Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Eternal Hunt for Convenience Ramen

Looking for a quick bite before a major night of Culver City art gallery openings, my mate and I decided to try a Ramen Yamadaya noodle joint. A chain from Japan, the place was small, boisterous and filled up quickly after we initially sat down at one of the 15 or so four seated-communal tables, welcomed by loud hellos from the entire staff. Considering this franchise is akin to an American fast food restaurant only Asian-style I wasn’t exactly expecting four-star food and it’s hard to go wrong with a bowl of ramen anywhere. It’s the kind of cheap and quick meal that satisfies the soul with warmth and provided fuel for the exhibition hopping that was about to ensue. 

I had the Yamadaya ramen house specialty with tonkotsu shoyu (soy) broth that boasted lots of pork. I was satisfied because for the ten dollar price tag the bowl was large and swimming with at least seven slices of yummy plain cooked pork. A nice fatty pork belly slice adorned the top along with two nicely hard-boiled egg halves, lots of skinny ramen noodles, sheets of seaweed, assorted black noodles and green onion bits. The bowl could have arrived a bit hotter in the broth department but I wasn’t going to complain, as it was a quick-fix fast meal.

My mate had the simple nine-dollar bowl of chashu ramen with the basic tonkotsu broth and ended up dipping into the extra bits of my bowl for added flavor.

Ramen is a current obsession of mine. I grew up eating the poor man’s lame version of ramen noodles that you could buy in the grocery store for under a buck a pack. When I blossomed into a foodie in later years, my first real ramen experience was in Little Tokyo in Los Angeles where I fell in love with the grown up version of meaty noodles in smoking hot flavorful broths. It’s definitely my favorite preference in the warming, soups department.

There are so many ramen joints in L.A. that you can basically find one in every neighborhood. Considering I stay away from fast food chains of the American variety, I might opt for more individual mom and pop ramen places in the future simply because there are so many to choose from and this particular one didn’t exactly fill the niche in my mind for that favorite go-to spot. We both also agreed that we should have opted for fat noodles because the skinny ones weren’t as complementary to the experience as the thicker ones would have been.

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