I hope you all had a lovely time with your families this weekend! I wasn’t able to spend it with mine, but I did find time to see friends who feel like family and reflect on how many wonderful people there are in my life, especially the ones who love to eat and are patient enough to let me take photos first!
Thinking about eating with friends reminded me of one of my favourite meals from our visit to Edmonton the weekend of NYE – the same weekend, you might recall, as the Japanese feast at Leduc’s (aka Let’s Eat YEG‘s) house. It also happened to be one of the coldest weekends of the year. Cars weren’t running (but our noses were) and it was so brutally dry and frigid that you could feel your tear ducts go into overdrive as soon as you stepped outside. All this nasty weather made the decision pretty easy for Jamie and Alyssa (the couple behind Alyssa Cooks Catering!) to take us to Nudoru, one of their favourite ramen places.
Aside from the huge relief we felt when stepping into this cozy spot after a brief sprint (or waddle?) down Whyte Ave, I was immediately charmed by the decor – simple, unassuming tables and booths dwarfed by a huge mural of a Japanese warrior clad in high tops and slaying a boiled egg. My curiosity was thoroughly piqued!
It didn’t take long for another fun surprise to show up – bungers! These steamed bun sliders made up a significant portion of the Nudoru menu. There were tons of interesting options, but we finally opted to share orders of the Original (2/$10) with 5 spice pork belly, pickled pear, sweet miso and cilantro as well as the Kimchi (2/$11) with more pork belly, kimchi, pickled pear and housemade saam jang (a spicy Korean condiment). Both were plate-lickingly delicious, but the Original was my favourite – I loved the mix of sweet and savoury fillings. Matt preferred the Kimchi and loved the kick from the saam jang and spicy pickled cabbage.
We also had to split an order of the pork and cabbage gyoza ($9) – first, because they’re Alyssa’s favourite, and secondly, because why wouldn’t we want some pan-fried dumplings on this frosty evening? Maybe I’m crazy, but there’s something about the toasty sweetness of a well-seared gyoza that calls to mind the taste of roasted marshmallow. I loved the crispy wrapper and the mouth-wateringly umami filling of these delicious “dumps”, as Matt affectionately likes to call them.
The main event at Nudoru is, of course, the ramen bowls. Their menu comes with several tasty pre-built options such as the classic Tonkotsu, the spicy Dragon and even a mushroom-based Veggie option. After all those appies (and a late afternoon snack from Edmonton staple Duchess Bake Shop [https://duchessbakeshop.com/]) each couple decided to split a bowl of build-your-own ramen ($13.75), one of the many lovely and affordable features on this small menu.
Matt and I went for spicy miso broth, pork belly, bean sprouts, scallions and fried shallots. The broth was savoury, warming and just zesty enough that we could enjoy the spice without the accompanying painful lips! The noodles had a beautiful bite to them and the pork was tender, fatty and filling. Splitting a bowl between the two of us was perfect, but I definitely suggest getting your own if you haven’t just stuffed yourself with bungers and gyoza.
Jamie and Alyssa went with a milder broth, pork belly, scallions, pickled onions, egg and nori (dried seaweed). I loved the idea of pickled onions – one of my favourite accompaniments to most dishes, yet I’ve never thought to put it on ramen. All the veggies, toppings and condiments in general were tasty, fresh and highly appealing. The $13.75 price tag was in line with what I would expect to pay in the Calgary market, though I’m less familiar with ramen pricing up in YEG.
Nudoru’s high quality ingredients, cool Korean influence, tantalizing appetizer menu and easy-to-follow ramen choices would make them a fun place to introduce friends and family to some things they’ve never tried before. My only complaint is that considering the restaurant was nearly empty, I think the servers would do well to provide a pitcher of water or be a little more attentive with the refills to help diners deal with all the spicy and salty dishes. Other than that, the service was friendly and efficient, the booths were cozy and our mission of warming up was easily accomplished on one of the most unpleasantly cold evenings I’ve ever experienced. I highly recommend you check out Nudoru (10532, 82 Ave, NW Edmonton, AB) the next time you’re craving a comforting bowl of noodles or some modern Japanese-style snacks in Edmonton. Stay warm, friends!