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Ramen Resolution – Ruckus Ramen

Ramen Resolution – Ruckus Ramen

Finding a ramen place on holiday isn’t difficult, especially in North America. But choosing a ramen place on holiday is a whole ‘nother matter.

I depend heavily on “Top 20 ramen joints in [city]” articles to narrow down the options for me. That’s how I discovered Ruckus Ramen in Boston, which appeared in this Thillist list.

I had arrived just as they were opening, so I was awkwardly the only patron for a little while.

I also missed the instruction to order at the cash register (check me out using Americanisms) so there was a bit of a standoff whilst both sides waited for the other to make a move. Eventually, I placed my order for tempura pickled Padron peppers and the Tori Paitan ramen, mainly beause it was heralded as a ‘crowdpleaser’ in that list I found.

The Padron peppers were delicious, salty, sour, crispy…everything I like!

However, I was disappointed when it came to the noodles. Not because there was anything wrong, but I definitely ordered badly.

I was seduced by what Ruckus call ‘swag’ but everywhere else calls extras. I’d pimped my ramen, with something called an umami bomb, and friends, it bombed.

The crispy chicken skin was not, and it just made the broth gloopy with collagen. Unfortunately, I was unable to finish it because it was just too thick.

That aside, heritage cauliflower was an interesting topping and something that I would try again.

Looking back there are other things on the menu which I should have ordered instead (step forward black garlic mazeman) so, the moral of this story is definitely to take time to read the menu in detail!

It seems unfair to rate Ruckus badly due to inept ordering, but if you’re going to force me I’d give it 2/5.

Ramen Resolution – back to Nanban

Ramen Resolution – back to Nanban

It’s a rare occasion that I’m early for, well, anything. But a diary misunderstanding today meant that I ended up two hours early for a thing.

After eating, drinking, browsing, reading and general perusing…I even had time to update on some recent ramen adventures! Joy of joys!

My last visit to Nanban was on 31 December 2017. I remember then being intrigued by the idea of curried goat ramen.

After 364 days, I surrendered to the nagging voice in my head and headed back to the Brixton restaurant. I was not disappointed.

I had a cocktail (because; festive), placed my order (because; hungry) and settled back in to my book (because; other resolutions).

Crispy gyoza is a cool idea, but they tasted a bit greasy. The noodles were delicious though. Spicy, slightly sour broth, and meaty hunks of goat dotted through the bowl. It’s not the best egg that I’ve ever had, but hard to really find fault!

I think I’d still prefer soft and juicy pork belly as the meat, but I’m always up for trying new things, and would definitely return to Nanban again to assess the seafood ramen, which isn’t an option you see in a lot of places.

It’s slightly on the expensive side compared to other options in London, but you get what you pay for and so as a ‘last meal of 2018’ I felt it was justified.

I think I’ve given up on my rating system (although it would probably be a solid 4). In hindsight,the system wasn’t well enough developed at the outset, and I’m not sure after so many posts that I can introduce something new. What to do dear reader?!

If in doubt, eat more ramen! Peace.

Ramen Resolution – Ramen-ya

Ramen Resolution – Ramen-ya

Guys!! I thought I did a noodle hat-trick in New York City, but then I was going through my photos and realised I actually squeezed in 4 bowls of deliciousness.

I’m fairly sure me forgetting Ramen-ya tells you quite a lot already, without me actually telling you anything yet.

It wasn’t bad ramen. It wasn’t great ramen. So I guess that makes it ra-meh-n?

It was a busy night in Greenwich Village, and Ramen-ya was busy too. But again, as a single diner, I was slotted in at the counter straightaway. However, someone had had the genius plan to not have the kitchen visible behind the counter, so you just looked upon an empty void used for storage of boxes.

I chose the miso Tonkotsu. It was everything you would typically expect, pork, mushrooms, egg. All very tasty, but to be honest after Mr Taka, the next noodles were always going to have to step up their game to be in the same league.

Would I go back? Sure, but only if other options weren’t available.

Ramen-ya, you were perfectly ok, but nothing really set you apart. I’m therefore giving you a firm 3/5.

Ramen Resolution – Mr Taka

Ramen Resolution – Mr Taka

I’m not one for histrionics, but I think I may have found the best ramen ever

My plan for Friday night in New York City was to have a quick bowl of noodles before hitting up some trendy Lower East Side bars. I’d googled to find a place with decent reviews and set off in the direction of Cho-Ko…

After a traumatic journey which involved three subway lines and a bus, I looked through the window and something about it just didn’t appeal to me. Fortunately, on the opposite side of the road was a more promising ramen joint with a queue outside.

Mr Taka was BUSY! But as a lone-diner, I was able to bypass the ‘line’ and was seated at the counter with a great view into the kitchen.

Now let me tell you about the Tonkotsu noodles…

Black Garlic Oil, parmesan, spicy miso and MEAT!! Thick, fatty, smokey, anise-y meat. Looking around at what other people had ordered, I had chosen well – most dishes seemed to just have one chunk of meat, but mine had three.

The broth was creamy and had paper-thin slices of raw garlic – this was new for me, and although the first slice was a surprise it’s definitely something I’ll be adding to my own recipe now!

The restaurant was also playing some great J-Pop.

This was ramen so good that I adjusted my plans for the evening and just went home satisfied. And honestly, I don’t even feel like I missed out.

Mr Taka gets a solid 5/5. If you’re in NYC you neeeed to visit!

Ramen Resolution – Hana Noodles

Ramen Resolution – Hana Noodles

Next on my short burst of New York ramen eateries was Hana Noodles.

Again, this was a stall located inside a ‘market’, this time the DeKalb Market Hall in Downtown Brooklyn.

Now, it turned out this wasn’t strictly ramen (although I’m not sure there are hard and fast rules about what is and isn’t) but more like just regular noodles.

However, I’d trecked all the way there so decided to give it a shot. I decided if I wasn’t going to have proper ramen then I should at least pick something a bit unusual so ordered the Peanut Butter Noodles with Pineapple.

It took a while to make, as all noodles at this noodle shop are hand-pulled to order – you have the choice of noodle diameter and cross section (flat or round) and can watch the chefs getting very physical with balls of dough to create the noodles.

I wasn’t expecting the dish to be cold either, but it was a perfect lunchtime snack.

On the basis that Hana Noodles wasn’t ramen I feel it’s a bit unfair to score them, but what I did eat was delicious and the service was fantastic. If pushed I’d have to award a 2.5/5 – as a bowl of noodles it was tasty and refreshing, but not being ramen means points are docked!

Ramen Resolution – Ivan Ramen

Ramen Resolution – Ivan Ramen

What started as a sort of tongue-in-cheek resolution back in 2016 has almost become a way of life.

There are still plenty of places in London that I want to check out, but now whenever I’m abroad I have this unyielding curiosity about their ramen.

With a few days to spare in The Big Apple, I set about seeing how New Yorker’s like their noodles.

First up was Ivan Ramen, which has two branches in NYC. One in the East Village (more on that in a later post) and the branch I graced in Gotham West Market in Hells Kitchen.

The trend in New York seems to be for this ‘market hall’ type food outlets – think street food, but inside. You might grab ramen, but your friends could get a burger, or fried chicken, or Lebanese food or whatever. A pick’n’mix of deliciousness.

Ivan’s Slurp Shop offers a relatively limited menu, but the choices all had something different to say, this is ramen with a modern twist. Hipster ramen if you will.

I had 25 minutes until I had to be at the Upright Citizens Brigade. So although I was tempted by the Triple Garlic Mazeman I opted for the sesame-heavy Chicken Paitan on the basis that it would be less offensive to the people sat next to me in the theatre for 90 minutes.

Within minutes I was presented with the creamiest ramen you ever did see. Now, I love a thick broth, but this was almost too thick to slurp! Take a second to go back and look at it…notice it’s lusciousness!

The rye noodles were interesting too, more like the texture of rice noodles than wheat ones; springier.

I only happened upon Ivan’s by accident, because it was literally the nearest place to the theatre. It felt like it was on the expensive end of the scale, but I’d definitely recommend it. Perhaps it was because it was late on a Sunday, but I was surprised it wasn’t busier.

Ivan’s Slurp Shop, I’m awarding you a very respectable 4/5!

Ramen Resolution – Thousand Knives

Ramen Resolution – Thousand Knives

Last Saturday I took myself over to Spitalfields for the We ❤ Asian Food Festival.

Now, before I go on, a word about food festivals – in general, I think they are pointless. They’re usually overpriced and repetitive. However, at just £5 for a ticket which included a free drink, it seemed like a no-brainer, and the advert I saw mentioned there were ramen vendors! Say no more!

I did a full lap of the venue and didn’t see a single ramen stall. My stress levels were mounting.

But then, I spied a lady slurping on noodles from a box. There were ramen here somewhere, I just needed to find them!

Another lap and a half later I found Thousand Knives hidden behind a queue for a bao stall. Apparently, they have a fully fledged restaurant in Dalston, so that’s another one added to the to-eat list!

The menu options were limited, but this is essentially street food/take out noodles, so I didn’t mind too much.

I went for the signature pork ramen just as it comes, and was not disappointed. In fact, the quality of take out ramen consistently surprises me – the noodles were firm, the egg was soft (although a little cold). The spring onions could have been sliced thinner and ideally, there would have been another slice of pork. However, for £8, this is some of the cheapest ramen I’ve had in the UK.

I give them a solid RAMEN (3 out of 5), which for noodles in a cardboard box is actually pretty damn good!