Sushi Ken v. China Magic Noodle House: Chow Bella's Ultimate Battle of the Ramen

RamenBattleBracket_Week03.jpg
Evie Carpenter
We caused a few waves last week with the second matchup in our Ultimate Battle of the Dishes ramen bracket, during which Tempe's Republic Ramen came out ahead over new kid on the block, Umami. Eventually, Republic will be facing off against Hana Japanese Eatery, which beat out Clever Koi for a spot in round two.

This week, we're heading to the East Valley to see whether Ahwatukee's Sushi Ken or Chandler's China Magic Noodle House will be moving forward in our ramen tournament.

See also: Umami v. Republic Ramen: Chow Bella's Ultimate Battle of the Ramen

sushiken-tonkotsu.jpg
Lauren Saria
Tonkostu ramen from Sushi Ken.
In one corner:Sushi Ken

The Setup: You might say Sushi Ken has cult status among Japanese food fans in the Valley. The restaurant isn't anything special to look at from the outside -- just your typical strip mall joint -- and on the inside, you'll pretty much find more of the same. The staff probably won't be super-friendly (or friendly at all), but if you're here, it's not because you're looking for an exceptional dining experience. No, you come to Sushi Ken for the lengthy menu of Japanese eats. It covers everything from sushi to ramen to hard-to-find desserts such as mitsumame, a cold, sweet jelly served with fruit. When it comes to ramen, Sushi Ken offers 13 different types including tonkotsu, miso, shio, wonton, chashu, and chicken.

The Good: For $8, you get a nice-size bowl of ramen, three pieces of California roll, and a small side of either edamame or a salad, which makes ramen at Sushi Ken a hot deal. We ordered the tonkostu ramen, which came loaded with all the traditional toppings: bean sprouts, memma (bamboo shoots), fish cake, scallions, seaweed, pork, and half of a hard-boiled egg. The highlight of the dish was the char siu pork. It was tender and flavorful, definitely the best we've had so far during our city-wise ramen battle.

The Bad: We've heard some great things about Sushi Ken's tonkotsu ramen (including from some of Chow Bella's own) so to say we had high expectations might have been putting it lightly. Overall, we're disappointed to say we weren't bowled over by the broth, which we found to be mild in the flavor department. We would have liked a little less salt and a little more pork. We were even less enthusiastic about the spicy miso ramen, which tasted like pork broth flavored with Sriracha. In both bowls, we also thought the noodles were cooked too soft.

Location Info

China Magic Noodle House

2015 N. Dobson Road, Chandler, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Sushi Ken

4206 E. Chandler Blvd., Ahwatukee, AZ

Category: Restaurant


Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
14 comments
Mindy Haskins
Mindy Haskins

I have to agree that Umami is better than RR.

Daniel Alpers
Daniel Alpers

SHENANIGANS!! -- Having lived at Quadrangles near Umami, and as a Mill Avenue District resident, Umami beats Republic Ramen on 9/10 dishes. No respect!!

Erica Elysse
Erica Elysse

Whattttt!? Why was I not aware of this sooner!

SkilletDoux
SkilletDoux

So a bowl of noodles that isn't ramen didn't meet your expectations for ramen?


C'mon, guys.  I'm not sure why you felt the need to put CMNH in the bracket rather than someplace that actually serves ramen, but setting that aside, this is really a terrible thing to do to CMNH.  You're talking about apples and oranges here, CMNH makes great apples, and you're raking them over the coals for not making oranges.  Why beat up a great place for not doing a good version of a dish *they don't even make*?

"The toppings were also a little off the mark. We got spinach, cilantro, and scallionsbut none of the usual ramen accompaniments like memma, fish cake, or bean sprouts."

Yeah, because it ISN'T RAMEN.  This is like entering a mom and pop joint that makes a great carbonara in a spaghetti pomodoro showdown and then savaging them because their carbonara doesn't have
 tomato.


This is not okay, guys.  It's just wrong.

lhsaria
lhsaria

@SkilletDoux  


Hi Dom, 


I'm not sure how this is raking China Magic Noodle House over the coals, since at the end of the post I add that "if you're really craving a great bowl of noodles (rather than ramen, specifically) this place is a great option." But putting that aside I'd also like to point out that no where in the section about China Magic Noodle House's Sliced Beef with Soup Noodles do I refer to the dish as ramen. I do, however, go into the reasoning for including it in the bracket in the section where I talk about how "la mian, are the the predecessors to Japanese ramen." 


Perhaps this is too broad a definition of ramen for you, but I don't believe I've misrepresented that restaurant or their food in anyway. And to be completely clear to others reading, I highly recommend China Magic Noodle House for the food and the unique experience. 


As always thanks for reading. 


Lauren 





Nancy42
Nancy42

@lhsaria @SkilletDoux  

You say "In fact, the dish reminded us a lot of pho and while we do love pho, we're looking for ramen." But you didn't go to a ramen place.  Why did you look for ramen at a non-ramen restaurant?  It doesn't make sense.

that-guy
that-guy

@lhsaria I wonder how Eliana's will fare against Gallo Blanco in the Ultimate Battle of the Pupusa. 

I'm on the edge of my seat here.

SkilletDoux
SkilletDoux

To be clear, the problem is that the restaurant in question — China Magic Noodle House -- doesn't make ramen. Doesn't make it. Doesn't sell it. Doesn't have the word "ramen" anywhere on its menu. They make a completely different style of noodle soup from a different country.  Yet they're being critiqued here as substandard ramen.  To do so, I think, is unfair on a number of levels, both to CMNH and to CB readers.

SkilletDoux
SkilletDoux

Lauren, you included it in the "Ultimate Battle of the Ramen," and criticized its completely appropriate Chinese noodle toppings for not being ramen toppings, and its completely appropriate Chinese-style broth for not being enough like ramen broth.  Setting aside whether that serves any purpose, how is somebody who is not familiar with the restaurant supposed to know that the dish you're talking about isn't ramen, and doesn't purport to be ramen?

Yes, Tokyo-style ramen has its origins in Chinese dishes, as Chicken Tikka Masala has its origins in Chicken Tikka.  But that doesn't mean it makes any sense to criticize Chicken Tikka for not being saucy enough.

Including them in this bracket at all is a great disservice to them, but with that as a given, I think it behooves you to make very clear for those who aren't familiar with the place that what CMNH serves IS NOT RAMEN, and that it's being judged by standards that shouldn't even apply to it.

I think what you've done here is completely unfair to a great place.

wackus4
wackus4

@SkilletDoux  If you were familiar with the history than you would have never commented that CMNH doesn't make ramen since they make Lai Mein which means ramen.  

SkilletDoux
SkilletDoux

Thanks, Wackus.  I'm familiar with the history.  If you'd bother to read the comments, I mentioned it myself above.

" The toppings also were off the mark. We got spinach, cilantro, and scallions but none of the usual ramen accompaniments like memma, fish cake, or bean sprouts."

So you think this is a valid criticism?  That it's off the mark for a Chinese noodle restaurant to not have menma, fish cake, and bean sprouts on their lamian?  That's what  your historical knowledge of the dish has taught you?  That a Chinese noodle dish in a Chinese restaurant should have Japanese ingredients on top, otherwise it's "off the mark"?



wackus4
wackus4

@Nancy42 @lhsaria @SkilletDoux  


@Nancy42 @skilletdoux do you even know what ramen is? Or better yet the history of ramen noodles? Before you start challenging someone on what it is maybe you should understand what ramen is or the history of it.  I suggest you understand the strange history of ramen and how it started from chinese chefs from Tokyo's Rairaiken restaurant created a signature dish comprising broth and chinese noodles the name started as shina soba at that time it became Japan's most popular Chinese dish and it symbolized, the expanding japanese empire.  After Japan lost its empire in World War II, the word shina came under fire. Deplored by many as a symbol of imperialist aggression and Japanese wartime atrocities in China and beyond, shina was now seen as a horrific ethnic slur, embodying imperialist xenophobia: in other words, racist. Shina soba was briefly renamed chuka sobachuka is a less politically incorrect Japanese term for "Chinese-style." But in 1958, Nissin Foods introduced the first-ever packaged instant version of the dish. As its broth was chicken-flavored, the product was called Chikin Ramen.  From there that is where "ramen" started The Japanese word ramen is derived from the Chinese words for "pull" ( la) and "noodle" (mian) because Chinese noodles are traditionally "pulled" by hand.  Ramen can come in many different forms depending on the culture or region that it comes from.  So basically one can say the China Magic Noodle house is the Chinese form of ramen and Sushi Ken's is the Japanese form of it.  The challenge is stated as the ultimate battle of the RAMEN nowhere does it distinguish japanese ramen or chinese ramen.  Bottom line is they are both ramen!!  So it is not confusing to the educated eater but maybe to someone that doesn't know what they are talking about.  

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...