Folks regularly ask me how I go about finding the restaurants I review. Sometimes I stumble on foodie finds, often it’s word of mouth from fellow foodies, and every now and again an article hits my newsfeed that just captures my attention. Such was the case with this article by Coconuts with an uber-long title “Taste ‘alt-ramen’ at Sukhumvit joint by chef who cooked Dalai Lama’s 1st Thai meal”. It wasn’t just the intriguing title that grabbed my attention. It was the drool inducing cover photo of this giant grilled prawn bathing in a pool of rich, dark prawn broth. You may be reading this article for that very same reason. The fact is Chim Ramen (official Facebook page) makes an incredible ramen that even your camera will love!
But their prawn based ramens are really just the tip of the iceberg for what they have to offer. Their menu contains many dishes that require exploration. Which is why my gal and I went there with a couple of friends to really get in there and discover the myriad of tasty dishes that are uniquely available at Chim Ramen.
I have a lot to share…
Starting with starters…
Chim Ramen’s menu has a wide selection of starters. You can’t go wrong with any of their tofu dishes. Their homemade paneer dishes are also must try items. But that doesn’t discount their other starters. In total we ate a whopping 5 starter dishes and they’re all worth writing about. So put your reading glasses on and let’s do this!
Let me start by saying I’m not one who goes cuckoo for tofu. A flavorless blob of soy bean curd doesn’t elicit much from my tastebuds. But this…this is not that. This is a texture and flavor explosion–not your usual tofu experience at all.
Chim’s Tofu (125 baht) has a slightly crispy skin, while the inside is creamy. The caramelized onion sauce with just a hint of their homemade chili oil provides the BOOM. Even if you’re not a fan of tofu, this dish just might turn that around for you.
This is actually a secret menu item. You’ll see on the menu Cold Tofu Truffle (165 baht). But for an extra 20 baht you can substitute the tofu for their special homemade paneer. And you should because it’s really, really good.
What makes this dish really tasty is the truffle sauce. It’s a challenge trying to handle the springy paneer with chopsticks once it’s been slathered in the sauce–yet it is surprisingly easy to launch these curds around the table. This sauce is so tasty, though. It is worth the challenge and impromptu food fight. Personally I’d love to figure out how they make this sauce at home and toss some raviolis in it!
Grilled Squid Roe with Katsuo
My first experience with squid roe was this Grilled Squid Roe with Katsuo (160 baht). How to describe it? Unlike fish roe, it’s not little balls of saltiness. Squid roe are the sacks of eggs with a not quite developed tiny squid inside–so instead of that rubbery texture associated with a full grown squid it’s more creamy like. I guess you could say squid roe are more like the “veal of the sea”. Hmmm…maybe this description is going to turn some folks off here.
Let me clarify a bit more. This dish reminds me very much of takoyaki. It has both the texture and flavor without the chewy chunk of octopus in it. Plus it’s topped with shimmering bonito fish flakes and slivers of nori seaweed–very takoyakiesque (try playing this word in Scrabble, you totally could!). If you like takoyaki (and I do) you will really enjoy this dish!
Beef Tongue and Ponzu
If you want to kickstart your meal with something a little meatier, look no further than this Beef Tongue and Ponzu (180 baht) starter. The beef is incredibly tender. What really makes this a delicious dish is the ponzu sauce that it’s served with.
The vinegary bite and citrus flavors of the ponzu sauce accentuate the fattiness of the tender beef tongue. The unique flavor combination makes this dish a real treat and I highly recommend it.
Double Shrimp Salad
Maybe you prefer to start your meal off with something greener. Good on you! Chim Ramen offers several different salads with tofu, paneer, and pork. But might I suggest this Double Shrimp Salad (180 baht)? Not only is it loaded with large perfectly grilled shrimp, the salad dressing is made with shrimp heads to give it more shrimpiness ( another fun word to use in Scrabble!).
It’s all about the ramen!
Now it’s time to cover the mind blowing dishes. As the name signifies, Chim Ramen’s crowning dishes are their ramens and the amazing rich broth each bowl contains. For the real flavor enthusiast their prawn and local crab broth are also offered at double and triple strength!
If you want to spice it up a bit for an extra 20 baht you can also substitute their regular ramen noodles with reddish colored chili infused noodles. It’s not as spicy as you’d imagine but it does give the soup an extra kick.
Even if you’re a vegetarian Chim Ramen has you covered. On their special vegetarian menu they offer Sesame Ramen with Paneer (300 baht) that has a creamy sesame and peanut based broth.
In my opinion the Chim’s Ramen (335 baht) is the crowning jewel of their menu and I recommend ordering it with their double strength prawn broth. The bowl doesn’t look that big, but it’s a hearty soup that will leave you satisfied. Even the little things in this ramen will impress you. Take for example the halved hard boiled egg.
At many other ramen joints I’ve eaten at in Bangkok (there are many) even though the ramen might be delicious often the hard boiled egg tastes like it was made that morning, peeled, halved, and sat in a bowl on the prep line all day. This egg tastes like it was made to order just for this bowl of ramen. It’s noticeably fresh with a creamy yolk.
The Chim’s Ramen comes with an impressively large grilled prawn fresh from their family farm in Nakhon Pathom. But if you’re on a budget and don’t care about that, you can order a less Instagrammable (unfortunately not a word for Scrabble play) Prawn Soup Ramen (240 baht).
Another hearty ramen with a rich broth that you can get either double or triple strength is the Local Crab Ramen (385 baht). Made with the local mud crabs, this ramen is packed with big chunks of crab meat. The owner cautioned that the double and triple strength broths should only be approached by real mud crab enthusiasts as at this strength the broth can taste a bit “muddy”. But from my experience with this bowl, the normal strength is just fine–lots of crabby goodness without any muddiness.
Save room for dessert!
Chim Ramen has a few desserts on their menu to satisfy your sweet tooth afterwards. Some of them seem to suit the Thai tastebuds, and weren’t quite my cup of tea. But because of their uniqueness I’ll share them with you, dear reader. Maybe you’ll dig them…
Apple Miso Caramel
This dessert was one that I did dig. For me it was the perfect way to end the meal. The Apple Miso Caramel (145 baht) combines a scoop of vanilla ice cream topped with toasted nuts with an amazing sauce made of apples, caramel, and miso to give it just a touch of saltiness.
This would be my recommended dessert to those with a Western palate and preference. But if your palate is more refined and accepting of Thai desserts these next few dishes might be of interest to you…
Pandan custard with a bite!
A popular Thai dessert is a custard made with pandan leaves called sangkhaya that you dip bread into. This Wasabi Pandan Custard with Brioche (125 baht) is the same same but different. What is different is that this sangkhaya has a little wasabi kick to it, and the bread is a perfectly toasted buttery brioche.
Personally I’d rather have two slices of that bread with a thick layer of melty cheese between them. But to be fair I’m just not a fan of pandan custard (or pandan really). That being said, one of my friends was pretty enthused about this dessert and the special take Chim Ramen did with it so I feel it’s worth mentioning!
This C4 dessert explodes with sweetness!
There’s no need to alert the bomb squad. This C4 is safe to eat. The C4 (150 baht) dessert stands for corn, caramel, and cream cheese. It’s also meant for dipping that delicious brioche in. A word of warning though, this dessert is really, really sweet. There’s loads of flavor in this creamy dish, but on the sweetness scale it’s almost like guzzling a can of condensed sweetened milk. Sweet!
A chat with the owners…
Chim Ramen recently opened in Bangkok July 25, 2019. During our visit I had a chance to chat with one of the owners, Jan. Her boyfriend, Park, is the other owner. Jan operates the restaurant front, cheerfully chatting with guests, explaining the menu, and choreographing the service.
Park is the man behind the scenes in the kitchen. As mentioned in the Coconuts article, Park is the first person to introduce the Dali Lama to Thai food. The holy man was thankful for the new culinary experience but felt it was “a bit too spicy” for him. I’d wager that if Park had prepared for him his homemade paneer with truffle sauce Bangkok could expect regular visits from the Dali Lama.
Chim Ramen was created from Park’s desire for a different ramen. One he just couldn’t find amongst the many, many ramen houses in Bangkok. His father’s retirement project, a shrimp farm, inspired him to create an intensely flavorful broth and they rest as they say is history.
What’s in the jars?
The restaurant is decorated with many large glass jars of of fermenting goodies. You’ll see miso, shrimp paste, and even kombucha. Kombucha is available for 90 baht a glass but the flavors change depending on what batch is ready. During this visit we enjoyed apple kombucha. My money’s on roselle kombucha being the next batch. What’s interesting is that you’re not just looking at ingredients here. You’re literally looking at next year’s menu–it just hasn’t fermented yet.
Jan and Park are a lovely couple and what they’ve created with Chim Ramen’s menu is unique in Bangkok, and amazing to eat. If you’re wondering about the name, “chim” it’s a play on words. In Thai “chim” is loosely translated as “taste this” or “try this”. It also sounds similar to the way Thais pronounce the English word “shrimp”. If you’re a ramen enthusiast you need to visit and taste these shrimp!
I’m hungry. Where is it?
Chim Ramen is located on a small dead end side alley just off Sukhumvit Soi 33. It’s easily walkable from the Phrom Phong BTS station. But if you’re driving they have limited parking in front of the restaurant.
Though only open for a few months, they’ve become quite popular especially during lunch time. If you have a large group it’s best to call ahead or message them on their Facebook page.
I want to hear from you!
Should you decide to visit Chim Ramen I’d love to hear your feedback in the comment section below, directly to me, or via message on either the Chow Traveller Facebook page or Chow Traveller Instagram. However you choose, I’d love to hear from you!