Ramen Cravings

Some people have ice cream cravings, and some french fries. When I want something bad, it tends to be fried chicken. I'm not sure why. Something about the crunchy, salty, fatty fried skin and juicy bite of chicken leg sends me swooning. 

Growing up, my dad dipped his fried chicken (and pretty much everything else) into ketchup. I do this now too, a learned habit, I suppose. I'm noticing both my kids now are adopting the same eccentric food habits. Like those food magazine interviews of celebrities asking what's in their fridge - mine (a girl can dream!) would be a bottle of Heinz's 57 Ketchup. Anyhoo....

For the past month, I've been having a new craving - Ramen Noodles. This obsession came after I ate at Samurai located in the same building as Uwajimaya in the ID district for the first time about a month ago. I had read many reviews on this place prior to going there. Folks just raved on and on about the ramen bar, claiming it was the BEST ramen in Seattle and comparing its authenticity to a good bowl of ramen in Japan. Of course, I had to try it...


I've gone in to Samurai four times over the past month and have now ordered the same bowl of ramen three of the four times. When I like something, I tend to not only be a repeat customer, but a repeat orderer. It's a sure thing and I like to know what I'm getting. Boring maybe, routine, ok ... I just like what I like - especially when it is GOOD! A bit of advice if you're trying to get there at lunch time - go before 11:15 a.m. Trust me - the line out the door typically begins around 11: 15 am. And the place is dime store small, so be prepared to knock knees with the other hungry patrons at the tables next to you. No need to be shy, the ramen is worth it.

The bowl I'm crazy about is called Tampopo. Based on the Tampopo movie with the same name, a ramen western about a woman in Tokyo who achieved to make the best bowl of ramen and recruited two guys to help her. A funny and weirdly charming movie.

There is absolutely nothing funny about the movie's namesake ramen served at Samurai , it's serious business. Seriously tantalizing. Sliced melt-in-your-mouth, chunky pork slices, soy sauce marinated hard boiled egg, tender bamboo shoots, tasty naruto, papery thin roasted seaweed, and green onions are the condiments. 

But the real heroes are the shoyou based soup and the noodles. Geez louise, where did they get those noodles?! Firm, robust, chewy, and just the perfect al dente-ness. Couple those perfect noodles with that briny, complex flavored soup and you have an authentic bowl of ramen.... at least in these parts. About that broth - tasting it made me think of grandma's home soup - the kind she used to boil for hours and hours. 

Tasted like home. Ya.... I could bathe in it, Samurai's soup is that good. Enough said.

A preview hint of things to come... my ramen obsession must now be cultivated at home as I can't keep driving almost 40 minutes to get my ramen hit every week. Plus, the bowls of ramen aren't cheap. If this keeps up, I might need to ask for a job there. Except once they figure out my real intentions and see that I'm always hovering over the soup pot - they'll banish me to the dish washing. 

Looks like I'll need to Tampopo it and try and make a decent imitation at home. Wish me luck, folks. I've thrown down the gauntlet to myself this week. Let's see what I come up with...

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