When I recently asked the land of social media who to go to for an at-home ramen fix one word kept coming up: Kodawari.
I’d heard rumblings of this set up before lockdown 2.0 after successful pop ups at the likes of Caneat in Stirchley, and it was the recommendation of several people (whose opinions I value more than most) that swung it. Confident I’d found what I was looking for I blindly ordered a delivery before ending up in conversation on Instagram with the chap behind the noodles. It turns out owner James and I have far too much in common (he and my husband come from the same small seaside town) and we might have had the best idea ever for a future pop up when the world isn’t on fire anymore. But that’s story for another day…
A bit of background first. Engineer James originates from sunny Cleethorpes (“up the Mariners” etc) and found his love of cooking through his grandma and travel. After a life-changing trip to Japan and some years working in kitchens in the UK, Japanophile James developed an obsession with ramen and the perfectionism required to make it amazing. After Covid shafted him on the day job front (relatable) he decided to return to cooking full time and pursue his passion for broth-based grub, and Bromsgrove’s best export, Kodawari, was born.
Back to now and I’m lying on the sofa having devoured my delivery that was probably able to feed two. Sorry Ian. The premise of a Kodawari kit is simple: James does all the hard work making the broth (it literally takes hours and more effort than I can bring myself to ever try again) and your delivered pack contains all the ingredients you need to finish off the ramen at home. It arrives chilled and the box includes simple instructions – which is just as well because I have no patience when I’m hungry.
After minimal effort on my part (I basically crisped up the pork and heated up a few pans of liquid) a real feast came together, starting with the spicy miso ramen. Chashu pork is soft and perfectly fatty, sitting proudly on a bed of rye noodles made to a secret recipe that sounds like a lot of effort – I was both in awe and exhausted when he showed me the Excel spreadsheet it requires. The chicken and dashi broth itself is glorious. All umami and tongue tingles from a teasing kick of spice, I got my face right in the bowl to make sure I didn’t miss any of it. It’s meaty, layered and takes a steaming turd on anything I could even consider making myself. Being a man of the north I’m sure James will appreciate that poetic sentiment like he would a proper chippy tea on Meggies beach.
Sides shouldn’t be overlooked, with moreish pork gyoza (in collab with Blow Water) and crispy karaage giving me all the feels. Again all easy to re-heat from your Covid prison cell. Boneless chicken thigh pieces are triple fried and are pretty much perfect dipped in the accompanying tangy yuzu and chilli mayonnaise. It won’t make you thin but it will make you happy, and frankly as this bin fire of a year continues that’s all I really care about anymore.
Portions are pretty generous and each ingredient and window dressing, no matter how small, clearly considered and worthy of its place in the pack. Ramen kits start at £10 per portion with sides coming in at around a fiver. Delivery is available on Friday and Saturday for only a few quid and covers all of Birmingham. There’s limited amounts of everything so best to order early in the week for a weekend delivery.
Disclosure: I paid for my ramen kit and all words and photos belong to me. Prices correct at time of publication. Follow Bite Your Brum on Instagram for daily posts and stories.