Aw yeah, Doug is in the hizzay! He’s under threat of imminent employment and made this last desperate roadtrip before he went back into the ranks of the wage-bound. He blessed us with his presence for the new year’s weekend, dropping in late the night before, too late for me to join in for a second round of bar moves. But we were all good the following day for new year’s eve fun.
Mac and Hannah are also in town, our friends from England, now living in Ecuador, now visiting for the holidaze. We were all going to head down to the Pescadrome for a little celebration, but we needed much food beforehand. Mac and Ted have fond memories of Edomasa, so that’s where we went.
After starting with the Edomasa traditional mug of green tea and sunomono salad, Doug went with the pork ramen. Meeeeh, we weren’t that crazy about it. It was loaded with ginger (good!) and pepper (bad!). Like, seriously lots of pepper, it was overwhelming. If that’s how it’s done here, then no thank you. Doug made a valiant attempt at eating his stuff, though.
The boys and I splurged on sushi, and we shared a whole mess of it, which also allowed Doug to dip in to supplement his pepper ramen.
We got the sushi and sashimi combo, times 2. One with California roll, the other with a spicy tuna roll. The nigiri is about size items of the usual albacore, maguro, salmon, octopus, etc.
Our a la carte sushi is as follows from the top, clockwise:
Hannah got a teriyaki chicken bento box with a lot of salads. No photo. She’s been very patient putting up with Mac’s “odd” culinary desires, coming from a small village in England and having no interest in raw fish. I’m not sure she enjoyed the bento much either. But props for her giving it a try. She did, however, enjoy her mango ice cream mochi with the rest of us.
So, hey, happy new year! Goooooooo 2011.
I’ve gotten used to eating Japanese food elsewhere, I admit it.
We came to Itsuki because the first Japanese place we tried was fully booked with a 30+ minute wait, and we’re like “duh! We should go to Itsuki and have ramen!”
So I’m not saying Itsuki is bad. Deffo no. Their strong point is ramen, and I think they do the best in town. My dealio is that I rarely crave ramen these days. They also do a good, simple, cheat eats bento box. And I rarely crave that either.
But here we are, ordering a couple rolls and a bowl of ramen. The first roll is a tuna roll, using brown rice by request of the kitchen as they only had enough white sushi rice for one other roll. You know what, it didn’t taste much different, so maybe it’ll be a good thing to get more brown rice in the future. Using lemon to separate the pieces was interesting – it did impart a lemon flavor to the rice, and I found the taste unusual.
The second roll was …um, er, I think it’s a soft shell crab roll. But I can’t remember! It was big.
Finally, the main item, pork ramen. It came with a few pickles on the side, and extra chile powder to shake on. The bowl is so enormous this can feed two people or stuff one to the point of bursting.
Considering the weather was cold and dreary, a big bowl of noodles really hit the spot. However! As we were eating, the waitress reminded us they were closing soon, so please put in last orders. And we were all confused. Wasn’t it just barely 9 pm? It was. And that is evidence that my routines have been set by another restaurant because I’ve gotten so used to eating Japanese food up until 11:30 eat night. So spoiled.
Wagamama noodles was one of my “splurge” meals in my poor student days. Some noodles, some edamame and an elderflower juice was easily £15, which translated to $30 given the weak dollar at the time. But I loved it. Trendy, clean, consistent quality of the noodles. Back in the day, there were only three Wagamamas in all of London, and I mainly went to the one in Soho.
The name apparently means “selfish” or something like that. You’re supposed to throw your face down into the noodle bowl and slurp it all up with no concern of politeness for rationing the food or lip smacking.
Now Wagamama is a widespread chain, with many shops all over London and beyond. This one we went to in Moorgate is like any other Wagamama. Dependable, efficient, with a staff of unknown gender preference except it’s definitely not yours.
Soup noodles are such a large portion you really can’t expect to consume the whole thing. It’s a good option during the cooler months when a hot spicy soup will warm you up.
My preference is the amai udon, #43, and has been for years. Pan-fried udon noodles with fried tofu, prawns, spring onion, mungbean sprouts, tamarind sauce and crushed peanuts. The only sad part of the dish is the lime wedge, which is often dry and mealy and yields perhaps a single drop of lime juice to dress the dish. But it’s expected – this is hardly the Mediterranean.
My beverage, while normally the elderflower presse, was freshly made carrot and ginger juice. I thought that was best after the long flight.
My dining companions got the toropikaru senzai ramen, and the yaki soba.
I like the details of the interior. Hooks on the wall to hang a jacket, hooks under the table to hang a handbag, and the table under the table to place whatever you can’t manage to hang. All this to keep the tables streamlined and clear of the disorganized baggage we hang off ourselves daily.
Our final stop on the mad dash through Alder’s cluster of food carts. All we could manage was some spicy ramyan noodles. And we were done. Ooof!
#1 Bento (Southwest, downtown)
Ramen night was inspired by dinner at the Dutch Gardens, namely the Eisbein dish because it came with a large ham bone in the center. That made Ted want to make soup stock, for ramen. And thus it began.
I have no record of the stock making process, as that took place at Ted’s home, but apparently it smelled very nice during that time. I saw the stock a week or two later, as a solid jelled mass, just before the soup and noodles were assembled. We made a night of it. I believe there was sake.
I brought in two kinds of Korean banchan, from my grand food expeditions in San Diego. Black beans in soy, and spiced chewy squid. We nibbled on those throughout the evening. Then, the first part of the assemblage: adding the noodles. Ooooh.
Next we added the nori and char siu, two kinds of pork. One was homemade with pork loin, one store bought from the Bay Area. And adding the sliced bamboo shoots.
And here is the crowning glory. Ramen!