I love ramen. I love all sorts of noodles. Ramen. Won ton mein. Pho. Laksa.
I love all types of ramen. Shio. Shoyu. All broths. Even tonkotsu.
Then the foodies discovered ramen. Even Food and Wine. Those bastiches what almost got Molotov’d by me years ago by making snide (and kinda racist) comments about ramen in some article about fine dining in Tokyo.
But it was all about tonkotsu broth.
Which, as I said, is absolutely fine except it is the equivalent of drinking an entire bowl of sausage gravy and forgetting about the chicken fried steak.
So now every restaurant serves nothing but tonkotsu broth. Oh sure, they have a “vegan” option with miso. But they ruin a good thing by sticking kale and arugula in it.
If i wanted a salad, I’d have ordered it along with my chicken friend ‘effin’ steak.
I’m in Portland, Not The Ramen Capitol of The World, Oregon, but it’s hard to find a spot that isn’t tonkatsu based.
Which is, as you state, delicious… but…
Also, have a thread going, Food Thread!! and this would tie in nice…
Lots of good ramen choices around here… I feel like I am only ever let down by the fine dining ramen that tries a little too hard to be gourmet. I am a little more partial to the korean ramen places that give me a seemingly bottomless supply of kimchi with my ramen.
It’s so nice to get good ramen in Japan for a reasonable cost. It’s not fetishized like it is by some in the West. It’s just a good snack or quick meal. Ippudo and Santouka are not as good abroad as they are in Japan. At Ippudo NYC, a bowl is now $18-20, and that doesn’t include chashu ($6) or tamago ($3). Absurd.
Valid rant - the overfocus on tonkotsu as the be-all-and-end-all of ramen dishes is super tiresome; a sad byproduct of the popularization of the dish.
I’m fortunate enough to live in a city that has an overabundance of ramen joints - some of which are shockingly close to proper old-country ramen stalls, and I’ve got my favourites that I frequent when I can. There’s one little one that does a Shio-Negi bowl that is an absolutely phenomenal way to get your allium fix; there’s at least 3/4 cup of chives piled on top of it. They also do one with black garlic as the primary base for the tare - big umami bomb, that one.
I love Korean food and spicy stuff. But I am a complete wimp when it comes to kimchi ramen. Dunno why since I love a spicy bowl of champon.
I shop at Korean markets a lot. I think they even put Japan to shame when it comes to instant ramen/rameon. I also discovered Korean instant ramen with air baked noodles. No nasty palm oil and a fraction of the calories.
The good news for me is I live in Los Angeles. There are still decent old school places in Little Tokyo and Torrance/Gardena. Variety isn’t dead, it’s just having a really bad headache.
The bad news for me is that it is nigh impossible for me to get to those places.
With regards to tonkotsu broth - don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate the stuff but yeah, it’s overpopularized. That said, I absolutely love tsukemen, which is a bowl of plain cooked ramen served without broth. You get a bowl of (hopefully piping hot) tonkotsu broth and you dip the noodles in it and slurp away.
Master: First, caress the surface with the chopstick tips
Master: To express affection
Student: I see…
Master: Then poke the pork
Student: Eat it first?
Master: No. Just caress it with the chopsticks, then gently pick it up and dip it into the soup. Apologize to the pork , by saying… “See you soon…”
I think we’re cut from the same noodle-pervert cloth; tsukemen is one of my favourites as well. Going into summer, a hayashi chuuka is always a refeshing chilled treat. You should make the trek over to Little Tokyo or Torrence/Gardena asnd see if you can scare up a bowl if you haven’t had it before.
Hayashi Chuuka is a favorite of my wife and girls. I keep a stash of uncooked ramen in the freezer and we bust it out on hot days. It’s a great improv dish - we use whatever we find randomly in the fridge to make toppings.