A few weeks ago we got a recommendation for the Hotaru Japanese Restaurant in Gwangalli. I’d read some borderline pornographic reviews on Koreabridge of the miso ramen, so I decided I probably ought to check it out. I wasn’t terribly excited about the prospects of spending almost 7,000 won on a bowl of ramen. To be honest, I hate ramen. I’ve always hated it. Prior to Hotaru, my greatest ramen experiences had mostly involved laying in bed, hungover, too lazy to go down two flights of steps to the family mart, breaking apart and eating dried ramen noodles right out of the packet.
Hotaru’s miso ramen was definitely differnet from the typical Korean version. The miso broth is thick, savory and flavorful, as opposed to the Korean styles that are watery, spicy and even spicier. There are also two decent sized chunks of pork mixed in with the fresh noodles that provide enough substance to consider it a full meal. The restaurant setting is casual and comfortable. INSIDER TIP: Ask for an egg (for an extra 500 won) to go on top!
More expert reviews rave of the authenticity of Hotaru’s ramen. I’ll defer to them on that point. I’ve had ramen in Japan once, during my first ever trip abroad. I hadn’t eaten it in about fifteen years at that point and I was still acquiring a taste for miso. I recall being pleasantly surprised, but still eating it more out of novelty. I’d honestly thought up until then that asians eating ramen was an American stereotype.
I’ve learned much since then. No, I still won’t list ramen among my top foods, but yes, Hotaru’s miso ramen is the best I’ve ever eaten. It has a taste that sticks with you and makes you crave it. Despite having gone there over a week ago, I’m still able to conjure up the taste in my mouth when I think about it. In other words, this stuff is addictive. If you’re already a fan of ramen, you’ll probably love it. If you aren’t a fan of ramen, it is good enough to make you reconsider your position and certainly has a taste that makes you want to go back as soon as possible.
Geumjeongsan subway exit 3. Walk to the beach, then turn right at the beach road. Go straight one block until you come to a road that forks off to the right. Follow that road almost to the end of the block. Hotaru is on the right, on the first floor. There used to be a Popeye’s chicken across the street from it (it’s torn up now – I think a Lotteria will eventually go on that corner). It can be easy to miss, (we did 2 laps around the block looking) but it’s worth it when you find it.
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