In Defense of Ramen

When it comes to food I’m pretty lucky. First, I have a father who is smart, resourceful, adventurous and loves to eat. Through him, I’ve been introduced to many different types of new food. Second, I live very close to New York City where if you know where to look, can find almost every type of food imaginable. The first time I tried actual Ramen was a few years ago and since then I’ve been hooked. Now Ramen gets a pretty bad rep in the U.S. That’s because when you say Ramen most people think of those 25 cent packages of instant noodles you can buy at your local grocery store. Ramen is just a style of wheat based noodle and broth, so yes that stuff is considered Ramen. But I am writing this entry now to introduce those of you who aren’t already familiar with it, to Ramen that doesn’t come served in a styrofoam cup.

So why am I writing this entry about a Japanese noodle soup when I’m living in Vietnam? Well, last night I went to a Ramen restaurant for the first time in over four months and it was so delicious that I felt the need to write about it! So here we go…

Japanese cuisine goes far beyond Sushi and Chicken Teriyaki. Ramen broth is usually made from chicken or pork stock and is generally thicker than the type of broth you use to make Pho. There is a wide range of Ramen, which stems from the different ways it is prepared in different parts of Japan. I usually get Shio (Salt) or Shoyu (Soy Sauce) Ramen. The bowl is filled with broth, noodles, pork, hard boiled egg, bamboo shoots, seaweed and fishcake. You can absolutely get Ramen with other ingredients too. For example, my father often gets Curry Ramen and his bowl of soup looks far different from mine. Anyways, Ramen is delicious. The broth is rich and salty and the meat used in Ramen is usually extra soft, fatty and tender. Maybe not the healthiest thing, but definitely adds loads of flavor.

The restaurant I went to last night is called Osaka Ramen and when I entered I was greeted with a chorus of “Hello!” and “Welcome!” in Japanese. In addition to the food itself, I love the atmosphere in Ramen Restaurants. The staff is always upbeat and the decor is simple and modern. If you are in NYC and want to try some Ramen, Ippudo is a fun place to go. It’s always packed and the waiters basically put on a show for you. There are also a few places Midtown that are very popular during lunchtime and are filled with fancy men and women in suits playing around with their Blackberrys. If you just google “Ramen NYC” you will find tons of places.

Osaka Ramen probably wasn’t the best Ramen I’ve had, but it definitely hit the spot and I was extremely satisfied. It’s funny. In Vietnam you can get almost any type of food: Italian, Mexican, Japanese, Indian, French, Turkish, American, etc. But it’s almost impossible to find food from our neighbors like Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, etc. Weird. But lucky for me I can eat all the tacos and Ramen I want when I’m here! And I will definitely be back, soon, to get more Ramen. I’m going to leave you with some pictures in hopes to work up your appetites and get you to the nearest place they serve Ramen. Enjoy!

Hot bowl of Ramen and Cold bottle of Sapporo - the perfect combination

Ramen, close up. Yum!

Oh, one more thing. I posted pictures on facebook of my trip to Mui Ne, a beach town 5 hours outside of Saigon. Check them out!!

Osaka Ramen is located at 18 Thai Van Lung, District 1. It is one of the only places in downtown District 1 that stays open late (3am)!

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1 Comment

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One response to “In Defense of Ramen

  1. I’m getting a carbo-coma just looking at your photos

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