Just got back from an excursion downtown with my daughter. After a wonderful couple of hours at Enchanted Island we went to the new "C4" restaurant in the Clarendon Hotel. We have been wanting to find a good bowl of ramen for a long time and had some hope this might be the place. Their menu says they are "Simple. Humble. Pure." Unfortunately, I don't think they've got it quite yet...
The restaurant space is very hip. My daughter really liked the display of Japanese pop-art toys in the middle of the room. They have some limited outdoor seating but the view of a parking garage isn't the most appealing. We sat down and ordered edamame for $3, tofu wedges for $3, the "Sanre Tan Ramen Bowl" for $7 and the "Okonomiyaki," a Japanese savory pancake for $8.
The edamame were dried out to the point where they looked unappealing but still tasted ok. They had salted them very lightly and also squeezed lime juice on them. Maybe that is normal in a lot of places but it seemed weird to me.
The tofu wedges consisted of about 6 rectangular sticks of firm tofu dredged in something like corn starch and deep fried, on a plate with a sweet chili sauce on the side. They looked like french toast sticks from burger king. Completely plain on the plate. Again, very unappealing visually but they tasted ok but bland. The sauce was sweet and not very spicy, almost like a thin jelly.
The pancake is served with a variety of add-ins, kind of like ordering an omelette at a breakfast place. We chose mushrooms, corn, and crispy noodles. Other options were fried egg, chicken, pork, spicy shrimp. We both liked it a lot. It tasted just like the Korean pajong pancake we've had at other places, except that C4 tops it with an aoli which tasted very good but I can't believe is "pure" Japanese! Anyway, this was the best part of the meal - nothing too fancy but good.
The ramen was really not good. I was hoping for a simple, traditional bowl of ramen but they offer a hot and spicy broth over "soba" noodles with pork, ginger and spinach. The pork wasn't the slices of roast pork I expected but some kind of crispy shredded pile of pork that tasted pretty good. There was no spinach I could find but plenty of ginger. I'm not an expert on Japanese noodles, but aren't soba and ramen noodles different? Anyway, I'm not sure that was correct, but the worst thing was the broth - it was dark like espresso and thick, incredibly salty and peppery. I like spicy foods, but this was not edible. I told them I couldn't eat it and they took it back. The manager explained they were still working with new staff. Anyway, they graciously took it off the bill, thank goodness. That was definitely the low point of the meal.
Overall, I'm not sure I would try this place again. I liked the prices and atmosphere, but they didn't seem very committed to getting those dishes right. But of course they just opened a few weeks ago.
In case anyone was wondering about the sushi, the "sushi" section of the menu only lists 5 items, all rolls: California, Philly, C4 Roll (roasted peppers, cream cheese and cilantro with habenoro salsa - yuck), spicy tuna, and veggie.
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