Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ramen Ramen

Up until about 10 years ago, my idea of ramen was a rectangular brick of MSG-laden, curly, dried noodles that I would reconstitute with water I boiled in my hot pot in my college dorm room. Back then, I could get ten packages of Top Ramen for $1 from Wegmans. (For those of you unfamiliar with Wegmans, if I actually believed in an afterlife, it would the super market I want in Heaven). It wasn't until I moved to NYC and started "doing lunch" with friends, that I had my first real ramen experience.

I realize that the underlying theme of this blog seems to be situations where I have had food epiphanies after moving to NYC. Hm.... I think this is the point where I have a meta-epiphany and realize that NYC is my true obsession... I digress...

Eating a bowl of really authentic ramen is an extraordinary experience. Ramen is usually served in a piping hot pork-based broth and is topped with things such as sliced fatty pork belly, bamboo shoots, nori, fish cake, and scallions. Some places also have extras like wontons or mochi.

I am by no means a ramen expert, but since I tend to get obsessed about things, particularly food, I made it my mission to try out a bunch of different ramen shops around the city (I even made an excursion out to NJ) and write about my experiences. Each shop will be a separate entry since I have so much to say about each place!

My first stop was Momofuku which is not actually an authentic ramen shop. Rather, it's this notorious little shop in the East Village. I went there to meet up with my dear friend Wendy, whom I hadn't seen in many years. We caught up over delicious food and the experience rekindled my interest in ramen.

As I said before, I tend to get obsessed with food items, so shortly after my trip to Momofuku with Wendy, a very famous and authentic Japanese ramen shop, Ippudo, opened a branch in NYC. You will have to wait until the next entry for details about this place.

Third stop was the midtown location of a place I had frequented prior to 9/11, Men Kui Tei. I used to go to the one that was very close to one of the WTC towers for lunch. Next, I ventured out to Mitsuwa in Edgewater, NJ to have ramen from Santoka, which is the ramen shop in the food court. My last stop was Setagaya in the East Village.

The noodles and broths from each shop are different, so I feel that each one deserves its own entry along with beautiful pictures taken by my wonderful husband and fellow ramen enthusiast, Terence.


Sandy said...

Mmmm, MSG! Looking forward to your posts on Setagaya and Ippudo.

Terence said...

Wow! It has been a while since the ramen tour - I think we should do it again to refresh your memory.