I might be a bit biased, but living a few hundred feet from Cowley Road and Magdalen Road, it’s hard not to feel I’m ideally placed for access to Oxford’s best selection of restaurants, bars and cafes. Branch out further to include Iffley Road, Chester Street and St Clements, and the selection just gets better.
To make narrowing down a venue even harder, a new pop-up is in town – Hyper Ramen. Taking over residency at GAF for six months, the neighbourhood ramen joint opened around a month ago and we went along for a preview to find out all about it.
A couple of weeks after opening, I visited with the lovely Carmen from @Chilliboochan supper club, who knows a thing or two about home-cooked Asian food and handmade dumplings. After stopping for a quick pre-dinner drink at The Rusty Bicycle, we arrived for dinner at 7.30 and were seated upstairs near the kitchen.
Ordering from a micro menu of four choices of ramen and three starters, we both chose the Hyper Ramen for main (£10), and a large plate of wings (£5.75) and gyoza (£5.75) to share for starters. We were VERY excited about the wings – lightly battered and tossed in sweet Japanese mirin, sesame oil and spring onions. We were also excited to try the ramen, so we could see how it stacked up in it’s most basic form in terms of flavour and authenticity.
The wings were even better than expected – big, plump and delicious, with an ‘as advertised’ light batter that had us licking our lips. The pork gyoza was excellent too, with plenty of flavour in a light shell, crisp in parts and perfectly proportioned. They were particularly neat too, considering they were handmade.
The ramen arrived before we’d finished our starters, which caused a bit of confusion. We were told it just comes out as it’s ready, which is fine, but we would have preferred to learn that upon ordering. Given this was so early in the restaurant’s life, however, this was a minor grumble. And as far as service was concerned, the only grumble I had.
The ‘double dip’ miso broth, made with a combination of chicken and fish stocks, is gently simmered in-house while chef/owner Guy gets a hard-earned forty winks. Topped with an excellent soft-centre egg, spring onions, bean sprouts, slow roasted tomato and slow cooked pork belly, the broth itself lacked, we felt, a bit of depth. However, once a dash of soy and sriracha were added, it worked perfectly well for me. We’d opted to add an ‘extra’ of chasu cracking for £1 each, which unfortunately didn’t manage to retain it’s crackle, and given its small proportions too fell a little short. Overall though, it was a very good ramen.
We finished off with a dish of mango ice cream mochi to share – a traditional Japanese dessert of rice cake surrounding an ice cream interior – which was perfectly refreshing and light following our big chow down.
For someone who’s never run a kitchen or a restaurant before, Guy has done something amazing. Not only is he working his ass off to bring it all together, he also gives a crap about it, AND has made it really work.
Go soon, it’ll be worth it. Plus I’d quite like him to stay longer than six months so I can keep going back!
We dined as guests of Hyper Ramen, views remain entirely our own.