Review: Ramen Moto (라멘모토)

Despite Japanese ramen having entered mainstream status, a branch of it known as tsukemen is probably less familiar with most, aside from the ramen enthusiasts.

Instead of a piping hot bowl of noodlesand soup cohabiting in a single bowl like a traditional ramen dish, in tsukemen the noodles and soup base comes out separate with the broth served warm or hot and the noodles served chilled with the noodles meant to be dipped into the broth before eating. While traditional ramen joints have opened up shop all around the city, Ramen Moto is one of the few that dishes out tsukemen which can't come at a better time than Korea's sweltering summer season.

Ramen Moto's original two branches operate fairly close to one another with one in Sinsa's Garosugil and the other in Nonhyeon not far from Nonhyeon Station. The latter is the one I've visited most which includes seating for about 15 including bar seats for solo diners.

Like many ramen places, you order via the machine, get your ticket and await your ramen order. The tsukemen is best known here but you can also get their regular moto ramen (a tonkotsu choyu variety), the same but the spicy version, and the tsukemen which can also be ordered in a spicy version. All ramen bowls, regardless of size (medium or large) or type, are 8K across the board. You can add an extra strip of chashu for 2K, soft boiled egg for 1K, or a side order of yuzu chobap for 4K. A can of coke or sprite is 2K while beer offerings include a bottle of Asahi for 6K or Cass for 3K.

There's no frills here with cold tea and house made pickled cabbage and cucumbers offered at every table in a self-serve manner. Korean pickles tend to be sweet and these were no exception. A bit too sweet even for me.

The kitchen is very much open so you can watch them make your food which is always a plus for those who are paranoid about preparation methods.

Tsukemen comes looking like this, the broth separate from the cold noodles with the latter joined by half a soft-boiled egg and a few nori rectangles.

The pork-based broth is extra concentrated in flavor than your standard ramen base and you can even see bits of some of the pork fat blob up. This is intentional as the tsukemen broth is merely dipped into by the noodle, more like a sauce, than actually cooked into the broth.

The ramen noodles also draws a lot of raves. Not only is it made in-house but after cooking, the noodles are given an ice bath before serving which results in an extra "springy" texture.

Eating method is simple- take a chopsticks-ful pinch of the noodles and carry it over to the broth. Dunk it a few times and slurp it up. What results when the noodles and broth comes together is quite the marriage of flavors and texture. The rich, porky broth clings wonderfully to the springy, plump noodles which, because of its texture and size, releases even more flavor with every bite in the mouth. The extra concentrated broth isn't something you would enjoy on its own nor the plain noodles but when the two meet, it's a burst of colors to a blank canvas. And despite the broth's richness, they've done an incredible job removing any unpleasant scents.

There's attention to the details too. The half boiled egg is perfectly gooey in the center and yet another layer of flavor and texture to add to the whole dish. The roasted seaweed sheets provided on the side has also been thought out with the sheets being made in-house! For this extra labor of love they dry and form the sheets combining the dried laver (seaweed) with rice water and then proceed to cook just one side to give it that extra burst of flavor and crispness without overwhelming it. They recommend taking the dipped ramen noodles and wrapping it in the sheets before eating which does provide a nice flavor break from the stronger flavors of the dish.

The regular tonkotsumen, in contrast, is much subdued in flavor. They do a great job in removing any potent scents but the tonkotsumen almost is too "clean" in contrast to the "wilder" flavors of the tsukemen. I did love their tonkotsu if only it were just a bit thicker. Still, they also go to great lengths to prep the tonkotsu which they cook through, let it chill in ice water for an hour, and then grill over an open flame while giving it a wash with their house-made sauce.

Final Thoughts:
The regular ramen is nice enough but its the tsukemen that's unusual here. Thankfully the dish doesn't fall into the category of gimmick but everything from the rich broth to the chewy noodles are considered in full by the owners. Great value (especially considering it's in Gangnam) and the dish not being served hot makes it a great spot to consider during Korea's summer season.

서울 서초구 신반포로 333
333, Sinbanpo-ro, Seocho-gu, Seoul, Korea

Walk out exit 5 of Nonhyeon Station and walk west along Sinbanpo-ro for just 25 meters and you'll see Ramen Moto on your right.


11AM- 9PM everyday with break time being 3-5PM



Beer available

Both regular and large size bowls are the same price!