Ramen is a Japanese soup-based noodle dish made with wheat noodles served in a meat or fish-based broth and flavored with various sauces. Pork, seaweed and egg are often included. The preparation of this dish is taken very seriously in Japan, almost like a science (ramenology?) and many cooks train for years in order to fully master the art.
Whilst there are a growing number of Japanese restaurants in Vientiane, Ramen fans will be pleased to know that there is now a restaurant devoted entirely to Ramen! Newly opened Sagano Ramen and Cafe is situated above Xayoh Grill House opposite the cultural hall. Sagano is in its opening week and most definitely going strong. I went there during the lunch rush and found the place crammed with patrons waiting to try their first bowl. These were mostly Lao with a sprinkling of eager Japanese, Koreans and Thais. I was ushered to a table by a very smily maître d‘ who found me a table by the window with a great view looking down upon the town.
Being a franchise, Sagano is ultra-modern in design and extremely clean; certainly a breath of fresh air for Vientiane’s Asian restaurant scene. There were four styles of Ramen to try, Tokutsu, Shoyu, Shio and Miso. These all have a different base for their stock: pork, soy sauce, salt and miso. I tried the miso, whilst others in our party tried the Tokutsu. We also ordered the calamari and gyoza as our sides. My Miso ramen was delicious. The broth was just the right amount of sour, whilst the noodles were the perfect consistency – not too soft but not too hard. I tried some of the Tokutsu ramen which had a weaker flavour in general but was saltier. The gyoza were just bursting with flavour and not too oily, and the calamari was nice too. I was suitably filled for lunch without being completely stuffed.
Overall, I give Sagano two thumbs up. It’s a great new concept, is competitively priced and the staff are very friendly. You can find it opposite the cultural hall on Hengboun Rd, downtown Vientiane. Opening hours are 10 -10. You can contact Sagano on 020 55522455.
Find it on google maps here.