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Voyages: Water & Bone

Voyages: Water & Bone

Halifax has a new noodle contender in town and its got Chef Jamie MacAulay leading the charge. In the north end, on Charles Street, is where you’ll find Water & Bone – a dedicated noodle bar that MacAulay says was designed so the staff would enjoy the atmosphere just as much as the customers. It’s chill. It’s like an Izakaya except with a rock n’ roll playlist bumping everything from Black Sabbath to Radiohead tunes from the speakers in the corner of the room.



With an all-star team of bartenders cranking out craft cocktails, the drinks are taken as seriously as the food, and that’s pretty cool. Today, they start me off with a Sake Bomb: a cold pint of beer with a shot of sake dropped into the glass for a little extra punch. I’ve heard good things about 2 Crows Brewing Co.’s new Pecadillo Oat Pilsner, so I decide to go with that for my base.

Next up is Paul’s Boutique: a simultaneously deep-bodied and refreshing combination of Maker’s Mark, yuzu, egg white, and sweet green tea syrup. While the egg white adds an element of creaminess and a pleasantly frothy texture to the cocktail, the yuzu is what really draws me in. The flavour profile is extremely unique with tinges of sweet, sour, and bitter that fall somewhere in between mandarin, grapefruit, and bitter orange.


On to the appetizers!

First up, we have the Pork and Scallop Dumplings: a row of golden brown packages filled with juicy meat and topped with scallions ($8.50). This dish may be simple, but trust me; you won’t be able to stop licking your fingers. As with all good dumplings, there’s a nice contrast of crispy and chewy depending on where you bite, as well as a savoury flavour that pairs well with the tangy dipping sauce. The tips of the dumpling have a nice light crunch to them while the center melts away delicately in your mouth. It’s also got a perfect balance of seafood and pork flavours where neither pulls and tugs at you, but both shine brightly. It does what an appetizer does – gets you ready for the meal ahead.


Next to land on my table is the Duck Pancakes ($9.50), and boy are they are an inviting sight. The dish consists of two back-to-back pancakes enveloping the rest of the ingredients: ginger crackling, cucumber, green onion, and of course, roasted duck. This thing is a powder keg of flavour that lights as soon as it hits your taste buds. As the airiness of the pancake greets you, a barrage of crunchy, salty, and sweet quickly follows it. On top of it all, the cucumber and onions lend a subtle freshness that brings it all back to a state of balance. This has got to be one of the most interesting (and pleasing) appetizers I’ve had in a while.

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With all the appetizers now out of the way, we can focus on the reason we are here – ramen! The first bowl on the agenda today is the Tonkotsu (or pork bone broth) Ramen ($16.00), which is filled with fresh noodles and comes topped with braised free-range pork chashu, fried egg, fried leeks, and mushrooms. Gooey yolk fuses into my broth as I pop the egg open with my chopsticks. The fried leeks, with a hickory-stick like texture (but not quite as dense), add a nice crunchy nuance to this mostly soft dish, while the mushrooms add substance – something to bite on. This bowl is definitely the most authentic of the bunch in terms of the use of traditional Japanese ramen ingredients.

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Then there’s the Vegetable Miso Ramen ($15.50) with smoked miso broth, mushrooms, seasonal vegetables, RiverView Herbs’ seasonal greens, sesame, hand-foraged Terrence Bay dulse, and a salty marinated egg on top. Both fresh and earthy, I liken this bowl to the feeling of waking up next to a campfire that has just been extinguished by a light drizzle (overly descriptive descriptions courtesy of our lead photographer Tibor and I). Despite the substantial flavour complexities this dish has got going on, it feels much lighter in character than the tonkotsu.


Last up is the ‘not-for-the-faint-of-heart’ Spicy Pork Miso Ramen ($16.00). Rich ground Nova Scotia pork, spicy miso tare, roasted garlic paste, green onion, pork bone broth, and a marinated egg unite to form an in-your-face combination of flavours that feel like a firecracker going off in your mouth (an outrageously delicious firecracker that keeps you going back for more and more). There’s definitely a reason why the word ‘spicy’ is in the title. On a side note, this bowl is a natural pairing with the Paul’s Boutique cocktail, as the egg white and yuzu do a great job of neutralizing the heat.


Whether you are a vegetarian, a carnivore, a heat addict, or just a person who loves a good bowl of noodles, the creative folks at Water and Bone have something to offer for each and every palate. While ramen might not be the healthiest thing to eat every day, it is definitely one of the most enjoyable, and the feeling of utter relaxation–grogginess even–following a bowl of the good stuff, comes second to none. Chef MacAulay and team, consider your new Ramen joint Starving Sailor approved!





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