Ramen Season

Ramen
Shoyu Ramen with braised pork belly chashu.

As the days grow shorter and the kids are back in class, I am reminded once again as I wake up in the dark that fall is here and soon the ground will be blanketed in snow. As a chef, I have gotten used to a lot of the expectations of a life in the industry and so have the remaining friends I still have. Summer is basically another revenue opportunity focusing on outdoor events, inventing exciting new dishes, servicing overheating equipment, hot and hungry crowds, and part time summer students. As we switch gears again for the new season, we find ourselves with a couple of new additions to the team to cover the days that the students have now vacated. In addition, we are finding that the hungry masses are craving for that deep down, soul warming bowl of love called ramen.

Though our regular guests are always down for ramen any time of year, fall’s cooler weather call for more layers, frost scrapers, scarves, and a bowl of the good stuff. Noodles are my favourite. Since as long as I can remember, they’ve always held a nostalgic place in my heart. Whether they’re steamed, boiled, or stirfried I love the chewy bounce and the playful nature of these wonderful things. When I was six I remember saying that my favourite food was “Busgetti”. When my daughter was 3, her favourite pasta, macaroni was, “crackanoody”.

Fast forward to today and my current obsession with ramen, brought on by one of my all-time favourite food movies, Tampopo. At the time, the movie’s romantic look at Japanese food, and more intimately, ramen was an epiphany to me. It was also something at the time that I thought I could never do. It was the work of Jedi masters. Thank goodness for patience, a few good books like David Chang’s Momofuku and Ivan Orkin’s Ivan Ramen that I credit for the basic knowledge, and Anthony Myint’s Mission Street Food that supplied me with the confidence to break out and convince myself that I could make a business on my own terms with practically nothing. It’s satisfying to see someone at the bar after coming in from the cold lay down their gloves, peruse a magazine, and ready their chopsticks as we put the finishing touches on a steaming bowl of shoyu or chili miso, positioning the glistening pork belly and onsen tamago just right as they form a mini universe in a bowl that will be just for them.

So with that said, it is my sincere hope that if you find yourself coming in from the cold, you are always welcome to a seat at the noodle bar.

-J

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