The Search Begins.

When Maya went on her ramen rant last March, I humbly admit that I just didn’t get it. I know that New York is the trend-setter in food, but I also know that historically, things that are popular are not always good. (Atkins diet comes to mind.) Ramen noodles in broth with pieces of this-and-that dumped in? It turns out that this trend is one I hope lasts. And makes its way to the C-bus.

As soon as she met me at LaGuardia, Maya started in. “Do you think you’ll want ramen? I was thinking about ramen. How do you feel about ramen?” Although I’d seen her pictures from Ippudo, and read a little about the craze, I kept envisioning those dried-up three-for-a-dollar guys that sustained me in college. But I trusted Maya’s taste and faked interest in the stuff, promising that I wouldn’t leave the city without a trip to Ippudo. When I saw the line out the door on a Sunday afternoon (we’re talking 1:30-ish, not prime time eating here), I knew I was in for a treat.

She insisted that we have pork buns before the noodles. I’d imagined a wheat-like roll with a piece of pork inside, similar to something I’d had on a plane ride in Cambodia. (Okay, smirk if you want. Pork buns = pork in a bun. It makes sense to my midwestern mind.) Instead we got these. Oh pork, how I love thee.

Before I talk about the actual ramen, let me say this. These bowls are big. As soon as my lunch was in front of me, I quickly conceded that $13 for a bowl of what I thought would be soup was quite fair.

I ordered the special and added kakuni, or braised pork belly to the mix. Soft boiled egg, salty pork- and chicken-spiked thick broth, tender noodles, mushrooms and scallions came together in this giant bowl of love. There’s no doubt that these noodles are handmade; a quick jaunt downstairs (near the facilities) features a room with a tiny window showcasing the hero of the hour – the noodle maker – a person, not a machine.

Maya and the Carnivore each had a bowl of Maya’s favorite, Akamaru Modern, featuring the restaurant’s special garlic-drenched sauce, pork, cabbage and a few veggies.  Frankly, I liked mine better.

And so, I begin the search for something similar in Columbus. I don’t expect handmade noodles or a line of hipsters out the door, but I want to have something like this again, and I don’t want to have to go to New York to do it. Suggestions, Columbus foodies?

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6 thoughts on “The Search Begins.

  1. Maya says:

    I’ll have you know that I’ve finally had enough of the Akamaru Modern to order something else; our visit together put me over the edge. I stopped in this week and had the Shiromaru Hakata Classic, and it was gooood. See for yourself: http://bit.ly/5rpS1X

  2. bethia says:

    You ordered pork belly?! I’m shocked.

    Poong Mei (Spring of China) make their own noodles, and have some noodle soup dishes. http://poongmei.com/xe/menu/noodle

    I know that Akai Hana has ramen and I had a tempura topped soup there that was really good. I think many of the top end Japanese restaurants would be worth trying – Sushi Bistro Masa, Kihachi etc.

  3. Jill says:

    I was hoping that you’d give me a list, Bethia! Looks like I have some work to do.

  4. Baseball Boy says:

    Bethia,

    As a bit of an aside regarding Japanese cuisine in Columbus; One of my coworkers is from Japan, and claims that Masa, Kihachi, and Yoshi’s Japanese Restaurant in Dublin are the best and most authentic Japanese restaurants in town.

    Masa and Yoshi are where he goes on his own dime, Kihachi is where he goes when someone else is paying.

  5. shannon says:

    okay, having seen the pictures of how good it looks, i also now ‘get’ your fixation… so just let me know when you’re going again miss maya :) i’m in.

  6. Maya says:

    I knew you’d come around! I tend to drop in spur-of-the-moment-style, but I’ll definitely give you the heads up next time around.

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