Asian Food Food Quests Halifax

HFX Ramen Quest Pt. 5: Buta Ramen vs. Gangnam BBQ


We’ve made it to Part 5 of the Halifax Ramen Quest! This will be the last preliminary round before the semi finals. Newcomer to the ramen scene, Buta Ramen, is up against Gangnam Korean BBQ.  Sure, it’s a Korean restaurant competing against a ramen speciality shop, but all is fair in love and noodles! Meanwhile, Buta is serving bibimbap so when the tables are turned they will not be spared from critical analysis!

The Questers: Eat This Town, Halifax ReTales, LuShark, Helen Fong, Riea Tsurumi, Denton Froese.

See Round 1 for quest introduction. 

Buta Ramen

5190 Morris St, Halifax

Buta Ramen currently serves 3 types of ramen so we ordered one of each. They are also working on a vegetarian ramen and have gluten-free options.

The menu indicates that you can order your broth “thick or regular” but we were only asked how spicy we wanted things so I suppose we received regular broths. Complimentary to our ramen were a few condiments: pickled ginger, dried garlic and chili oil. These were lovely.

Buta Ramen - tonkotsu

Helen and Denton once again shared a bowl of Tonkotsu Ramen ($12.90) (they are going to be tonkotsu experts pretty soon!). The bowls come with chasu pork, egg, green onion, seaweed and straight noodles. This was the only ramen to come with straight noodles rather than curly.

Helen and Denton were asked if they wanted it spicy. I don’t think of tonkotsu as something that you would order spicy, so I was surprised the server gave the option whereas the menu did not.

They would later regret their decision, as Denton explains: “{There was} a very rich flavour in the pork, so much so that I actually regret choosing the ‘medium’ spice level, which (although tasty) overpowered the meat a little.”

They still really enjoyed their meal, particularly the chasu pork. “It was the best meat I’ve tasted so far,” says Helen.

Buta Ramen - tantanmen

Riea and ReTales split the Tantanmen Ramen ($13.50), a spicy pork broth with spicy ground pork, egg , sprouts, bamboo and green onion.

Riea admits that she had never had this style of ramen before, but she was in love with the full bodied broth, perfectly cooked egg and flavourful meat.

ReTales says this is his “favourite bowl so far”. His only criticism is that he would have liked more meat and veg.

Buta Ramen - Nagasaki Champon

LuShark and I split the Nagasaki Champon ($16.90): “pork broth ramen with seafood and pork belly” – spicy or mild.

Seafood AND pork belly?! I’m game.

I was not familiar with Champon but apparently it is a regional dish of Nagasaki, similar to ramen except the noodles are cooked in the broth, making it a one pot dish. I don’t know if Buta Ramen is making an exact rendition or inspired rendition but this is some good shit.

We received a heaping, colourful bowl of shrimp, mussels, squid rings, pork belly, bell peppers, cabbage, sprouts and green onions. We were quite impressed with the quantity and quality of the seafood, particularly the tender and flavourful squid rings. This bowl of ramen lives up to the price tag.

The pork belly was cut into bite-sized morsels with the perfect ratio of meat to fat. This is best pork that has landed in my ramen of late.

We requested a medium spicy broth and Buta nailed it. It kicked us in the buds but mellowed out rather than intensifying.

The noodles were bouncy and chewy. “They had a flavour of their own at the same time as incorporating the broth,” writes LuShark, who was also impressed by the firmness of the vegetables. As one who is quick to discard overcooked peppers, LuShark was pleased that there was “no slime at any time”.

Gangnam Korean BBQ

1261 Barrington St, Halifax

Gangnam Korean BBQ - ramen

Gangnam Korean BBQ specializes in Korean barbecue and hot pot, and smells wonderful. The ramen options are limited to Chasu Ramen or Rib Ramen ($11.95). These are garnished with green onions, corn, fermented bamboo and tree wood ear fungus.

In terms of value, you get quite a bit of food. The egg was cooked well and the noodles were fine. The ribs and chasu were okay, if not plentiful. Submerged in each bowl were also a couple of brothlogged dumplings. These were tasty if you don’t mind soggy dumplings.

We were given these long metal spoons which made the task of slurping pretty awkward. I ended up just sipping from my bowl. Fortunately, I didn’t need to do much sipping because the broth reminded me of lukewarm Campbell’s soup. The “toppings” were submerged in its swampy essence, with odors imparted by the mushrooms and bamboo that reminded LuShark of a barn. Riea felt the bamboo was “old and chewy” and also thought the broth was smelly. We all suffered from an aftertaste that made us want a chaser.

This was quite a disappointment after our experience at Buta Ramen.

The Winner –> Buta Ramen

Buta Ramen was a feast for our eyes and our taste buds with rich, delicious broths, bouncy noodles and a plethora of pork, veggies, eggs and seafood. We loved the warm, cozy environment with brick and wood decor. The service was great, the broth was hot, and we felt that we got our money’s worth. We can’t wait to go back – and we will! Buta is definitely a contender in this quest.

We all agreed that we’d also like to return to Gangnam BBQ, but for the Korean food. While it may not have been fair to pit them against a ramen specialty shop, we expected a more serviceable and less regrettable ramen.

Halifax Ramen Quest
Part 1: Truly Tasty vs. B Well Sushi & Cafe
Part 2: Studio East vs. Water & Bone
Part 3: Tako Sushi vs. Sushi Nami Royale
Part 4: Dharma Sushi vs. Sushi Shige
Part 6: Beaver Sailor vs. Minato
Semi-Final 1: Truly Tasty vs. Studio East
Semi-Final 2: Tako vs. Buta

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