That ramen in Milan is a fashion is now a fact: there really is something for all tastes, from the most authentic (as far as possible ...), to the most imaginative, this dish has really bewitched the Lombard capital.
Among the restaurants that offer revisited ramen there is certainly Zazà Ramen, open since 2013 in Brera.
The place, as it is easy to guess, takes its name from the famous character de Lupin III, Inspector Koichi Zenigata nicknamed Zazà, famous for his passion for cup noodles (cheap instant ramen, I wrote about it in the article on Japanese foods in manga and anime).
At the head of this project is the Danish chef Brendan Brecht, whose training boasts experiences in London, Paris and Milan at the master Gualtiero Marchesi. After dealing with the opening of Italian restaurants in Japan, chef Brecht has opened a space in Milan where you can enjoy ramen, sake and delicious appetizers.
But the experience at Zazà Ramen is not limited only to food: chef Brecht is the son of collectors of contemporary art, his strong aesthetic sense can be found both in the preparations of the kitchen and in the important design choices with an exquisitely northern flavor. European. Windows that welcome natural light, large tables that invite sharing and installations by international artists (including Tetsuro Shimizu, Ayako Nakamiya and Thomas Berra) characterize the restaurant.
Since chef David Chang opened Momofuku in the USA (and was awarded with Michelin stars), Milan has also been the protagonist of an important re-interpretation of traditional ramen with the addition of intriguing appetizers to the menu: in this vein Zazà Ramen is fully fits together with the famous Casa Ramen and Casa Ramen Super.
Revisited ramen is obviously the protagonist here. Here you have the opportunity to choose between soft wheat flour or soba noodles (both made on site, in the basement you can admire the majestic noodles machine purchased in Japan from the open laboratory) and the basic condiment between miso and shoyu.
Among the optional ramen (including a vegetarian, with meatballs and vegetables, with beef tataki or marinated salmon) I chose the shoyu chashu ramen with cabbage, mushrooms and negi. The broth is not greasy at all (for my personal taste it is too clear and savory), the wheat noodles are fresh and it feels, the meat is tasty.
I also tried the only donburi on menu, served with spicy minced meat, cabbage, caramelized onion and shoga goods: ginger is really very abundant, but overall it is a tasty dish and certainly different from the usual donburi.
The zensai (appetizers) are very good. Among those tried the aubergines with sweet miso sauce and katsuobushi (delicate and perfect to accompany with a glass of sake or a good wine) and gyoza which, despite the dough being purchased and not freshly prepared, are still good - I recommend dipping them in soy sauce mixed with rice vinegar. The other appetizers are also very tempting, like the sweet and sour Hokkaido squash or turnip greens with shichimi togarashi and stewed daikon.
The beverage list is very interesting: you can choose sake by the glass, by the bottle or even as a tasting (the bartender at the counter will explain all the characteristics of each product), but also wines, various oriental-inspired cocktails and Japanese gins or beers. There is no shortage of desserts like the hyper inflated matcha tiramisu or something more sophisticated like the panna cotta with azuki and tonka bean.
What is my overall opinion on Zazà Ramen? Assuming that what is served with ramen has very little to do with it, the experience is all in all positive. Having tried restaurants in Milan that offer the same type of cuisine, and having been hopelessly disappointed, I had many qualms about it, but they were ignored. The dishes here are treated, the dining room and kitchen staff is prepared, polite, punctual and attentive. Although I ate there for lunch in full rush hour, I can say I was pampered.
Honestly, it is not one of my favorite restaurants, but I can say that I ate well anyway and that I spent a figure in line with what was ordered, the service received and the area in which the restaurant is located.
If you want to get out of the comfort zone of the classic traditional ramen, Zazà Ramen is the only place in Milan that I recommend to experiment, especially if you can book a seat at the counter.