very deep, oily broth, and Ramen Truck doesn’t quite deliver that – I wish they offered options for extra garlic, for example, as some other places do – but it’s a very acceptable soup even so.
The eggs are perfectly cooked, just set round the edges and oozing yolk when you penetrate them. If it was socially acceptable, I’d order two or three extra eggs and just suck the goodness out of them one by one.
The real star at Ramen Truck, though, is the char siu. As soon as I saw the ajumma blowtorching strips of pork – and with two blowtorches at once, no less – I knew I was in for a treat.
The char siu had a perfect char (see what I did there?) and just melts in your mouth. Exceptionally tasty, it was every bit as good as any pork I had in Japan, if not better.
I would literally come across the city just for this char siu. I want to find the family of pigs whose offspring died to supply my lunch, and adopt every one of them. (Before eating them, of course.)
My bowl was empty in just a few minutes, which was just as well because even at 11:45am, there were already a dozen people waiting outside for seats to vacate. This isn’t a place to linger, except maybe towards midnight when only the hardcore are left. I paid my money and walked out into the humid noontime air completely satisfied.
Serious Japanese ramen connoisseurs will no doubt find things to quibble about with Ramen Truck, but after a few visits now, I have to say that I’m a fan. I could wish it larger and less popular, but to be fair even my time in Tokyo demonstrated that queuing for noodles is all part of the experience. If you are around Sangsu station and fancy some porky Japanese goodness, this is probably your best bet.
- Category: Japanese
- Price: $$$$
- Must try: Tonkotsu ramen (7,000 won)
- Subway: Sangsu Station (상수역) exit 4
- Hours: As above, 11:30-2:30 pm and then 5pm – midnight (last order 11:30pm). I suggest you avoid peak times. Check their Facebook page here.
- Directions: Come out of Sangsu station exit 4, heading down away from the main road, and Ramen Truck is second on the right.
- Soju Sunrise Food Awards 2016 | soju sunrise - […] Ramen Truck (Hongdae, above) […]