I’ve avoided making any food posts so far because I was afraid I would fall into the trap of becoming another foodie blog. However, I think I’ve gotten things off the ground sufficiently to take a chance.
My wife and I had dinner last night at Hokkaido Ramen Santouka in Harvard Square and loved it. It’s an international chain with a couple of locations here in the Boston area. First up, I had a bottle of Ramune soda. The gimmick of Ramune is that the bottle is sealed with a glass marble in the neck of the bottle. You have to push the marble down using the special plastic cap. This is the bottle I had:
You can sort of make out the indentations in the bottle’s neck in this picture. The waitress gave me a straw because if you try to drink from the bottle by tipping it back, the marble tends to block the flow of the liquid. The soda itself was a candy-sweet strawberry flavor, so nothing very remarkable there.
The ramen was superior. We’ve been on the ramen bandwagon for a while, checking out different ramen joints around town, and I don’t think I’ve had better anywhere else. I had shoyu broth and Bridget had spicy miso, but all of their soups are based on tonkotsu stock — the rich pork stock that takes eighteen hours to make. Other places around town offer tonkotsu, but do not use it as a base for the other typical ramen broths. Shoyu means the broth is flavored with soy sauce, but you can see that the soup was still opaque and glistening with pork fat. The cha-shiu pork belly was quite lean for pork belly and sliced very thin. Mine did not come with egg, though Bridget’s did. Her spicy miso broth was spicy enough for us; other places really ramp up the heat. She ordered a combo, so she also got some gyoza and ANOTHER soft-boiled egg.
My only complaint about the restaurant was the noise level. Way too noisy. I simply do not understand why restaurant operators think noisy is a good atmosphere. It ruins the experience every time.
I have not tried my hand at making tonkotsu stock at home yet. Maybe when the colder weather returns, I might try making it some weekend. I’ve done shoyu and miso broths which just use dashi and the appropriate flavorings (soy, white miso). We’re lucky enough to have an H-Mart nearby where we can get all the ingredients: kombu, bonito flakes, fresh ramen noodles, miso paste, etc. In the Internet age, though, it isn’t hard to find them online if you don’t have an Asian supermarket. Here’s my most recent effort:
It’s too bad that most Americans think of those nasty 5-for-a-buck instant noodles when they think of ramen. Homemade ramen is such a comfort food and an easy point of entry to Japanese cuisine. Hopefully the fad for ramen will settle in with the public the way sushi has and become part of the regular offerings in most cities.