Nobuya is a one-man ramen operation where the broth changes daily on a whim.
Their slogan is “worth the wait,” because the fact that everything is made by just one person means it can take hours to get each original bowl of soup out to every individual customer.
It’s almost like a cross between a sports bar and a ramen shop. Jerseys hang from the ceiling and a hockey game plays on TV in a corner.
Pots bubble away on the stove in full view of the dining room, across from a framed Rolling Stones logo in Nobuya’s signature red and blue colour scheme.
Karaage ($12) doesn’t come out at lightning speed either, but it should certainly stave off an appetite while waiting for ramen. The Japanese-style fried chicken is topped with a spicy soy mayo, togarashi flakes, fiery pink pickled ginger, furikake and green onion.
One giant pot of a dark golden broth base is made per day, chicken bones cooked down for three hours, pork bones for 10. Today’s broth also has sweet and aromatic carrot, onion, garlic and ginger, plus mackerel and their heads for a subtly fishy, salty note.
The broth is strained into belly-sized bowls, followed by the perfect amount of pork shoulder fat to enrich the soup rather than making it too oily.
House pastes are added to create different styles of ramen, and though the noodles are not made here, they provide a perfectly-textured vehicle to soak up the soup’s flavour.
A spicy miso style is the most expensive at $17, all others $16. All are filled out with thick slices of pork, and garnished with typical toppings similar to the karaage: pickled ginger and green onion, along with sesame seeds, sheets of salty nori, a pile of potent minced garlic and togarashi.
The Tokyo shoyu and tonkotsu shoyu styles are similar, both flavouring pork broth with soy. Essentially, the clearer Tokyo is heavier on the soy, heavier on the pork for the darker tonkotsu.
Best-selling tonkotsu really is worth the wait, layers of flavour revealing themselves in the depths of the cloudy soup, fishiness, spice, salt and fat creating a rich, multifaceted harmony.
To drink, grab a glass bottle of melon, orange, blueberry or original Ramune ($3.50) with its signature marble you have to pop into the neck in order to drink it. Described on the menu as Sprite-like, it’s perhaps a bit more sugary and less citrusy.
The place is named for owner Nobuyuki Toyoshima, but in order to spot this place look out for a sign that says “Japanese Fast Food-Ya!” seeing as a little sandwich board reading “Nobuya” is more difficult to spot.