On this particular visit, I went for a glass of Otokoyama sake (dry and light at $8) and the Wasabi Shoyu Ramen special (pictured, $13). The Otokoyama arrived sitting in a small wooden box soaked in its own lush liquid. The first sip featured a slightly sweet top with a delicate bitterness to follow. The bowl of ramen arrived in a bulbous bowl and as I wafted the flavor, my nostrils burned from the vaporized wasabi.
Despite the waitress’ concern for the “very spicy dish,” I abandoned all decorum and dug in (hey it was a long day at work). At first chomp, I noticed that the noodles were NOT wasabi-noodles as I had thought; the kick was not in the noodles but rather in the broth (the chicken lost this battle). Even still, my tolerance for heat seemed as fervent as ever…that is until I dug deeper to the bottom of the bowl, scooped up a ladle of broth, and knocked it back so fast that the concentration of wasabi from the depths below hit my taste buds and shot straight up my nose. I hurt. I felt the burn the way a Swedish person feels the burn after a full day of sunshine without the SPF.
The sting of the wasabi was so potent that I reveled in its strength; who knew horseradish could kick one’s arse? The accompaniments of nori, scallions, bamboo shoots, small rice puffs, and Berkshire pork made my bowl of noodles one divine masquerade of flavor. The Berkshire pork could be an entree on its own and yes, this once vegetarian would buy it in bulk. This impromptu dinner trip made me re-appreciate the way Japanese people do things: from education to libations, the Japanese don’t skimp when quality is concerned.
At the end of my meal, a bus boy whisked away my dishes while I sat sipping the last of my sake. Then a cute waiter came by and dropped off my check along with a restorative cup of barley tea. Now this is my idea of a meal: noodle ninjas in the kitchen, a delicate glass of sake, and a cute guy delivering my tea.
Mmmm good, baby, mmmmm.