Kuma Noodle Japan

When many people think of Japanese food, they think of sushi. However, to the Japanese, the raw fish delicacy is often considered a rare treat, relative to steak in Western cuisine. Therefore one should really be acquainted with every day (an adjective not to be applied to quality or flavour) Japanese cuisine, at the very least for education’s sake.

Kuma Noodle Japan is inconspicuously sandwiched between aptly titled Korean Food Market and Fig Mediterranean Deli in a complex obscured by the large McDonald’s on the intersection of Shelbourne Street and Cedar Hill Cross Road. You won’t find Kuma Noodle’s website or social media account, but stepping into the Japanese ramen restaurant, it’s clear that these aren’t needed. Turns out, their seemingly elusive nature does not come at a cost to business, nor is it reflected in their food.

A glance at the menu’s best offerings.

The menu is divided by noodle (ramen), rice (don), and combo bowls, the first definitely their specialty. Choose from soy, salt, or miso flavour and get a bowl of salty, savoury chicken stock-based broth generously laden with tender yet firm noodles, bean sprouts, sliced pork, and half a boiled egg. Select a couple of your favourite extra toppings, which should include the traditional spicy kimchi. A light yet full and flavourful miso comes with the don and combo bowls, but a great, filling side is the grilled gyoza, served with a salty soy dip.

Enjoy Japanese comics while you wait for your meal.

Seated solo at a counter that faces the loud, open-concept kitchen, peruse the Japanese comic books lined up across the bar or enjoy the random assortment of action figures scattered amongst them. With decorative gourds and heaps of multi-language newspapers, they somehow complement the traditional Japanese art hung from the walls. Kitschy isn’t the right word because it seems to work harmoniously, kind of like the uncoordinated but catchy playlist looping pop songs (both in English and Japanese), classic rock, country, and Linkin Park from the corner.

Large booths accommodate groups and families while solo diners sit at the food bar.

If you don’t have time to enjoy this kind of ambiance that just can’t be designed, or you’ve arrived during one of the restaurant’s many busy hours, order some ramen to go. While you wait, check out the Korean grocer next door to pick out your favourite Pocky for dessert.

Just like the BBQ pork in your don bowl, no fat is cut from Kuma Noodle Japan. Service is friendly but quick and to-the-point. Only chopsticks are provided, except by special request. Unless you’re in the great minority, customers are greeted and served in Japanese, and most of the menu is written in two languages. Everything is fast, authentic, and absolutely delicious, and when it comes to your food, would you want it any other way?

1551 Cedar Hill X Rd, Victoria, BC, (250) 590-3398

—By Aurora Tapp


Top photo: A traditional BBQ Pork Kimchi Don and Miso Soup.




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