Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Redneck Ramen

Ramen is ubiquitous fast food in Japan and Korea. Most Americans know Ramen by the delightful moniker of Oodles of Noodles. Delightful, you know delightful like when you eat a dog turd before you realize that it's one of those fancy organic chocolate bars that they sell in their overpriced candy boutiques out here. Instant Ramen is vastly different from the real deal just as a frozen pizza is a distant cousin to one of those delicious cardboard Domino’s pizzas that you get delivered to the door of your trailer….and ma, don’t forget the crazy bread!!!
Instant Ramen has potential. That is the key. All packages of instant ramen come with at least one spice pouch. Sometimes they will also contain a sauce pack. The packets give different flavors to the basic block of ramen noodle. As you can see from the photo my wife has elevated the art of preparing instant ramen to the sublime. And what is so awesome about this particular bowl is that she has managed to meet the Far East with the Good Old South. This ramen is a Korean brand that is super spicy called Nong Shim Ramyun.

When I eat this ramen my eyes water; it’s so hot!! Yo-yo has placed on the top of the noodles: seaweed, scallions, broccoli rabe, feta cheese, and best of all some pan fried WG White & Company North Carolina Country Ham. The bowl is garnished with black sesame seeds. It was so good. I am going to do a whole post on WG White & Company because that is some deep philosophical shit that is going to have to be got into but suffice here to say that the ham gave a sweet salty kick to the spicy ramen. The feta cooled my mouth down and added its own saltiness. The seaweed and broccoli rabe gave texture and a briny flavor as well. Four stars to my wife.

I had the opportunity to visit the Ramen Museum when I was in Yokohama. One floor of the museum (yes there are three levels devoted to this national treasure) has been completely transformed into a bustling business district in Tokyo circa 1958. This “Ramen Town” is a historical theme park. All of the buildings and all of the restaurants and bars are refurbished from the era which was a time in Japanese history just prior to the explosion of modernity. There are five or six ramen stands selling different styles of ramen. It’s pretty cool. If you are in Yokohama, it’s fun to go.

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