Friday, January 24, 2014

More Ramen rambling......

Shoyu Ramen from Nagi Ramen. Photo by Brian Oh
You cannot be interested in Japanese cuisine without learning something about Ramen noodles - something beyond the obvious stuff such as the fact they keep many college students alive; entire websites are devoted to them and there are countless ramen devotee foodies of the most serious kind, writing and rating ramen shops and products online. I've been wading through mountains of information about the broth construction, noodle extrusion, topping arrays, the ins and outs of noodle bowls, insider tips for ordering and lists of the best ramen shops in Kyoto and Tokyo.

I'm developing more and more respect for the subtleties of this product. Here's an interesting website - one of the more lauded ramen establishments.

Web site of Ichiran.

Many things distinguish the Ichiran ramen from others but here are a couple of points that interested me:

  • Their green onions are grown in a fertilizer made from re-cycled pork bones spent after producing the broth.
  • They use "special water" controlled by special pipes and purifiers, delicate and soft to the stomach.
Here's a good description by Brian Oh of the unique dining experience at Ichiran from at Serious Eats: 

Tonkotsu Ramen from Ichiran (Fukuoka)
For the last real meal of my trip and my 10th bowl of ramen, I headed to the basement of Canal City to Ichiran. Ichiran is different in that it's not a standard restaurant. Ordering is done by filling out a slip of paper and selecting the level of richness and oiliness of your broth, the firmness of your noodles, and various other options. You then proceed to a tiny cubicle where you pass your order through a small window. A minute or two later, the curtain pulls up and your ramen is placed in front of you. You don't see a single person the entire process. The idea is to be able to enjoy your ramen in peace. Tranquility aside, I ordered my ramen rich and oily with soft noodles and it was spectacular. Extremely flavorful (because I ordered it that way) and a small dollop of Ichiran's special chili sauce gives it a nice kick. A fitting cap to my gastronomical tour around Japan.

Individual booths. Slurp Away!!!

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