Ramen Kingdom – has Amsterdam reached noodle nirvana?

Just when you thought Amsterdam had hit Peak Ramen, along comes something that blows all the other noodles out of the broth, as it were. Regular readers will know that I’ve been pretty obsessed with ramen for the last few years, but when Ramen Kingdom opened in early 2019 it took me a while to get there. That’s at least in part because it’s so close to Centraal Station that you have to fight your way through the tourist crowds to reach it. But now, eight months later, I’m gutted that I didn’t run the gauntlet sooner. This, my friends, this is where it’s at when it comes to ramen in Amsterdam…

First, I’m going to reiterate that I’ve never been to Japan. With that caveat, entering Ramen Kingdom feels like you’re 9,000 kilometres east. The majority of customers are seated along a counter, which borders the long, narrow kitchen. Each bowl of ramen is presented to the diner with a flourish – it’s like being in a Netflix documentary. About Ramen. In Japan. In case that wasn’t obvious. The restaurant – which can’t hold more than about a dozen customers – is adorned with artwork from, and references to, Japanese manga and anime series Dragon Ball. I only discovered this because it turns out Mr Foodie devoted half of his misspent youth to watching Japanese anime – who knew? But I digress: when a customer orders a second helping of noodles, the entire kitchen breaks into some kind of chant. When anyone leaves the counter, they’re serenaded with choruses of – well, I have no idea. But it feels friendly and very, very Japanese.

Ramen Kingdom Amsterdam
Spicy pork ramen at Ramen Kingdom

But what about the ramen? We both ordered the spicy pork ramen (€14.80) with added char siu. The latter was some of the best I’ve ever tasted – potently porky but also full of umami and slightly sweet, in both cases from light caramelisation of the meat. Definitely worth the extra €2.50 we paid for it. The noodles were thinner than some I’ve had in Amsterdam, but with no less bite. The broth was also less thick than many I’ve tasted, but still full of flavour – and, crucially, spicy heat. Ramen Kingdom’s eggs were perfect: the yolk still oozing, the white properly marinated. The rest of their ramen toppings were equally impeccable: black fungus (no, I do not normally eat anything that sounds like a mushroom, and yes, I loved this); wilted spinach; super-fine spring onion; and a dollop of minced pork and sesame.

Honestly, I think I reached Ramen Nirvana that day. I’m already salivating at the thought of my next visit to try one of their other varieties. In the meantime, all I can do is hope that no one reads this or I’ll never get a seat at Ramen Kingdom’s kitchen again…

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Ramen Kingdom (Japanese)


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