The Aori Ramen Price Range:
10,000won - 11,000won per Ramen
The Aori Ramen Story:
January 09, 2018
This week I got to visit the popular and fast expanding Japanese ramen chain, Aori Ramen! Aori Ramen was created by Big Bang's Seungri, a member of a famous KPop group. Seungri is a known Japanese ramen enthusiast, and had studied and started his ramen business in Japan. After mastering his craft, he brought his chain, Aori Ramen, to Korea... now he has opened over 40 locations all over Korea and has now started to expand to other countries! I had heard stories where people have waited 50+ minutes to eat this ramen. Personally, unless if it’s a Michelin Star rated ramen... waiting that long for a chain ramen place sounds redic. With all the hype around this ramen I was skeptical that it was only popular because of the owner's star power that he brought. However, when my friend who knows nothing and doesn't care for KPop told me how much he liked the ramen, I knew I had to go and see what this ramen was about.
I had visited Aori Ramen’s Hongdae Branch. It is located close to Hongik University, and right next to NB2. (NB2 is a famous Hongdae Club that is owned by YG [YG Entertainment], Seungri’s Boss). Outside the restaurant is decorated in traditional Japanese ramen/restaurant style... with white Japanese rice paper lamps hung outside and their name logo written in Japanese. The outside was painted black with dashes of red. It really looked like a modern version of a Japanese ramen shop.
Inside they had wooden and paper walls decorated with cool anime posters, menu, and directions on how to order. The inside seating is individual seating. It almost reminded me of when I used to take an AP Test (advance placement test) where everything was singled off. You are seated in a private booth like area for one. (It would be perfect for solo eaters who feel uncomfortable eating alone.) I had visited Aori Ramen with a group of friends during lunch time and this place was pretty packed. There was about a 10 minute wait, but people tend to eat and leave at ramen restaurants quickly so the wait wasn’t bad.
After being seated I went to study the menu. They had 2 different types of broth ramen. They offered their Aori Ramen (Shoyu Ramen), Aori Ramen lite(less toppings inside the ramen), and Miso Ramen. The Aori Ramen and Miso Ramen both start at 10,000won, and the Aori Ramen lite starts at 9,000won. They also offer a soup-less noodle dish called Mazemen which cost 11,000won. All the dishes you could add extra toppings and side dishes which would cost anywhere from 500won (dried laver, marinated bamboo shoot) 1,000won (korean leek kimchi, bean sprouts, white rice, marinated soft boiled egg) 2,000won (extra noodles and barbecued marinated pork) and 3,000won for Rice and Egg with soy sauce.
When ordering you get a piece of paper and check off the type of noodle dish you want, garlic level, what kind of green onions you want, how spicy, and the extra toppings you want to add on. We decided to order one of each noodle dish and also got an order of the Rice and Egg with soy sauce. If you have any questions or problems, the workers were very nice and helpful.
The Food Ordered At Aori Ramen:
Taste: The Aori Ramen is a Shoyu Broth based ramen. The broth had an explosion of different flavors. It was salty, had heat coming from the hot sauce, and a savory taste all at the same time. There was a nice complexity to the broth. The ramen was topped with barbecued marinated pork, Japanese bunching onions, marinated soft boiled egg, dried laver, and marinated bamboo shoot. The barbecued marinated pork was delicious. It had a smokey taste and was absolutely tender. The soft boiled egg was cooked nicely, with the yolk still a little runny. Together with the broth gave the egg a salty kick which was nice. I didn’t really care for the dried laver, and normally I really like the bamboo shoots... but there’s was just ehhhh. The noodle was light and airy... and they were cooked nicely and got coated well with the broth. This was my favorite dish here.
Taste: The Miso Ramen’s broth was light. It had a salty and of course miso taste to it. The broth was almost too light and weak for my taste. Where the Aori Ramen packed a punch with its broth taste, the Miso Ramen’s broth was more subtle and quiet. The ramen was topped with bean sprouts, black mushrooms, corn, dried laver, green onions, and marinated soft boiled egg, and barbecued marinated pork. With a softer broth taste, they added more textures with the toppings. The mushrooms and bean sprouts gave the ramen a crunch and different mouth feel. The corn gave sweetness to the dish. I still think that the broth was a little lacking, but it wasn’t a bad ramen dish.
Taste: Mazemen is a noodle dish I that I had never seen before. After doing some research, I had found out that the dish was historically a Chinese dish... then the Japanese adopted and re-created it into their own dish. The name Mazemen comes from Maze which means to mix and Men which means noodles. This is a soup-less noodle dish that you mix all the ingredients with the noodles. It reminded me of a Chinese/Japanese noodle Bibimbap(비빔밥). The noodles were topped with Katsuobushi (bonito flakes), leek, chopped onions, seaweed flakes, egg, and minced beef. After mixing all the ingredients you are left with a pretty amazing dish. You get the savory from the beef, Katsuobushi, and egg... crunch and freshness from the leek and onions... and salty from the seaweed flakes. The sauce that is poured inside at the bottom to mix the dish together brings a different tasty fresh element to the dish. In my opinion, I believe that there was too much Katsuobushi inside the dish... but other than that it was well balanced.
Aori Ramen Lite
Taste: The broth and noodles tasted exactly the same as the Aori Ramen but without the marinated soft boiled egg, dried laver, and marinated bamboo shoots. If you are a picky eater, or only like barbecued marinated pork in your ramen... this is the noodle dish for you.
TGK (Egg and Rice with soy sauce)
Taste: The TKG or known as Rice and Egg with soy sauce looked so simple but it was delicious. It is a bowl of rice topped with egg, meat, seaweed, green onions, soy sauce, and sesame seed oil. The rice dish was rich, savory, and salty. If you think the ramen dish is going to be to small to fill you up, I would recommend you ordering this as your side dish. Simple, yet delicious.
Bottom line this place is a yes for me. The taste is good, the price is fair, and the food comes out fast and delicious. Also, they have locations all over Korea so you don’t have to travel too far to find one near you. People have complained about how spicy the ramen is, so keep that in mind when you visit!
The Rating At Aori Ramen:
The Hours, Website, & Phone Number At Aori Ramen:
Hongdae Branch Hours:
SUNDAY: 11:30AM - 10:30PM
MONDAY: 11:30AM - 10:00PM
TUESDAY: 11:30AM - 10:00PM
WEDNESDAY: 11:30AM - 10:00PM
THURSDAY: 11:30AM - 10:00PM
FRIDAY: 11:30AM - 10:30PM
SATURDAY: 11:30AM - 10:30PM
Phone Number: 02-332-3767 (Hongdae Branch)