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“The Bao is beautiful and the ramen, inspiring.”
Review of Downtown Ramen

Downtown Ramen
Ranked #364 of 1 228 Restaurants in Cape Town Central
Restaurant details
Reviewed 22 May 2015

Walking into Downtown Ramen is like walking from one country into another. At the top of the stairs you are greeted by arcade machines and graffiti on the walls with hip hop music streaming through a doorway. Through the doorway you are greeted by one of the friendly and knowledgeable waiters. There are small tables available, but sharing one of the long benches with strangers is part of the experience. Soft drinks and Japanese beer is on offer, and warm sake is served warm from traditional carafes. The bao (steamed bun) are the starter and are unbelievably delicious. The braised beef bao is simply amazing. But the star of the show is the ramen. Hot. Delicious. It’s everything you hope it to be. Chili is optional and so is the soft boiled egg. Both of which are highly recommended. The flavours are layered and each mouthful is exceptional. By far one of my favourite eating experiences on the planet.

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Thank CoastalLivingSA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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44 - 48 of 52 reviews

Reviewed 15 May 2015

Downtown Ramen hasn’t been around long and was recommended to us as one of Cape Towns undiscovered gems. Entering the eating room via a stairway in the back of Lefty’s, we were surprised at the amount of people seated at long communal tables. This is a cool concept when visiting with a group of mates, but I would definitely won’t pick this place for a romantic dinner or a family outing. After struggling to find seating for the four of us, we managed to squeeze in between some other patrons. We opted for some boa (steamed buns) to start off with and a couple of cold beers. Unfortunately, the beers on the chalkboard were all sold out except for the castle light, which is not really beer. So, off I was to get beers downstairs. The bar at Lefty’s downstairs is laidback at best and slower than a garden snail climbing a vertical wall at its worst. Needless to say, I wasn’t amused when I finally got back upstairs. The boa made up for this mini disaster, because it is just plain awesome. It was a match made in heaven between slow roast pork, veggies and a soft bun. After our starters we were dead keen on our mains, the ramen noodles. We all ordered a different type of noodles, with myself going for the spicy Laksa noodles. I do love spicy food, I really do but this was really really spicy. The spiciness was too overpowering, totally annihilating the diversity of flavors that lay below the surface. This was a real pity, especially because the braised pork noodles that a friend ordered proved that flavors can be balanced, making her main course really good. The portions are very large, even a big eater would struggle finishing his or her bowl of noodles. When I came to service I am in two minds. The one waitress was really doing her best, but she just couldn’t manage when the place filled up to full capacity. It is a shame really, cause having one more waitress like her would have made the place running like a Swiss swatch. Overall the food experience wasn’t that great, but it is undeniably one of the more interesting restaurants in Cape Town. If you have an adventurous group of mates with a taste for hipster style noodles, you should visit this place.

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Thank jeroenvissers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 May 2015

The menu is very limited - Vegetarian Ramen or Ramen with Pork Neck. Huge portions, incredibly tasty. Very basic decor, great Japanese beer. It is really worth a visit every time you go to Cape Town

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Thank Theo F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 March 2015

I have been a great fan of Ramen after tasting it the first time many years ago and much to my delight found a place in Harrington Street that serves a good bowl according to online reviews so I decided to try it.
I was not put off by the dodgy area since I know of some great places like Diaz tavern and Percies in the same area that I have frequented for years.
To get to Downtown Ramen you have to go in to Lefty’s, as it is on the top floor of the same building.
The place is a dark and dusty even a bit grimy but it has got a lot of atmosphere, packed with hipsters.
I grabbed a beer at the bar and moved upstairs where our group of three asked a couple if we could share their table, something everyone’s does as there is a shortage of seating space, and they don’t take reservations.
The restaurant looks like something you would find in downtown Tokyo, wood veneer cladded walls, long tables and benches as seats, with Kung-Fu like decoration on the walls.
I always check out the kitchen and much to my delight, unlike the rest of the place it was clean and modern.
I could not order the same beer upstairs as downstairs which I found a bit strange and the beer on the blackboard that I did want was out of stock so I settled on an unknown Japanese beer, which was cold, and therefore good.
The menu is very limited, you have a choice of 3 starters called bao (steamed buns) with a choice of three fillings: pork belly with a citrus pickle, soy-and-beer-braised short rib, and a vegetarian option with aubergine.
Then there is a choice of three main course ramen noodle dishes: pork, braised short rib or vegetarian with tofu, delivered in shoyu (soya-based) broth, and you can add boiled egg and or chillies.
The girl in our group is vegetarian so we between the three of us we ordered everything on the menu.
Food arrived promptly, in a big black bowl with a humongous spoon and two chopsticks.
I first had the bao, which was light and fluffy and bursting with flavour. Then after figuring out what to do with Goliaths spoon I dug in with the chopsticks into the bowl of Ramen.
The noodles are very average but the combination of the rest of the ingredients created a delicious taste explosion in my mouth, one word, wow. If you like Asian flavours, like star anise, miso and nori you would absolutely love this dish. It was great value as well at R75 for a big bowl. I finished the dish off finding the hot chillies seeds at the bottom with Goliaths spoon, sipping from the side like a little insect. As we consider ourselves a conscientious bunch we asked for the bill as soon as we were finished in order to give other waiting patrons a taste of Asian magic as by this time people were queuing and the place was very full. This is where things turned a bit sour. The poor waiter was running around like a Wile E. Coyote on Fire. He was the only waiter serving everybody, and after waving him down we eventually got our bill. Luckily for us we know how to operate a credit card machine because as soon as he put it down, he was of running around again. We decided to go downstairs to grab a beer and go outside as they were smoking in the bar. We waited for at least 15 minutes to order a beer, but all the barman was interested in was pouring drafts for the waiters, I eventually asked him, if he was ever going to serve us to which he replied yes when he is finished with his orders, life is too short to stand at an empty bar waiting for service so we went to Percies instead.
So, did I enjoy the food, yes
Will I go back, probably not
Do I recommend the place, yes for the Ramen and bao only.
The waiter at the noodle bar was busy and overworked, the barman at Leftys was just plain useless.
Service at Leftys is not even an inconvenience between pouring a drink and collecting the cash because it is simply non-existent.

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2  Thank Gustav S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 January 2015

This out of the way, noisy, very basic restaurant is really someplace worth visiting. Just above Leftys Dive Bar, the menu is very limited (meat choice, veg choice), however... once that bowl of Ramen arrives, everything is wonderful. Tasty, fresh (crunchy) and very generous portions. Wonderful experience. Definitely worth a repeat visit.

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Thank Theo F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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