Ramen "Week" - yeah, whatever
So how about Ramen Month? No, month's almost over. Ramen Q1?
Random musings on food and life in Orange County, California.
You're looking at a sesame and cashew brittle I picked up at Van's Bakery. It's nothing like the clodgy, too-thick pistachio brittle I make that puts me at risk of dental reconstruction. I hang my head in shame. Van's diaphanous candy just barely cements the lightly toasted sesame seeds and cashew pieces into an impossibly thin crisp.
Most of the toppings are typically Japanese: the chashu, hardboiled egg, bean sprouts, and scallions. The delicous, fried crunchy bits of garlic are an atypical, probably Viet influence. Oki Doki bills itself as a pan-Asian restaurant with touches from Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese cuisine. Some of these international items are good, like the Korean seafood pancakes and the Vietnamese Imperial egrolls. Avoid the stir fried Chinese dishes, however.
This place is Japanese owned, so ask the wait staff to guide you their Japanese izakaya specialities if you go for dinner. The lunch menu is more limited. Izakaya are pubs where small dishes are served to share with your drinking companions. The menu of daily specials is usually good. Of these, I like the eggplant sauteed with ground pork and red chili powder. It's a version of mabo dofu, called mabo nasu. This is a lightly spiced Japanese version of the Sichuan dish called pockmarked lady's tofu, minus the tofu and Sichuan peppercorn.But I digress. Oki Doki makes a fine ramen, especially if you prefer a lighter soup. Another nearby option: Mitae Ramen makes a very light, vegetable-rich, soy sauce flavored Tokyo ramen. Mitae is probably my least favorite because of my bias for rich, porky soup, but for you - I'll go and report back. Stay tuned as Ramen Week continues...
The cook adds another layer of obsessively flavored seasonings to this foundation. The slice of pork served with your bowl was braised in a soy sauce based liquid. Like Chinese "red cooked" pork, some of this liquid is saved to cook the next day's pork, and the rest flavors the soup broth. Like Shrek, a ramen soup has many layers.Vegetarians be advised: if yer vegetable ramen don't say it's truly vegetarian, it ain't.
A Vietnamese restaurant just opened in my neighborhood, and my first visit underwhelmed me. Really nice owner is making a go of it and I want her to succeed. But the food is overpriced for what it is, and not as good as others places. $7 for banh mi might fly in a neighborhood used to paying that much for a Quizno's sub. But any number of bakeries in Little Saigon sell a killer banh mi for $1.75.
What would Buddha do?