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Ramen Resolution – Koi Ramen

Ramen Resolution – Koi Ramen

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…Friday night is noodle night! 

After one of the longest weeks at work in a while (I’ve clocked up 102 hours) I couldn’t be bothered cooking. I didn’t fancy the typical takeaway staples, but thankfully found the nearby Koi Ramen on Deliveroo!

I was skeptical about what they would actually be like when they arrived, but anything was better than slaving in the kitchen!

This is sort of what ramen is all about, a quick, tasty and filling meal, with few frills. Noodles came packaged in plastic cartons which I’d associate with Play D’oh. But as is often the case, appearance isn’t everything.

The menu options are limited. Choice of three types of gyoza (we tried all of them, obvs!) and choice of three types of ramen – spicy, normal and veggie. There was an option to add an egg (why would anybody not?!) but this was not the customisable affair offered by other Ramen Resolution places.

On our trip to Japan we sadly didn’t get chance to go to the gyoza museum in Osaka, but I understand that they’re relatively recent additions, only really becoming popular after the Second World War.

The crispy gyoza were excellent. I think the chicken was my favourite.

The miso pork bone broth was up there with some of the best I’ve had, and did that ‘stick to the roof of your mouth’ thing that, to me at least, indicates goooooood ramen.

This is also the cheapest ramen that I have had since starting out on this quest. Admittedly we didn’t have alcohol but the whole lot came in at £28.50 between two of us.

I’m giving a solid RAMEN (4 out of 5), but I have to add that this feels unfair.I’m marking it down only because I was eating it at home. I will definitely have to check out one of the three Koi Ramen popup restaurants for the full experience.

The discovery of noodles to the door could be the start of a slippery yet delicious slope!

Ramen Resolution – Monohon

Ramen Resolution – Monohon

Six months in to my ramen resolution I’m averaging one new restaurant per month, which, frankly, is rather less than I had hoped for when I set myself this goal way back in January.

Mohohon translates from Japanese as “The Real Thing”, a very apt name for the ramen that we tried out last weekend, which are up there with some of the best I’ve had.

I’d spent the day drinking incredible cocktails at The Alchemist near Liverpool Street but didn’t have dinner plans. A split second later, we leapt into the back of taxi and headed to Old Street, placing our faith in Google that there was a ramen place somewhere near Old Street.

From the outside Monohon reminded me of Okan in Brixton. Small frontage, slightly steamy windows and a prominent and vibrant kitchen on the left hand side.

However, the menu was like nowhere we have eaten before. Even in actual Japan (although that could be because of my rudimentary Japanese).

The choice was limited to just four dishes; two soupy ramen, and two soup-less. Not even a starter in sight! I was apprehensive about no soup, but decided that it was worth the gamble.

Having enjoyed the Dracula ramen from Shoryu, I chose the Taiwan Maze Soba, which promised ‘spicy garlic’, but I swapped my poached egg for the more traditional soft boiled egg. You can see the insane amount of crushed raw garlic that was served!

Meanwhile Adam, lover of the slow cooked pork, opted for the Aruba Soba, also sans soup, although his was a bit wetter than mine! I have no idea what he was looking at…maybe the same thing as the guy in the background!

Oh. My. Days. The made in-house noodles were delicious (apparently they’re boiled in spring water rather than London tap water).

Our experiment paid off. Soup-less ramen might not be monohon, but they are bloody delicious and I’ll definitely be going back for more! After seeing a picture on their Instagram, I already know what I’m going to have!

As you can see, we also treated ourselves to a cold sake, but to be honest this wasn’t that special.

Overall it came in at £25.50 between us, which is one of the cheapest that we’ve had. Bonus!

Maybe I was drunk, maybe I’m getting soft, but I’m awarding Monohon my second RAMEN (5 out of 5) of the series!

 

 

My challenge to emergency planners in the wake of Manchester

My challenge to emergency planners in the wake of Manchester

I want to preface this short post with two caveats

  1. I think the responders in Manchester have done, and continue to do, an incredible job. Not just the emergency services, not just the NHS staff, but everyone who has helped in any way. It’s a clear demonstration of the many supporting the few.
  2. My sincere condolences are with all the families of those killed, and with anyone affected by Monday’s events. I encourage you to dig deep and donate to the appeal fund to help support them through the difficult months and years ahead.

I didn’t know any of the victims or casualties from Monday’s attack, but I did follow one on Twitter. He brought his infectious sense of humour to my news feed. His name was Martyn Hett.

Martyn was 29. Facebook was launched when he was 16, Twitter when he was 18. He, and millions of others (myself included) have grown up not just with ‘IRL’ friends, but a whole network of online friends and acquaintances. Communities for whom sharing the same geography isn’t a factor.

I’ve seen outpourings of grief online from people that never knew Martyn. I’ve also seen those people supporting each other, showing compassion and kindness. The ripples of the incident go far beyond the physical communities within which he moved.

With more of us being connected through social media (or other platforms the internet has to offer), I think this needs to be a factor in how we design emergency response.

The world, our cities, and the people within them are constantly changing. It’s difficult (perhaps impossible) for large organisations to react quickly to every single one of those changes.

My hope is that emergency planners, especially those digital natives who have grown up online like Martyn, continue to challenge current processes, ensure arrangements reflect changes in society and above all, don’t forget that you’re doing this for anyone who is affected by an incident, no matter where they happen to be.

 

Ramen Resolution – Bone Daddies

Ramen Resolution – Bone Daddies

As much as I like to think I am, I’m definitely not cool enough to live in East London. Wonky haircuts, Dr Martens, skinny jeans…it’s  just not my aesthetic. However, I lured Adam and Melissa there this weekend to visit a cat estate agent.

That’s correct, an estate agent for cats!

It’s an art thing. It’s a charity thing. It was a bit of a let-down if I’m honest, but here’s cat Taj Mahal…

After schlepping all the way to Old Street, I needed sustenance, so we located our nearest ramen joint.

I have previously reviewed Bone Daddies, so I was initially hesitant to return so soon, but the only other nearby option was closed. I have to say that I wasn’t a fan of the location of the restaurant – it felt like a bit of a soul-less ‘mixed use development’, but once inside the rock music added much needed atmosphere.

I have lost count of the number of times I’ve had the Korean chicken wings. So in an effort to broaden my culinary horizons we decided to share two starters between us. We chose two kushikatsu (breaded and fried meat and vegetables).

One (on the right in the photo below) had cheese, bacon and padron peppers…definitely not very Japanese. The other was spicy chicken and spring onion. They were nice, but I don’t think I’d get the chicken one again, it was a bit too spicy for me.

Strangely the ramen arrived before the starters, which was good because it meant I wasn’t fully already when I tucked into my Tonkotsu. It’s 20-hour pork broth was delicious, almost like gravy. If anything it was a little too rich, but incredibly tasty.

I have noticed that none of the ramen I’ve had since January have had the white and pink fishcake. Presumably this is because of some regulation or other, but that little floating thing does make a bowl of noodles look a bit more special.

This is how a bowl of ramen should look…

Sadly the tonkotsu came without many extras, just spring onion, beansprouts and bamboo shoots, so I added lots of nori, which I’d recommend.

Sidebar: Nori originates in the Asakusa area of Tokyo, where I spent more than a hour browsing in kitchenware shops in the Kappbashi district.

Adam and Mel shared some cold broccoli which came with a spicy mayonnaise; but they ate it too quickly and I didn’t get to have any.

This is, I’m not overstating here, the best ramen that I have eaten in the UK. I think I’d add mushrooms as well next time, but the broth was simply divine and the pork literally melted in my mouth.

The bill came to just over £75 for the three of us, with drinks included. I’m awarding this meal my first RAMEN (5 out of 5) of my Ramen Resolution.

I was literally full for the rest of the day too! Bonus!

In short; go to Bone Daddies, order the Tonkotsu, thank me later.  Or if you can’t get there straight away, go drool over the foodporn on their Instagram.

 

Ramen* Resolution – Gỗ

Ramen* Resolution – Gỗ

Nothing says ‘traditional Good Friday activity’ like a trip to the selfie exhibition at the Saachi Gallery. Highlights included me taking a selfie with (potentially) the first ever selfie and witnessing the genius of this monkey selfie. I’ll let you take a moment to fully appreciate how excellent this is.

Topping that was always going to be difficult, but maybe a steaming bowl of ramen would do it. A quick google revealed another list of the top 10 Ramen places in London and we headed off in the direction of the nearest one.

Or so we thought!

Unfortunately we got to Dozo on Old Brompton Road to find it closed between lunch and dinner services. Yes, I know it’s 2017 and I could have checked opening hours, but what sort of restaurant closes on a bank holiday?

Adam pointed towards Gỗ, a Vietnamese place opposite and looked at me.

Side note: There seems to be some debate about how to pronounce pho. The consensus online seems to be ‘fuh’, but our Vietnamese waiter definitely pronounced it ‘faux’.

To celebrate Easter we started with Lychee Martini’s. I’d have been happy to cancel my food order and just have more of this deliciousness. “We need to get lychee juice!” Adam exclaimed.

We shared starters, grilled chicken wings and ribs. Both came with pickled veg and a sweet vinegary sauce.

 

Then our bowls of organic chicken pho arrived…I tried to capture the steam in this gif.

The soup was a 16-hour beef broth. SIXTEEN HOURS!! Not too salty, I added a squeeze of lime and a dash of fish sauce, as well as the beansprouts and various herbs. Adam loaded his up with a spicy Sriracha-style sauce.

I’m not always a fan of rice noodles, which can sometimes be a bit soggy and look insipid, but these noodles were yummo.

The Easter celebrations carried on with a second cocktail and I went ‘off menu’ with the waiter’s recommendation a Saigon Colada. A Vietnamese take on a Pina Colada, which seemed to involve the not-unwelcome addition of passion fruit.

The total bill came to just over £70, which for two courses and two drinks is reasonable for London, but I suspect quite extortionate compared to authentic pho!

If I’m honest, I think I would have preferred ramen, mostly *I’m racked with guilt that I’m dangerously close to bending the rules of my resolution. However, this is by far the best Vietnamese I’ve had in London recently, and would recommend you go to Gỗ if you’re in the South Kensington area. There is also a sister branch in Soho, which I’ll make a point of checking out too!

I’ll be back with ramen next time I promise!

What Jurassic Park taught us about cyber risk

What Jurassic Park taught us about cyber risk

The tl;dr version of this post: don’t forget about the insider threat!

This week I attended the first in a series of three events by the Institution of Civil Engineers entitled Preparing London. This particular event was designed to consider the human threats to infrastructure.

During a talk from Nathan Jones (see this blog on his talk) my mind wandered and wondered…Did Jurassic Park teach me everything I know about cyber risk?

God damn it! I hate this hacker crap!

Ok, so maybe not everything worth knowing about cyber risk is summarised in Jurassic Park, but it’s a useful introduction into what happens when the tables are turned and technology which usually helps keep us safe, becomes the risk.

Everything in Jurassic Park is connected. The electric fences, the lighting in the visitor centre, the locks on the doors. When it’s working as planned, this connectivity helps the park’s management maintain an efficient operation and a positive guest experience.

However, such a complex system requires some centralised control.  Looking at this through a business continuity lens, this is a clear single point of failure. An inherent risk.

This has clear parallels with our modern society and the interdependencies between systems that I’ve talked about previously.

Dennis Nedry exploits his colleagues limited understanding to enact his attack. He uses his tech-savvy advantage to provide cover for him stealing intellectual property, whilst putting lots of people in danger. The ultimate lesson here is that the real monsters aren’t the dinosaurs.

Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.

As well as a light-hearted moment during the dinosaur chase sequence, I think Spielberg also snuck this in as a metaphor for risks manifesting in ways which had not been considered.

Were the Jurassic Park team aware of cyber risk? Yes, there is literally a scene about passwords. I expect a lot of  people assume that a good password is all they need for their IT security.

It’s clear they had also considered other risks, and had taken proactive action to control that risk. Electric fences, professional hunters, CCTV and motion sensors and the attempt at all-female genetic engineering are just some of the risk controls in the film.

But had the team considered the possibility that an employee would want to hold the park to ransom for personal gain? Could they have identified the vulnerability of the computerised control? Could they have done more in advance to protect the systems from malicious attack?

Dennis, our lives are in your hands.

Early in the film there are hints at Nedry’s personal financial difficulties. Later he mumbles to himself about test runs of his embryo heist.

John Hammond, the park owner recognises the power that Nedry has.

There were clearly signals which the team missed and knowledge which is combined, could have allowed an intervention before he got the opportunity to shut down the park.

Clever girl / I know this.

Just as the team hadn’t anticipated an insider threat, Nedry wasn’t expecting a tech-savvy teenager to thwart his plan.

Just when it looks like the raptors will get into the control room, Lex (the park owner’s granddaughter) recognises the Unix system and takes maters into her own hands.

The actual interface may be debatable (in researching (yes, research!) this post I’ve found that it was technically available, but I’m doubtful that a school student would have been aware), but it comes as no surprise that kids have a natural affinity with the technology that adults have to think about.

Side note: Provided the right precautions are in place to prevent unauthorised use, user friendly systems aren’t just a productivity win; they help prevent people finding work-arounds or backdoors.

Life finds a way.

With the ever increasing access to, and pervasiveness of the Internet and smart devices, Jurassic Park remains relevant today.

I’d argue that we’ve already reached a point where complete understanding of system interdependencies is impossible. Our societies and the technologies used are just too complex. However, we can continue to challenge our assumptions, keep our risk assessments grounded in reality and take action in advance to mitigate that risk.

It’s also a reminder that physical and IT security are just parts of the puzzle when it comes to risk management. Solutions are also required, sadly, to prevent against malicious attack by either insiders or outsiders.

It’s also just a really great film!

Ramen Resolution – Okan Brixton

Ramen Resolution – Okan Brixton

The best noodle nights are impromptu noodle nights. That was the situation with last Friday’s ramen at Okan in Brixton.

I should have been in Edinburgh, but plans changed at late notice and so we quickly formulated Plan B: meet a friend and continue Ramen Resolution. What can I say, contingency planning (and eating) comes naturally to me!

Okan Ramen is a short stroll from the trendy Brixton Village. If this isn’t an area that you’re familiar with you should check it out. I strongly believe that Seven at Brixton have one of the most interesting and regularly updated cocktail menus around.

The steam from noodles had misted the windows, which gave it quite an authentic vibe, lots of the places in Japan had similar condensation issues. I took this as a good sign!

We ordered the crispy pork bites to share (disconcertingly described as meat special on the receipt). As portion sizes go this was really generous and was just right for three of us, but we were all so eager to get stuck in that we forgot to take a picture!

After a stressful day I treated myself to the tonkotsu which promised an indulgent creamy broth. Remember that video I shared before, well I think this bowl of ramen came closest to that experience – special attention paid to how the food was presented, including the bowl being rotated so the nori was directly opposite. It was really good, my only note would be that the noodles were perhaps a bit overdone for my liking.

 

Adam has the spicy version of mine, but I don’t think he let me try it, which I take to mean it was delicious. Mike ordered the shoyu, which has a clear broth but still looked pretty good.

We also got a cold sake between us. There was only a choice of one and as sake goes it wasn’t the best I’ve had.

Overall I really enjoyed Okan. Maybe because I’d been off work all day, but I felt less rushed. It was also very reasonable prices, coming in at less than £20 each. I’ve just noticed the logo represents the globules of fat floating in a bowl…maybe. They get extra credit for that!


So, I’m going to rate Okan RAMEN (4 out of 5). I still feel like something is missing in the search for the elusive 5/5. If the noodles had been firmer then this might have just edged it. I also feel like I’m docking points for bad sake, which I’m not sure is fair if I’m just reviewing the ramen, but it’s my blog so I’ll do what I want!

Sayōnara until next time!

Oh, and here’s a two bonus pictures to give an impression of the company and décor.