Where to get great ramen in Cape Town

Ramenhead (Parliament Street, Cape Town City Centre)

Touting authentic Japanese street food, Ramenhead, which opened in December last year, is the brainchild of Peter Tempelhoff and Ashley Moss, the duo behind award-winning restaurant FYN. Don’t be deceived by the concise menu – at Ramenhead, the noodles are made fresh to order, while the flavours are spot on. Take your pick from the Sesame Miso, a vegetarian ramen bowl featuring roast sesame and miso tare, fried tofu, bok choy, menma bamboo, negi spring onion and pickled shiitake, or go with the Tonkotsu, a crowd-pleaser featuring shio tare, mayu burnt garlic, kikurage wood ears, negi spring onion, pork belly chashu and nori. You could also try the Tori Chintan containing shoyu tare, chicken chashu, chicken fat, dashi powder, negi spring onion, menma bamboo, nori, sweet miso corn and chicken wonton, or the fusion Karoo Lamb Mazemen, a soupless ramen bowl with curried Karoo lamb, egg yolk, lemon achar, tomato and ginger, fresh coriander, fried curry leaves, negi spring onion and red onion. If you’re feeling peckish, Ramenhead offers add-ons to the ramen bowls that include ajitamago (a marinated soft-boiled jammy egg), yaki nori Japanese seaweed laver or extra noodles. Alternatively, you can also opt for the add-on set for two, which includes ajitamago, yaki nori and chashu. For those looking to add a kick to their ramen, the restaurant has ‘ajihen’ handy on every table, comprising the three components of togarashi (Japanese seven spice), chopped chilli in chilli oil, and a blend of white pepper, black pepper and Sichuan pepper.


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Downtown Ramen (Harrington Street, Cape Town Central)

Another well-loved spot for ramen in Cape Town, Downtown Ramen offers a choice of Katsu Chicken Ramen, Shoyu Ramen, Spicy Miso Ramen and Kimiko Ramen. The Katsu Chicken Ramen comprises spring onions, leeks, bean sprouts, spinach, a boiled egg, chicken broth, sliced chicken fillet and ramen noodles. The Shoyu and Miso Ramen both contain spring onions, leeks, spinach, a boiled egg, ramen noodles and either miso broth and braised beef short rib for the Miso Ramen or pork broth with char siu pork slices for the Shoyu ramen. The vegetarian Kimiko Ramen comes with wakame, spinach, tofu, spring onions, leeks, boiled egg, vegetarian broth, sesame oil and ramen noodles. Downtown Ramen also offers a Vegan Mushroom Ramen comprising mushroom broth with mushroom oil, shimeji mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, bok choy, bean sprouts and ramen noodles. The Shoyu Ramen and the Katsu Chicken Ramen are the most popular among customers. The restaurant also offers extra toppings that can be added to the ramen, including extra noodles, boiled egg, nori, tofu, chilli, spring onion and spinach. There is also complimentary homemade chilli oil on every table.


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Kyoto Garden (Kloof Nek Road, Gardens)

Kyoto Garden, the 16-year-old ‘shrine to Japanese cuisine’, boasting a Japanese chef and kitchenware imported from Japan, is a must-try restaurant for the ramen, served in traditional ramen bowls imported from Japan. On the menu, you’ll find options of ramen noodles with wagyu featuring grilled wagyu, umami beef broth, ramen noodles, leeks and pok choy; ramen noodles with prawns comprising a seafood broth, prawns, ramen noodles and pok choy; ramen noodles with Japanese chicken curry featuring curry broth, chicken, ramen noodles, leeks and pok choy; and the vegetarian ramen noodles containing kombu broth, ramen noodles, broccoli, asparagus, pok choy, spring onions and leeks. The ramen noodles with wagyu is by far the most popular with customers.


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Izakaya Matsuri (Prestwich Street, Green Point)

Literally translating to ‘an informal bar for drinks and snacks’ in Japanese, Izakaya Matsuri is a popular spot for ramen. Choose between the Tonkotsu Ramen, Shoyu Ramen or Miso Ramen, each of which includes toppings of pork, chicken or beef, along with mushrooms, mangetout, baby corn, bamboo shoots, boiled egg and ramen noodles. Vegetarians can order the Miso or Shoyu Vegetarian Ramen, which has vegetarian broth, mushrooms, mangetout, baby corn, bamboo shoots, spinach, ramen noodles and a boiled egg. The Tonkotsu pork ramen and chicken ramen are the most ordered by customers. A full egg can be added to any of the ramen options at an additional cost, while complimentary fresh chopped chillies or spicy sauce can also be added to the ramen on request.

Three Wise Monkeys (Regent Road, Sea Point)

Inspired by New York’s bustling ramen bars, Three Wise Monkeys has for the past 11 years been a hot favourite with Capetonians hankering for a good ramen fix. Options include the Chicken Ramen, Beef Brisket Ramen, the bestselling Beef Fillet Ramen, Duck Ramen and Vegetable Ramen. All the non-vegetarian ramen options include chicken-based broth, secret shoyu (soy sauce) seasoning, ramen noodles, pickled mushrooms, den miso corn, a five-minute marinated egg, spinach, leeks and nori, as well as a choice of either chicken, beef brisket, beef fillet or pan-seared duck breast, depending on the ramen of your choice. The Vegetable Ramen comprises shiitake with kombu and miso broth, secret shoyu seasoning, ramen noodles, pickled cabbage and mushrooms, den miso corn, five-minute marinated egg (optional), spinach, leeks and nori. Tofu can be added to the vegetarian ramen, while a vegan option with rice noodles is also available. Other add-ons include noodles, chicken, beef brisket, duck and extra beef fillet. For those who like it hot, complimentary homemade chilli oil can be added to any ramen bowl.

Bodega Ramen (Wale Street, CBD)

Offering an unpretentious dining experience in a warm and welcoming setting, Bodega Ramen is the place to go to fulfil your ramen cravings. Pick from the Miso Pork Ramen featuring handmade noodles, pork belly char siu, soy pickles, ajitama egg and miso tare broth; Beef & Kimchi Ramen comprising handmade noodles, braised short rib, napa kimchi, ajitama egg and miso tare broth; Sichuan Hotpot Pork containing handmade noodles, char siu pork, mala spice and ajitama egg; or Vegan Shiitake & Tofu with handmade noodles, pickled shiitake, slow-roasted tomato and glazed tofu. While the Beef & Kimchi and the Sichuan Hotpot are the most popular options at Bodega Ramen, the restaurant also serves other special ramen bowls on rotation for short periods that are advertised on the restaurant’s Instagram page. These include Prawn Jungle Curry Ramen, Tom Yum, Fish Laksa, Aubergine Tantanmen and Pork Shoyu Wontonmen. In all the ramen bowls, regular wheat noodles can be substituted for rice noodles, as a gluten-free option. Add-ons to the ramen bowls include beef short rib, char siu pork, glazed tofu, extra noodles and ajitama egg.


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Obi (Long Street, Cape Town City Centre)

Keeping things simple, yet exciting, Obi offers a different ‘ramen of the day’ daily. Options include Tonkotsu Ramen (pork bone broth) or Shoyu Ramen (chicken broth with miso blend) or Miso Ramen (miso broth – miso paste based). Each ramen option includes ramen noodles, broth of the day, pork belly chashu, a six-minute egg, spring onion and nori. All options are only available for dine-in. The Tonkotsu Ramen is the bestselling ramen at Obi. Add-ons to the ramen include egg, fresh chopped chilli or Japanese seven-spice mix.


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Lucky Bao (Scott Estate, Hout Bay)

For a taste of traditional Japanese ramen, Lucky Bao is just the place. Ramen offerings include the top-selling Pork Shio Ramen comprising pork dashi, roasted pork belly, shiitake mushroom, onsen egg and nori; Duck Duck Egg Ramen featuring duck dashi, pulled duck, onsen egg, nori and spinach; and Miso Lucky Ramen which is a vegetarian ramen containing miso tom yum dashi, roasted aubergine, fried tofu, mushroom and wakame. No add-ons are available as the restaurant tries to keep the ramen bowls as authentic as possible. Half portions can be ordered on request, which cost half the price of the standard portion.


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How’s Your Oni? (Scott Street, Gardens)

Six-month-old How’s Your Oni?, which specialises in handmade gourmet onigiri, also offers ramen that is definitely worth trying. The Tori Chintan comprises katsu chicken, chicken broth, mushroom, corn, ajitamago (ramen egg), spring onion and ramen noodles, while the vegetarian ramen changes every week, but usually features ramen noodles, Japanese curry, corn, mushrooms, spring onion and ajitamago. Half portions are available on request at half the price of the standard portion. The restaurant also offers add-ons of chicken Katsu and ajitamago. Extra chilli is complimentary for those who want to spice things up a bit.


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Tomo Japanese Restaurant (Loop Street, Cape Town City Centre)

At Tomo, patrons can enjoy the Tomo Signature Ramen in two options: beef or vegetarian. The beef ramen comes with egg noodles, beef broth, spinach, cilantro, mushrooms and a boiled egg, while the vegetarian ramen has a soya sauce and vegetable broth, mushrooms, spinach, spring onions, a boiled egg and egg noodles. No add-ons are available, but homemade chilli oil is offered complimentary on the table.

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