Here I sit alone in the corner at a table for two in a fairly busy ramen house. It’s 1:15 and the place is still full, mostly with Asian people enjoying their lunch. I take that as a good sign. I’m pretty sure I mentioned this before in a previous post but I have been asked if I am part Asian. Not only because of the shape of my eyes but because of my enormous infatuation with food. I miss my Asian friends in Australia and I need to find one or two to hang out with here in Calgary…any takers? I have heard wonderful things about Shikiji and once I am able to move to a more central table I really begin to people watch. I can tell right away that there are a good amount of regulars here. They look comfortable and happy. My look at the menu is cursory and brief because I pretty much know that I am going to order the Chili Goma Ramen. I consider ordering some Gyoza but decide a huge bowl of soup will be enough.
It doesn’t take long for my ramen to arrive. As the waitress sets the bowl down, my glasses steam up and I catch a huge nose full of sesame oil followed by a hit of chili. Floating on top of the rich broth is are some peanuts, shiitake, ground pork, green onions, and chili threads as well as hundreds of tiny light and dark sesame seeds. The bowl is so huge that I can’t even see any noodles and I’m content with those first few scoops of boiling hot broth until I become so greedy that I burn my tongue. I hate to admit it but until now I was a ramen virgin. I had absolutely no idea that it was so different from satay soup really in every way other than they both contain broth and noodles. The broth (dashi) has great umami and I try to guess what it is composed of ‘Top Chef Style’. How many ingredients can I taste?
1)Sesame Oil (that’s a given)
2)Miso…maybe a sweeter light miso
4) Probably kombu and bonit0
The menu says there are bamboo shoots in the soup but I didn’t find any. There are tiny little cubes of tofu hiding within the maze of ramen noodles. I find the soup is spicy enough for my taste though I had initially asked for some extra chili oil and seasoning. I didn’t add anything else and there was enough heat in the soup to make my nose run.
While I’m guessing, the Aussie waitress inevitably comes by to ask how the Ramen is. I bet she was expecting the standard ‘fine thanks’. Instead she got ‘Unbelievable! I can’t believe I waited so long to come here! I’m moving up North so I can be closer to this restaurant!’ Ummm okay. She didn’t run away screaming and we had a good chat about the positives and negatives about our respective countries. She’s here for her first winter and so remains all cheery about it. I’m sure that will wear off with time.
Wow. I love this soup. The only thing that could make it better is if Shikiji started making their own noodles. Fresh noodles beat out packaged noodles any time. Apparently they have experimented with the idea, but I’m guessing that they just don’t have the space it would take to prep a days worth of noodles. The whole time I am here the place is packed even though there is last call for the kitchen at 1:45. I bet they could stay open all afternoon.
It’s not cheap. My soup was $13.95 which is about double what I would normally pay for a satay soup. I’m actually kind of glad I live so far away because I know that if I was closer I would be eating here at least once a week. If you haven’t been to Shikiji you must give it a try. It’s worth it.
1608 Centre St. N.E.
Calgary, Alberta, Calgary
Monday – Friday
11:30-2 / 5-9
11:30-2:30 / 5-9