I’ve eaten as much ramen as any other college student but I’d never thought about it as serious food until my sister took me to Ippudo in NYC where I had the Best. Ramen. Ever. That dish of ramen showed me how amazing and flavorful and comforting a bowl of soup could be.
A couple years ago, I happened to be in Chicago and woke up on a 30 degree day with visions of steamy ramen noodles filling my head. I scouted around Chicago and found the best ramen noodle place that was nowhere near me. Figuring that Chicago was my city and I could find my way anywhere, I took the train and then started walking and I think I walked 2 miles before I found Urban Belly.
Fortunately the ramen was as incredible as I expected – slices of pork belly and radishes and mushrooms and tons of noodles immersed in a broth made with star anise and chilies. So great. I actually took a picture of my soup with my new Polaroid camera to mark the moment. That’s how strongly I felt about those noodles. I still have the picture so if anyone needs to see it, just let me know.
I had a similar “Come to Ramen” moment just recently in Bellingham and my sister took me to the Dashi noodle bar.
If only every garage entrance could be a Dashi noodle bar, the world would be a much more comforting place.
Dashi combines some of my favorite food elements: choices and condiments. You choose your broth, meat, add-ins (eggs, etc.) and noodles
And then you pile on the condiments – homemade siracha, cilantro, pickled jalapenos, kimchi, peanuts. And then add a few more – daikon, sambal and lime.
And dig in. Mind-blowingly amazing. Cold grey day. Hot slurpy soup. Nothing better.
I had the ramen noodles, beef broth, pork belly and eggs and thought I had the best bowl of soup possible until Julia – the Dashi Mistress of Soup – made her own lunch while I watched. She had udon noodles, tofu, bacon, mushroom and beef broth, and forkful after forkful of kimchi. She added a giant pinch of cilantro, heaping spoons of sambal, siracha and lime on everything, a shake of this and pinch of that and it looked like a bowl of heaven.
Next time I go to Dashi, I’m letting Julia make my soup. I recommend you do the same.