Who doesn’t know Casa Ramen in Milan? Perhaps those who are not fond of ramen. Very small, recently renovated (with even fewer seats than before) it is known for the famous Japanese soup of Chinese origin by Luca Catalfamo.
Luca Catalfamo’s culinary adventure begins after he left to his brother the cleaning company he ran. He decides to accept an internship in his favorite restaurant in Milan, the Liberty, and then leave for America. In New York he works in many kitchens (all different restaurants) and in the East Village he discovers ramen, eating it for the first time at Ippudo (chain of Japanese ramen restaurants located all over the world). He is struck by it and over time he studies it and eats it consistently. He later moved to Sidney and then to London, where he worked at the Koya Bar (specialized in udon). Back in Milan he finally wants to open his ramen bar but before doing so he travels to Japan, to better understand the ingredients and the preparation. Found the place in the Isola area in Milan, he decides to propose his ramen, adapted to his taste and made with local ingredients: the first proposal on the menu is the tonkotsu ramen. In 2014 the managers of the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum come to dinner at Casa Ramen and appreciate Catalfamo’s personal interpretation, inviting him to open his Casa Luca corner in that museum, as the only foreigner. This surely was the consecration because from that moment in Milan nobody stopped talking about Casa Ramen.
Before coming here I had been at Casa Ramen Super (by Luca Catalfamo, his second opening in Milan) and I had found that ramen too far from the original Japanese, both in taste and in execution. For this reason I was not at all convinced that I wanted to try this cuisine, although appreciated by many people. But in the end I let myself be convinced. The restaurant is very small, very few seats and a very cold and bare environment (both in terms of furnishings and temperature). It is not possible to book, so it is mandatory to arrive before the opening if you do not want to stay outdoors on your feet forever.
From Casa Ramen everything is aimed at sharing: in the center of the room there is a large table where customers all eat together, on which wooden napkins and chopsticks are arranged in containers. The service is very courteous and fast. The menu is essential and refined, with fusion influences from China, Korea and Thailand. There are in fact the bao (pork, beef or vegetarian tartare), fresh kimchi, kakuni don (braised pork with egg yolk and rice) and karaage chicken (with the addition of mint, coriander, basil and matcha tea mayonnaise). The ramen, the restaurant’s strong point, are: king tonkotsu, miso on fire, power ramen (vegetarian), shoyu ramen and double chili pepper (with spicy chicken, without broth). There is the possibility of adding extra toppings: marinated egg, onsen egg, nori seaweed, mint, chashu, kaedama, hot bomb. Drinks include white and red wines, beer and sake.
It would be wrong to say that Casa Ramen ramen is authentic. From the choice of ingredients to the heaviness of the broth, everything here is much lighter and more Italianized. Certainly Catalfamo’s personal interpretation is less present than the dishes proposed by Casa Ramen Super, but we are talking about a dish heavily reworked according to Milanese tastes. Certainly noteworthy are the noodles, which I think are very good, made with 00 flour and semolina selected with the Grazioli bakery, as well as Venegoni’s meat (tasty and soft) in Boffalora. Here the ramen is objectively beautiful, refined, cured in the setting. In short, it strikes the eye. The taste is equally delicate, degreased. Softened. I recommend this restaurant to companies of friends who want to dine early to get away from the taste of having tasted Italian ramen appreciated by the Japanese of Yokohama.