A cheery spot for Japanese noodles

Small and friendly Menyatai in Kensington lets you customize your ramen

There’s a new spot for tasty ramen in town. Located a couple of doors down from the Kensington Wine Market Menyatai Japanese Ramen is a cheery spot with beautifully presented Japanese dishes.

Taking refuge on a chilly rainy night my husband and I pop into Menyatai for dinner. The open yet intimate interior is great. Modern floral wallpaper mixed with wood paneling acts as a backdrop to the space which has clusters of chrome pendant lighting neon seating and white tabletops. It’s eclectic but succeeds in creating an upbeat vibe.

The space is on the small side seating about 25 so you might want to make a reservation. On the night we visit we only wait about five minutes for a table but I could see it being tough to get in on busier nights.

Starting our meal we get an order of gyoza (five pieces for $5.50). It’s fairly standard as far as gyoza goes — the pork and vegetable filling is flavourful and the exterior has a nice crisp to it. Nothing out of the ordinary and nothing disappointing.

We also try the deep-fried squid ($6.95). Lightly battered and served with a lemon wedge the squid is fairly tender with a light crunch coming from the batter. It’s tasty and the portion size is good but it’s a tad dry — an accompanying sauce or even extra lemon wedges would be a good addition here.

For his main my husband orders the chicken teri-don ($12.95) a bowl comprised of sautéed chicken onions mushrooms green onions and pickled ginger on rice. As a bonus it comes with a simple yet rich miso soup featuring nori and green onions.

It’s a tasty dish with tender bites of chicken and an earthy umami taste coming from the mushrooms and teriyaki sauce. This version is definitely more refined and complex than those sugary-sweet concoctions found at food courts. The addition of pickled ginger and sesame seeds offers a nice contrast of flavour and texture.

For my main I dig into one of the houses specialties the extra BBQ pork ramen ($13.95). The presentation of all of the dishes is great and the ramen is no exception. Topped with a soft-boiled egg with a nice runny yolk slices of individually roasted pork sit atop a mound of ramen ribbons of green onions corn bamboo shoots and nori in a shoyu broth (soy sauce-based broth).

The pork is delectable. It’s tender with just the right amount of fatty goodness and features a great savoury flavour. The noodles are good too — not mushy in the slightest and with a good chew to them. The shoyu broth is decent but mild not as complex as I would have liked.

I have two minor issues with my dish. The large slices of bamboo shoots tend to dominate the flavour and the huge ribbons of green onions may look pretty but I prefer my green onions to be chopped smaller and sprinkled on. Thankfully the tasty pork makes up for it.

Menyatai allows you to customize your ramen so next time I’d probably try the miso or curry broth. Beyond the pork ramen you can get shoyu shio miso spicy miso curry and vegetable ramen varieties in addition to six kinds of udon.

With a great array of appetizers soups and entrees you’re bound to find something you like on Menyatai’s menu. This may not be the best ramen in town but it definitely ranks in the Top 5 and it doesn’t hurt that the service is friendly and the space is adorable.