This is a story of how places become victims of their own success and magic dissolving over a cold chicken.
I still remember the first time I went to Karma Ramen. We flew in to Vienna at 7:20 flight from Warsaw, with a massive hangover from my brother’s 18 y.o. party. Truth be told, we were actually still drunk during the flight. Hangover came later. After very quiet day on the sofa we decided we need some extra power to bring us back to life. Ramen.
The local, located right by Kettenbruckegasse metro stop is rather small, dark and cosy. When you enter you instantly see cooks busying around the kitchen, working on what seems an endless line of ramen bowls. Piers was right. Ramen that day was exactly what I needed. My soul and my body instantly started to radiate happiness.
After that visit we came back regularly. Not super often, but it was just a staple in our winter outings. In summer we would go to one of the nearby places with won tons or something Asian, but winter always called for Ramen and brought us back to Karma Ramen.
Today I was due for my 2nd jab of rabies vaccination. As I was under the weather for a whole day I whined a bit and persuaded Piers that what I absolutely need after painful jab and half a day of feeling miserable is a bowl of hot Ramen. He did not need a lot of persuasion and we booked a table.
After arrival it turned out the place got even more popular. They squeezed more tables inside. So many, that in fact they could as well put one big common table for all the guests as the any idea of the intimacy can be forgotten the moment you walk through.
The amount of tables also makes it quite tight for the waiting staff to walk around, and take or bring orders to customers. We were sitting in the corner but I guess it can feel a bit uneasy to have a waitress going behind your back with a bowl of hot ramen. One false movement and it can turn into a nasty experience.
We are boring people so we both ordered Karma Dragon 2.0: chili-yuzu ramen with juicy chicken filet, ajitama, sugar snap peas, lotus root, and scallions. Soda Zitrone was good, plum wine on the rocks too, and we enjoyed the Edamame that we’ve ordered as starters as this is simply something you can’t destroy. Nothing food related was even hinting that at the end of this evening the magic we always felt around the place will be gone.
Make spicy spicy again
Our Ramen arrived and I had my first blob of disappointment – the chicken was cold. Not even room temperature, just cold. I remedied that by immersing it in Ramen for some more time. Still, I believe this just should not happen.
Spiciness is another point where we both had severe doubts. Ok, Piers is super resistant and not a lot can make him say “oh, it is really spicy”. But I am a bit more on the normal side and I felt nothing. If you put a flame next to an item on the menu, make it actually spicy.
What didn’t help the overall impression is how watery the broth felt: it was lacking the fattiness and depth of a good ramen. It didn’t linger on the tongue, made no real impression that you would cherish later.
By no means it was a catastrophic meal. It was decent. I ate everything and indeed felt a bit better. But the magic is gone. Do I feel tempted to go back any time soon? Not that sure. In the language of Google reviews stars it would be a 3 today.
We paid 42 euro for Edamame, 2 Ramen, spritzer, lemon soda and plum wine.
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