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A visit to Momosan, Seattle's newest ramen spot

Updated: Nov 2, 2019

By Stephen Menton

I was working a late night and growing hungry. As I walked out towards Uwajimaya I saw Momosan had opened and the line didn’t seem too long. Supposedly there are no reservations or conventional waiting list, just the line. Previous days had lines going around the block, so I considered it good timing.

Glass windows along Weller St. allow those waiting to see the clean, modern interior and the breadth of culinary possibilities waiting for them. At the window near the door there’s a menu of sorts before coming down a short flight of stairs and waiting to be brought to your table.

The kitchen occupies much of the lower interior. Kushiyaki is grilled behind a small pane of glass while most of the kitchen remains open behind a dining counter. Bottles of sake and vintage-style toy robots decorate the interior. The restaurant is quieter than expected, given the open floor plan and seating for about 50. American pop and R&B plays slightly louder than the chatter, with an occasional booming いらっしゃいませ ! as staff welcomes each new set of patrons.

You’re provided two menus, one for drinks which is mostly sake, and another for food with sections for appetizers, kushiyaki, ramen, etc. The appetizer menu is vast and likely to draw me back to better explore it. I talked with my server and settled on her favorite, the duck tacos in gyōza wrappers, as well as the hot oil carpaccio as I know it’s one of Morimoto’s signature dishes.

Both appetizers were light yet bold. Each had a firm balance between flavors and each bite could be savored as the rich ingredients grace your palette. My next visit I want to try the gyōza or the hamburger steak as I could smell both from nearby patrons.

I also decided to try a “spiced car,” their take on a whiskey sidecar. It was Iwai Mars whiskey, honey, and yuzu, garnished with a twist and surprisingly shichimi togarashi. I applaud the innovation but the flavors were much too subtle, especially for the shichimi togarashi to balance the conventionally velvet smoothness and balance between subtle sweetness and lemon that typically defines the drink. This was clean, but much too mild for me.

I sipped my cocktail and slowly ate the appetizers while waiting for my entree. I would have loved the gyukotsu but it was of course gone much earlier in the day so I settled for the signature tonkotsu ramen.

The ramen that arrived was presented simply: just broth, noodles, some chashu, and a strip of nori. Normally there’s an aji-tama (supposedly quite good) though not liking eggs, I asked it to be held back. The typical mushrooms and spring onions were above average. The noodles had that right mix between firm and chewy. Unfortunately the broth didn’t feel like it had a good balance with the rest of the dish, either in flavors or aromatics. The chashu was quite fatty, which made for a smooth texture and flavor, almost melting. However it had no caramelization, smoke, or sweetness, which are my favorite aspects of grilled pork belly.

I finished my meal and thanked the staff but inside I felt disappointed. I used to watch Iron Chef religiously. I love ramen. I had such high hopes, wanted this to be incredible. Instead it wouldn’t even make my top 5 ramen joints in Seattle. After the popularity wanes though, I’m definitely coming back for happy hour sake flights and appetizers.

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