Like any proper phantom, Ghost Ramen is difficult to see. You might think it’s The Village. A reasonable assumption given the grey-and-white shingle suspended above the black awning, and the name stencilled into the window next to the main door.
The giveaways are the pink warrior ghost placards at the bottom of each window pane. But these are best seen when on foot.
Inside, the room seems large with its high ceilings and warm palette of rough pine planks and raw brick. Well separated brick-coloured booths and banquettes are highlighted with lowlights of dark chocolate, and a large mirror-map of old-town covering one wall shows you just where you happen to be. Really, you shouldn’t be lost: The Ghost lurks right next to Swan’s Pub.
I begin with a personal pot of Silk Road Winter Warrior Tea ($3.50; silkroadteastore.com) with flavours of ginger and lemon in a green tea fortified with rooibos.
The stainless pot holds enough for two large mugs, which is good, because despite sipping slowly, I’m already through the first mug when my food arrives.
Later, I order a refill of hot water, fully expecting the second infusion to be a pale comparison with the first. But not this time.
Two people could share this pot, and the hot water refill, and both enjoy two perfectly good mugs of really fine tea.
I’ve ordered the MisoTonkotsu ($17), which features a quarter-inch-thick meaty slab of pork belly that has been sous vide in a chashu marinade—classically of soy sauce, sweet mirin wine, ginger, garlic and green onion—but I’m not in the kitchen.
The lightly seared pork takes up a third of the surface of the bowl, and is tender enough to cut with chop sticks, yet rigid enough to pick up with the same.
But of course, the star of any ramen bowl is the ramen, in this case, thin, straight Hakata-style noodles made in-house.
The ramen fills the bowl, but lay invisible below the frothy, cloudy miso-pork broth. Kernels of corn, rings of green onion, bits of fried garlic, and pea shoot strings float on the surface, but quickly descend deep into the broth as the first cluster of noodles are drawn up like a curtain from out of the broth.
Don’t be nervous eating noodles with chopsticks. It seems sloppy, but it’s entirely appropriate.
If feeling self-conscious, here’s a rookie trick: repeatedly stroke the noodles between the chopsticks in a backward motion while you eat.
Some will break and fall neatly back into the bowl, giving you the appearance of having control.
However you slurp them up, once all those magnificent noodles are all gone, what remains is a delicious chowder-like soup filled with all that corn, garlic and onion descended from above, and of which you will not want to waste a single drop.
Which, I suppose, explains that Chinese spoon I’ve been ignoring.
1609 Store Street, Victoria
250 590 9821 | ghostramen.ca