“Irasshaimase!” Something that we hear as we enter Yokozuna Yangon Japanese noodles (Ramen) shop or any other Japanese restaurant in town. According to sumo culture, yokozuna is the highest rank you can achieve as a wrestler. While we don’t know why the owners chose the name, we were expecting a big lunch. A rather easy place to stop by, get to, or stumble upon; Yokozuna Yangon resides on Mahar Bandoola Road—surrounded by bars and beer stations aplenty. Nevertheless, the storefront—with its red nobori or narrow vertical flags/banners and red lanterns—is guaranteed to catch your eye, especially at night.
The inside may be small, but it was cozy enough to sit around for a few hours; that is if you have nothing else to do. We chose a quiet corner where we took off our shoes and made do with a set of seat cushions and a short-legged table. It may be hard to describe in words but here’s a picture to show for it.
Greeted with a wet towel—which was cold—and a chilled glass of Ocha, a Japanese Tea which was obvious that they knew what they were doing. Whereas my partner had ordered rather quickly, I was in a conflict of whether to order something exotic or just stick with my usual choice of Tonkotsu and extra noodles. Finally, I decided to go for the Extra Spicy Spicy Ramen (7,300 Kyats)—like the spice connoisseur I am—to pair with my partner’s rather mild Oyakodon Chicken and Egg Rice Bowl (6,800 Kyats). Looking at our provided condiments; we couldn’t help but notice a “No Outside Food.” Whereas it may be taboo for most countries but in Myanmar, most of us eat our lunch boxes—and many of us eat our lunch boxes in restaurants.
Arriving first was the Oyakodon, which looked almost fluffy and the taste was light but also fishy influenced by the dashi-based sauce they’ve drizzled on top. The egg, the main highlight of the dish was creamy and savory. It was perfect—not too strong and overpowering—just the right proportion of meat, rice, and dressing. Yet we recommend you dig in as soon as possible because it doesn’t taste nice when cold.
The Extra Spicy Spicy Ramen came in a big bowl, and it was not the spicy I expected; more heat rather than kick. Spice levels aside, the broth was rich and satisfying, more and more rewarding with every spoon. The noodles were al dente and had a certain chew to them.
Although I would’ve wanted one more slice of Chashu or Braised Pork Belly, I realize I would have gone overboard with the budget as this was rather a higher quality slice of meat. Among other toppings such as pickled bamboo stripes, exactly two sheets of nori, leeks, and chives; what stood out most was the Shoyu Tamago or Egg Marinated in Soy Sauce. While these may be common toppings, I’d like to stress the fact that it was one of the best bowls of ramen I’ve ever had—in Myanmar.
Having another glass of Ocha which proved to be a great palate cleanser, I decided to exercise my taste buds with a fleet of gyoza dumplings (3,500 Kyats). Most gyoza tend to get soggy outside with the pork stuffing getting mushy inside; however, the recipe at Yokozuna demands crisp and freshness—something I appreciated as its hard to find good gyoza. The only let-down was the number of dumplings offered to us—five amazing parcels of chewy umami pork, some of which were ruined by my soy sauce and chili oil dipping sauce.
In conclusion, Yokozuna is an underrated place. As proven in this review, they have one of the best ramen Yangon has to offer, as well as many other dishes. The furniture and composition of the whole restaurant will make you feel comfortable and at home. An honest, no-nonsense place to enjoy a few beers with your friends or just slurp a warm bowl of ramen by yourself on a cold rainy Rangoon night.
Address: Corner of Mahar Bandula and Bo Myat Htun Street, in front of Tun Commercial Bank, Botahtaung Township, Yangon
Tel: 09 777 445009
Hours: 11:30am – 2pm, 5pm – 10m (Closed Sundays)