Not too long ago I was treating myself to a bunch of ramen in London... It would seem that I brought this addiction back to Brussels. After a lot of errands and running around on a busy Saturday morning, my boyfriend and I needed a break. We were already in Ixelles when he remembered a little restaurant he wanted to try. I had no idea where we were going until he stopped the car in front of "Menma"...The restaurant my Japanese teacher told me I had to try! I love coincidence like these, don't you?
Menma is a small restaurant, or what I call a ramen-ya, located in Ixelles rue des saisons. Upon passing the front door you immediately get the Japanese vibe: a few tables, an open kitchen, some seats at the counter and the usual "Irasshai masai". The menu is short but looks very promising and with the open kitchen, you can see what's going on and eventually pick up a few more plates...Gyozas looked so good while they were cooking that we had to try them.
The first bite was lovely, the skin of the dumpling was crispy on the bottom but soft on the top, the filling was perfectly cooked and really tasty. If I could eat more I think I would have ordered another round but I actually really looked forward to trying the ramen which is reputed to be so close to what can eat in Japan.
As usual I ordered a Tonkotsu Ramen to have a point of comparison with other ramen-ya and my boyfriend took the the one with a Yuzu broth which is quite unusual. I wasn't sure about that last choice but I am happy he took more risks than me because it was worth it! You also choose flavour like Shio (salt), Shoyu (soya sauce) or Miso as well as between more seasonal options including spicy or ebi. They also offer vegetarian ramen!
I must say that the bowl I received was absolutely amazing, the broth was rich, not too salty, a bit creamy and really savory. The Yuzu one had this citrus hint that made it really special and unusual, it is the first time that I heard of it. Each bowl was garnished with noodles, an soft-boiled egg, some roasted pork belly slices and veggies. It was filling and satisfying after all the efforts from that morning....In short, this is one of my favorite comfort foods ever!
Quantity wise, I had too much as usual but Mr. help me finish my bowl as well as his. Having a partner in crime is so nice! You can try twice as much food but get help to eat it all.
Price wise, I think that Menma isn't expensive. Actually prices in London and in Brussels seem quite aligned for a well dressed bowl: 11~13£ or 14~15€ and you can add more topping for a small supplement. Note that you may have to wait a bit to get a table, since a lot of people want to eat at Menma or are just loyal customers ;) Japanese and Belgians alike! Note 2, you can pay by cards ^^
In short, I really like Menma and plan to go back whenever I crave a good ramen bowl! I also like a lot the fact that the staff speaks Japanese, it's great for me to practice and I love the Belgian/Japanese vibe. Every staff member has a t-shirt with both countries flags on it and everyone speaks also French, the harmony between both cultures is obvious and a nice addition to the overall feel of the place.
Have you tried Menma? What were you thoughts? I heard that the owner owns both Menma and Yamato now. Seems like him and Yamato's previous owner were friends before one retired and the other took over, keeping intact the quality, the menu and the style offered at Yamato! Need to try it to verify if it's true but if you know more, feel free to share!