At Masamune, Japanese chef finds the key to a good ramen

Shio ramen, ajitama and sparkling wine in a masu.
Shio ramen, ajitama and sparkling wine in a masu. Athena Zelandonii

At Masamune, Japanese chef finds the key to a good ramen

“In Sendai, we associate the city with [seventeenth-century warlord] Date Masamune,” says 27-year-old Yusuke Tanaka. (Missing an eye, Masamune was also known as the “one-eyed dragon”). “He was the strongest, so the restaurant is named after him.”

Tanaka opened the ramen and gyoza bar Masamune on Bassac Lane late last month with three other Japanese businessmen and restaurateurs. He says they are bringing an authentic northern Japanese-style ramen to a scene otherwise dominated by heavier ramens, like the Tonkotsu of the south.

“Some people like the light taste, some people like the heavy taste,” he says.

Masamune, which first opened in 2010 in the northern city of Sendai and has branches in Tokyo, Saint Petersburg and now Phnom Penh, offers ramen in two varieties: shoyu and shio ($5.50 or $3.50 for a small bowl).

“Shoyu is a basic soy flavour, while shio [salt] is most difficult – a very sensitive flavour . . . so you can taste all the seasonings,” Tanaka says.

Masamune does not disappoint, especially if you throw down the extra dollar for the ajitama topping (an egg that is parboiled, then put in ice-cold water, shelled and left to soak in a flavoured soup). The key to a good ramen, Tanaka says, is the wheat-flour noodle, which is made fresh each morning.

“Moisture is very important. [In Cambodia], things become moist fast, and so all the noodles would stick together,” he says. “We are very strict for the noodle; if the noodle is not good, the soup is not good.”

But Masamune isn’t just about the ramen (or the gyoza dumplings at $2 for four or $4 for eight); it offers a variety of appetisers and drinks including Japanese whiskeys and sake.

The sparkling wine ($4.50) is served in a glass in a masu (measuring) wooden box, which is filled as well, and while it may seem like a quirky Japanese trend, it’s essentially a buy-one-get-one-free when you realise the liquid in the box refills your glass.

The bar, Tanaka says, is the difference between a ramen place and the European model of a gyoza bar, attracting a dinner and late-night crowd alike.

“I don’t know about you, but after I go out for drinks, I like to eat a little something,” he says.

Open every day from 11am-midnight, Masamune is located at #M47, Street 308. Tel: 012 734 163

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor Wat named as the top landmark for the second year

    Travel website TripAdvisor has named Cambodia’s ancient wonder Angkor Wat as the top landmark in the world for the second year running in their Travelers’ Choice Award 2018, an achievement Cambodian tourism operators expect will attract more tourists to the Kingdom. The website uses traveller

  • Hun Sen detractors ‘will die’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday said those who curse or insult him would eventually die without a plot of land to bury their bodies after being killed by lightning, suffering the same fate as those who recently died in Thmar Baing district in Koh

  • Monks given ‘Samdech’ title for contributions

    Three senior monks on Thursday were given the highest-ranking title “samdech”, with Prime Minister Hun Sen saying that the promotions were due to their contributions to Buddhism. The three distinguished monks were promoted on Thursday morning at Botum Vatey pagoda in Phnom Penh, at a

  • Facing possible sanctions, PM criticises Washington’s rights record

    While United States congressmen are discussing the Cambodia Democracy Act and an amendment that could impose more sanctions against Cambodia’s government, Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday counterattacked by questioning the respect of human rights and democracy under the US-backed Lon Nol regime, and