When I think of restaurant areas, the downtown part of Bank Street isn’t the place that comes to mind first. To me, Bank Street equals great bakeries and a long string of coffee shops—not great food. But on a cold Friday night, my favourite foodie partner and I didn’t want to walk too far so we ended up at Taste Ramen+Fusion, a new restaurant that took the place of the old Ichibei.
From the outside, the restaurant looked very cute and intimate—not to mention warm. A round window looking out on Bank Street allowed us to peek inside and gauge the plate of the customers. “Looks okay, no?” “I think so.”
Inside, the place was surprisingly quiet noise-wise. Bank Street is a major artery in Ottawa and both the sidewalk and the road are always busy. There were a few customers but no TV or music, which is fairly unusual for Asian restaurants. We sat by the window and enjoyed both the view on the street and the peace and quiet.
The restaurant is centered around Japanese Ramen with a variety of other Asian dishes, including Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese. The menu wasn’t big but featured quite a few options, including an entire page dedicated to vegetarians. I ordered the vegetarian pad thai noodles and my friend the Buddha’s delight with a bowl of steamed rice. We also asked for lemongrass tea.
While we both ordered the same tea, two small teapots were brought. I tried to pour it right away but it hadn’t infused. We put it aside and tried again a few minutes later. It tasted good but the water was lukewarm and the tea wasn’t strong enough.
The food was served a few minutes later. I had to ask for chopsticks (I can’t eat pad thai with a fork!) and was given Japanese chopsticks, with a pointed end. Real fusion, especially with the waitresses and the cook speaking Chinese to each other’s!
So, the food verdict… Not bad. The portions were very generous. We noted the heart-shaped carrot slice in my friend’s plate and the generous spoonful of peanuts on my noodles. The tofu used in both of our dish was very good, it soaked the sauce and flavour (although it was burning hot at first). My flat-rice noodles were well-cooked but I didn’t find the sauce that tasty—it lacked a little bit of spice.
The bill was brought as we were still working on finishing the tea. I didn’t feel guilty at all for lingering a few more minutes, considering it was still early and that no one was waiting for a table, but I hate when you can see the waitress eyeing you, ready to jump on the change. That said, I’m aware that it’s probably my French upbringing, most Canadians like to have prompt service.
My pad thai and tea cost less than $15.00. Not bad, especially considering the prime location.
Will I be back? Maybe. Taste Ramen+Fusion was good but not exceptional and I can find better Asian dish in Chinatown, a few blocks away.
- A nice location in the downtown core.
- A quiet atmosphere with a good view on Bank Street.
- The kind of restaurant I wouldn’t mind going in by myself with a book.
- $2.00 for a small pot of tea, really? Give people the option of buying a bigger pot to share at least! In most Asian restaurants, Jasmine tea is free or at most $2.00 for a large pot.
- The tea was very forgettable, not strong enough and lukewarm.
At a glance
197 Bank Street (Centretown/Downtown)