I’m in an unknown part of town, my lunch date has just canceled on me after realising that it would take her 80 minutes to get to the restaurant. I’m strolling around the adjacent streets killing time until 13:30 when Kobuta opens. Not much to see: shuttered storefronts that look like they haven’t had anyone inside them for decades, car dealerships on the main road and office blocks going up. I swing past Kobuta and am shocked to see an ungainly crowd outside the door. I swiftly join the bunch and tumble in with the rest the minute the door opens and claim a corner seat at the bar. A handful of people that were too polite are turned away, the restaurant is full.
The restaurant is full? This is a first. In all my years here I’ve never witnessed this kind of skirmish for a seat, even more so because service has just started and we are nowhere, next to nothing of note.
I order the Tonkotsu Miso Ramen (9.2€ or 12.9€ as part of the lunch menu). I start off with some silky gyoza, singed a little from the pan. The two Catalan men next to me are having the karaage (fried chicken thighs) and they smell dreamy. A table of men across from me is having the Takoyaki, I see the Katsuobushi undulating on top. Everyone seems to be speaking Catalan, not for the first time I think how the Spanish we hear in Barcelona is for our benefit and not the true nature of the locals.
The broth is a mustard yellow, cloudy with fat, if left unattended, it begins to form a thin skin. The noodles are kinky and yellow, with a good chew, there are chunks of onion and slices of cabbage. It’s a heavy soup but without exception, up and down the bar, everyone tilts the bowl to their lips and sucks down the last dredges.
It is good ramen and something about being caught up in the mad furor of trying to get a seat adds to the experience. As do the Japanese prints and cards, stuck to the white tiles with colourful washi tape.
Note to the wise? They accept reservations so save yourself the anxiety and book a table in advance. And order the karaage as well as the gyoza.
Kobuta Ramen i Mes
C/ de Súria, 6
More Ramen on Foodie in Barcelona
Ramen Shop, Gothic Quarter
Grasshopper Ramen, El Born
Koku Ramen, El Barri Gotìc
Ramen Ya Hiro, Eixample