I sat down almost a year ago in Tokyo with JB, the owner of newly opened Parisian ramen shop Kodawari Ramen. He had dreams of bringing a real bowl to France, the kind that he slurped every time he visited Japan. Not just the taste, but the atmosphere, the feeling, of Japanese ramen.
That was how Kodawari Ramen was born.
The shop is an absolute trip. Located in trendy St. Germain, stepping in is like being transported back to Japan, into a dingy alleyway of a real Yokocho, one of Japan's tightly packed food streets. Check out my YouTube video for a walkgthrough. It is safe to say that this is a must-visit shop just for the traditional chochin lanterns, rickety sheet metal roof awnings, and ripped-from-the-pavement (literally) Tokyo manhole covers on the floor.
Then there is the ramen. While the global trend is still heavy on the pork, Japan is all about chicken these days. High-quality, healthy, farm-raised poultry is the norm at the best ramen shops in Tokyo, and Kodawari isn't any different.
Embracing chicken, Kodawari ramen's small menu has only four bowls of soup; a shoyu, a shio, a paitan, and one made with black sesame.
As expected, the black sesame is the most popular. People outside of Japan still tend to gravitate to less-simple ramen, and this is proof. An excellent bowl, but I would suggest starting with the shoyu ramen your first time. Kodawari is importing high quality soy sauce from Japan, and you might be surprised how good it is.
There are two soupless bowls on the menu, with one of them being the vegetarian option for the shop. These bowls really let the noodles shine. Want to know more about the noodles? I am going to write in detail about this later, but for a quick summary, Kodawari Ramen is growing their own wheat and having it milled by an artisinal miller. I've never seen anyone go this deep into noodles, even in Japan. Of course, they are making the noodles in house as well. Amazing.
The shio bowl has a lot of ramen nerds debating if it is okay to put a tomato in your ramen. Of course, I say it is fine, tomatoes have a lot of natural umami, and shio needs that extra kick, but many self-proclaimed ramen experts in Paris have said it is unacceptable.
My favorite bowl is the toripaitan. It has that extra umami that I love. Not as creamy as some toripaitan bowls I've had, but more robust and intense.
The egg, though not as bright orange as the premium ones we get in Japan, is on point.
Kodawari Ramen is poised to be an important player in the French ramen scene. Ramen in Paris is abysmal at best, with most shops being a combination of Chinese, Japanese, and Thai under one roof. Anywhere that serves sushi and ramen is already doing something wrong (not always the case), but when you start throwing in random Asian cuisine, you've gone too far. I saw dozens of these shops around Paris.
I'm not here to tell you what to eat, but when you visit restaurants created by people who truly care about the food, you're not only helping yourself, but helping to create a vibrant restaurant scene. Kodawari Ramen, alongside anyone else who opens a legit ramen shop in Paris, is a big step in the right direction.
Official Site Here
29 rue Mazarine, Paris, France
Nearest Station: Odeon
Open 12:00-14:00, 19:00-22:00 (Friday and Saturday until 23:00)