Furiously slurping ramen
Ramen hit America and became a food phenomenon. Like many food icons, ramen started out as a cheap lunch for Japanese workers. Chefs brought the noodle dish to America. Like most food trends, all hell broke loose.
Ramen is a cousin of another popular dish, Vietnamese pho. Like pho, the broth(s) can take two or three days to make. Broth is the defining ingredient in ramen. The broth gives ramen its flavor. All the rest is window dressing.
The noodles re different than others. They are either made with alkaline mineral water or baking soda added to increase alkalinity. This gives them the texture they are known for.
Like many cheap foods, ramen became higher priced in the states. Much of that is due to the nature of the restaurant business in America, the price fluctuations of commodities, and the creativity of cooks with ingredients.
Ramen is broth and toppings. Ordering in some ramen places can be excruciating as the choices are encyclopedic. I passed one restaurant where the menu was in the window. It took up about two thirds of the large plate glass.
In Chicago two ramen places carved out good reputations. Furious Spoon and Slurping Turtle. Aside from the food, which is amazing, they share another important trait. Geography or location. Both are situated in areas heavy with restaurants and bars appealing to younger people.
Furious Spoon has locations in Wicker Park and Logan Square. Slurping Turtle is on the edge of Hubbard Street’s bar restaurant scene.
Both establishments offer their takes on ramen. It would be unfair to compare the two. Both are good with a capital G.
Eater mapped out the 15 best ramen places in the Chicago area. All of them received good reviews from various media sources.
Like its Vietnamese cousin, pho, people have their favorite go to ramen places. Some wax poetic over their one and only place to eat.
There is one asset all good ramen places share. Knowledgeable staff. Since the menus are large and sometimes confusing, good ramen restaurants have staff who can guide you to the best dishes or best dishes that day. Do not be afraid to ask questions. How else are you going to get the good stuff?
Then there are the how to’s. It seems everyone is an expert on how to eat ramen. How do you eat ramen? Anyway you can enjoy it. But, slurping is best. It is the easiest and best way to savor all the flavor and textures. Do not worry about what others might think of you or etiquette drummed into you.
Slurp your ramen. You do not have to do it like a pro. Just slurp away and enjoy. Oh, and drinking broth from the bowl is encouraged. Forget about being appropriate- whatever that means. Furiously slurp your ramen.