A bowl of ramen on offer at Kyu Bistro. (Mike Green)
Calvin and Melody Truong may not be Japanese, but that does
not mean they can't make a mean bowl of ramen.
"We've had a lot of Japanese customers and they've loved it here... they've said that they definitely see the love and attention that we put into our broths." says Calvin Truong.
"And now they've come back several times," Melody Truong interjects. "So that must be a good sign."
The young couple, both just in their mid-20s, opened up Kyu Bistro just a couple weeks ago in a strip mall at 185 Isabel St., and has been pumping out bowls of pungent, delicious soup -- and some tasty izakaya and robata dishes -- non-stop since.
"There is nothing like it out here," he says. "We had a friend out there [in Vancouver] whose dad used to own a ramen shop in Japan. So we learned some things from him and kind of made some styles of our own, and we brought it over here."
Being a former Vancouverite, and a devout ramen enthusiast myself, I'm glad he did, as the spicy miso ramen at Kyu has been the most authentic bowl of the stuff I've found so far in this city.
The broth is reduced for at least 12 hours, creating a rich pork stock which he mixes with a dashi broth (a fish stock made from bonito flakes) and chicken stock, to create a more pungent take on a traditional ramen broth. The results are a complex soup base that he builds upon for their four different kinds of ramen.
And how has the Winnipeg audience reacted to such an acquired-taste-sounding soup? Well just take one look at their lunch rush and you'll see why the Truongs have had to increase stock production three-fold in the past couple weeks.
"It's a little bit more robust and has some more interesting flavours to it, and so people were kind of uneasy about it at first," Calvin Truong explains. "But people are really starting to catch on, and really starting to like it."
Kyu also does some pretty good takes on izakaya staples (think Japanese small plates meant to be washed down with cold beer and hot sake), like their chicken karaage (pieces of fried chicken thighs served with wasabi mayo) and agedashi tofu (crispy tofu in a sweet dashi sauce).
The couple hopes to get a liquor license soon, to make the izakaya dishes that much more authentic. But until then, patrons will have to be satisfied in washing it all down with tea or water.