I'm not a follower of The Church of The Flying Spaghetti Monster but their ending prayer of "ra-men" always makes me drool. I also appreciate this ritual for uplifting one of my culinary favorites.
I'm a noodle enthusiast. I love my spaetzle, pappardelle, shahe fen, udon, and chow mein. I'll travel 20 minutes out of my way to get fresh noodles from the Vietnamese markets by Iroquois Shopping Center. I'll sacrifice my weekend budget to splurge on fresh pasta at Lotsa Pasta.
Nothing is more disappointing then noodles done wrong. The most common noodle dish that I find myself bemoaning is close to my heart. As a half Japanese woman who grew up eating ramen, it's woeful absence from so many menus is hard enough. It's even worse that the few times it sneaks on to a menu, you are often greeted with flavorless broth and over cooked gummy noodles.
What are the warning signs that you may be getting a sub par ramen dish? Many times, folks won't specify what kind of ramen it is. That's right, there are tons of different ramen varieties, even ones that you eat cold.
The most common varieties you'll have to chose from are shio (salt), tonkotsu (pork bone), shoyu (soy sauce), and miso. Out of those four, I most often come across variations of shoyu (soy sauce) ramen. I was raised on shoyu ramen and I love it. However, when I grew up a little bit and traveled to Japan as an adult, I met my ramen soul mate, tonkotsu. Tonkotsu ramen has a rich, thick broth made from stewing and melting down the fat pork bones. The result is a nutty, rich, savory soup that clings to the curly ramen noodles. I like mine with a teaspoon of raw garlic and some red chili.
So where can you find a good bowl of tonkotsu ramen? Luckily, I have found one place in Louisville that does it decent. Head out to Westport Village and slurp a bowl at Hiko-a-mon for $11.95. When I say slurp, I mean it. It is totally culturally appropriate to slurp ramen noodles in Japan. For those of you willing to go the extra mile, learn more about ramen eating etiquette here.