Yamagoya Ramen @ Gaya Street

Although relatively a newcomer in Kota Kinabalu’s food scene, with seasonal and high grade ingredients like char siu (sliced pork), nori (dried seaweed), kamaboko (cured surimi), scallion, corn, kakuni (braised pork), narutomaki (cured fish surimi), boiled egg, menma (condiment made from lactate-fermented bamboo shoots), bean sprout and butter to flavor their handcrafted ramen, this place is not your average low end ramen joint!

Yamagoya Ramen made its debut at its birthplace, Japan, some forty years ago, after many years of experimentation searching for best ingredients and cooking and preparation method. Today, with more than 150 outlets in Japan, China, Thailand, Malaysia and most recently Indonesia, Yamagoya Ramen has garnered what could only be considered as a cult following worldwide. But then again, who doesn’t love a bowl of ramen? We can’t think of anyone who doesn’t and quite frankly it doesn’t matter, because you will love Yamagoya Ramen.

Situated smack in the middle of Gaya Street is where it’s at – a small, cozy place where you can taste the chefs' passion in every bowl. The ramen noodles are made in-house with a machine imported from Japan and most of the ingredients are seasonal and imported from the country of the rising sun. This is not a run-of-the-mill lazy ramen ladled up by drones, but flavorful, savory bowls of goodness created by real chefs who are undoubtedly passionate about cooking and Japanese cuisine in general.

Spicy Tobanjan Ramen
Characterized by its spicy and mildly salty tasted, attributed to Tobanjan itself (fermented broad beans, soybeans, salt, rice and various other spices), Spicy Tobanjan Ramen is particularly popular in Korea albeit also noted as “strange” taste by some.

Black Garlic Ramen
Although many raved its delicious pork tonkatsu soup base, the key note here is the black garlic oil. First fermented at high temperature, producing black cloves that are intense and uniquely flavored – the broth is sweet with a faint balsamic vinegar and tamarind flavors, making the Black Garlic Ramen one of the tastiest ramens available at Yamagoya Ramen.

Mukashi Special Ramen
Eating the Mukashi Special Ramen is a lot like eating a happy, salty snack – except that it’s a whole lot of ramen. It’s a feel good bowl of happy noodle; it’s a great mix of soy sauce, bonito extract, salt, and other secret delicious things. Yum.

Miso Ramen
Rich, tangy and a little nutty, Miso Ramen is famed all over the country for its fun and flavorful toppings; a small dollop of tobanjan, corn, leeks, sesame seeds, garlic, bean sprouts and the usual Japanese seafood combo (kamaboko, narutomaki, seaweed, etc). Boiled with a bunch of secret spices, Yamagoya’s miso broth is oh so, so good! It’s thick but smooth, sweet and zesty, robust and nutty. Overall a very hearty soup, great for breakfast, lunch or even dinner!

Yamagoya Ramen
This one right here is deemed as the “house, must try” ramen at Yamagoya! Served in a large bowl, the toppings include thinly sliced roasted pork, pickled bamboo shoots and soft-boiled egg, all in a creamy broth. What’s special about the Yamagoya Ramen is the soft-boiled itself – it is seasoned using a special blend of spices. The yolk has a very distinct taste! Definitely something everyone must try during your first visit here.

Other dishes at Yamagoya include Pork Katsu, Soy Sauced Egg, Gyoza, Buta Kimchi and many others. The strong flavor from each dish mellows out and blends with the flavors from the other dishes, which indicate that marinade ingredient played a big part this common treat temptingly tasty. The servers are friendly so don’t be shy to ask for suggestions and which dish goes extremely well with which. Like many who have dined here; at Yamagoya Ramen, you get what you paid for.