Monday, July 13, 2009

Ramen Y's, Kanda (わいず)

For the whole of this month, I've been thinking about ramen. It's a lousy idea - now that temperatures are over 90, we'll walk around outside in the sun before settling into a narrow, cramped, galley-style restaurant where the stools are packed like pins in a cushion and the other customer are similarly big, male and sweaty, and then we'll eat steaming hot bowls of pork fat and noodles with nothing but raw onions to cool our bodies. Yum.

Yeah, a lousy idea, but it was MY idea. I even tried to resist for a while - once I identified the best-looking Kanda Westside ramen place, I couldn't quite convert. I came very close to a Chinese place and their neon chili-shrimp special (another sometime junkfood craving of mine) just because it looked dark and strongly air-conditioned. In the end, mind triumphed over fear of sweaty-ass syndrome and I went in.

Please see the earlier description of a generic ramen shop; surprisingly, it matches the Y's experfience quite closely. On a cute and funny note, one of the staff insisted on speaking English to me in a way that sounded like memorized situational phrases ('Now please come this way!').

Well, the ramen. Another shop, another interesting and individual take on a bowla noodles. The soup here is very fatty, but more in an 'oil to calm the waters' way than a 'freshly fallen flakes of fat' way (if you know what I mean). The noodles are very thick, fairly straight, and quite yellow with egg. I asked for them 'firm' as I usually do, but they didn't soften much, and I'd advise you to go for normal done-ness if you go.

Toppings are pretty good. The cha shu is very juicy; something about it reminded me of a sliced duck breast - each slice curled up slightly on itself as if it was cut while still hot, and maybe even grilled a little more, biscotti-style. The menma were blissfully absent. I didn't have the egg. The seaweed was a big square sheet, not a long rectangle like a lot of places, and made an excellent pork sandwich when combined with a slice of the necessary. And the whole thing was topped with a big clump of...cooked spinach! Where they get these ideas from, I'll never know, but I like the variety.

The sign on the wall tells you to enjoy your lunch by eating half, then adding garlic paste and black pepper. They had an intriguing 'kuroshichimi', like the usual red -pepper blend common to Japanese tables but with lots of black pepper. I tried a little of this, but by that halfway point of the bowl I was too exhausted to face raw garlic and even more heat. I just hunkered down and ate, desperate to finish my noodles and get back to the 90-degree sun outside. It wasn't any more forgiving than on the way in.

Wise Latina ramen?

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