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  • Japanese Ramen

    Post #1 - November 13th, 2004, 11:08 am
    Post #1 - November 13th, 2004, 11:08 am Post #1 - November 13th, 2004, 11:08 am
    There was a great article in the New York Times food section this week about the explosion of ramen shops in New York. The pictures were true food porn - everything looked too delicious to be real. I was wondering if any of you, the uber-knowledgeable, knew of any places in Chicago that specialized in fresh ramen. That Japanese mall up in Arlington Heights? Are there any Japanese restaurants that do it well?
  • Post #2 - November 13th, 2004, 11:55 am
    Post #2 - November 13th, 2004, 11:55 am Post #2 - November 13th, 2004, 11:55 am
    There's been no corresponding surge in authertic ramen-shops in Chicago like the one described in the NYT piece (which was spectacular). However, that said, there are a number of places that serve a tasty version. Tampopo is the first choice, and although the ramen isn't perfect, (i don't think they make their own noodles or pork) it's quite good. Tampopo has been discussed at length on this board and on chowhound. Here are a couple of links:

    http://www.lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.ph ... ht=tampopo
    http://www.chowhound.com/midwest/boards ... /2879.html
    http://www.chowhound.com/midwest/boards ... /9759.html

    And then there is Mitsuwa Marketplace's food court, which has among other things, a ramen stall. But the ramen there is even further down the tasty scale than Tampopo's. However, if you go there, you have the bonus opportunity of eating the Hippo Bakery ice cream, which is really special.

    Tampopo
    5665 N Lincoln Ave.
    Chicago, IL
    773-561-2277
  • Post #3 - November 13th, 2004, 7:44 pm
    Post #3 - November 13th, 2004, 7:44 pm Post #3 - November 13th, 2004, 7:44 pm
    New Japan Inn near the intersection of Clark and Division offers several ramen options. Also tastingmenu.com ran an overview of ramen in Japan several months ago.
  • Post #4 - November 13th, 2004, 8:35 pm
    Post #4 - November 13th, 2004, 8:35 pm Post #4 - November 13th, 2004, 8:35 pm
    Hi,

    Just to wet your appetite further for soup noodles, rent the movie 'Tampopo,' which is entirely based on the effort to reach soup noodle perfection. Watch it twice because there are lots of sub-stories which are not always easy to piece together on the first view.

    Tampopo in Japanese means Daisy, the name of the title character.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #5 - November 14th, 2004, 12:49 pm
    Post #5 - November 14th, 2004, 12:49 pm Post #5 - November 14th, 2004, 12:49 pm
    Hi Cathy, I agree, the movie is spectactular. Although I thought Tampopo meant "dandelion" not "daisy".

    Seth
  • Post #6 - November 14th, 2004, 12:50 pm
    Post #6 - November 14th, 2004, 12:50 pm Post #6 - November 14th, 2004, 12:50 pm
    Hi Seth,

    Oh! You are right. I knew it and I blew it!

    C2
  • Post #7 - November 14th, 2004, 2:02 pm
    Post #7 - November 14th, 2004, 2:02 pm Post #7 - November 14th, 2004, 2:02 pm
    Seth Zurer wrote:Hi Cathy, I agree, the movie is spectactular. Although I thought Tampopo meant "dandelion" not "daisy".

    Seth

    Seth,

    Tampopo is one of my very favorite movies. I've enjoyed all of the Juzo Itami I seen, The Funeral, A Taxing Woman, A Taxing Woman returns, but Tampopo is my hands down favorite.

    Little bit of Tamopop trivia, Nobuko Miyamoto, who plays Tampopo and is the lead in a number of Itami's other movies, is Juzo Itami's wife. Or should I say was, as Juzo Itami is no longer among the living.

    Tampopo, rent it today, buy it tomorrow.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

    Low & Slow
  • Post #8 - November 14th, 2004, 6:06 pm
    Post #8 - November 14th, 2004, 6:06 pm Post #8 - November 14th, 2004, 6:06 pm
    I was fortunate to eat at a first rate Ramen place in Vancouver this summer called Kitaro. They have about eight tables and serve 4 or 5 kinds of ramen soup, a few apps, and not much else. As I recall, the noodles were cooked for each order, and each bowl was assembled just before serving, so all the textures were perfect. The broth, of course, is the key to it all, and great care obviously went into making it. A place like this would be a great addition to Chicago's dining. It's quite labor intensive. The two cooks behind the counter were working like madmen through a busy lunch hour. Given the low price ($6 or $7 canadian for a large bowl), I think you need heavy volume to make a place like this work.
  • Post #9 - August 28th, 2005, 11:30 pm
    Post #9 - August 28th, 2005, 11:30 pm Post #9 - August 28th, 2005, 11:30 pm
    The first ramen noodles I ever enjoyed was at Cho Sun Ok, or its predecessor, in 1971 at Lincoln and Berteau. My Dad’s office was next door where the odors of fermenting kimchee could be easily smelled. My Dad and I loved the exotic Korean restaurant and were the only patrons from the enterprise next door. My Dad’s Filipino financial manager Toni could never understand how we could pay so much money for ramen. Out of frustration one day she bought me a package of ramen noodles so I could now begin to make this at home. When I saw the price of the ramen noodles for less than a quarter and I was paying several dollars for the noodles next door; I understood her comments. Still I loved the composition of the noodles next door, thereafter I still visited the restaurant AND made it at home!

    I’m also a fan of the Japanese ramen noodle movie Tampopo, where the entire movie evolves around the pursuit of the making the perfect ramen noodle soup.

    Last weekend, I went to Mitsuwa’s food court for a light meal. I arrived before 11 AM when all the food court restaurants are open, so my choices were limited to the not well patronized dim sum stall or the ramen stall I had never visited before with a steady stream of customers. Of course, the all-ramen soup stand reminded me of the railway station ramen noodle stand in Tampopo. The lesson illustrated at the train station was how to address accurately each order of ramen noodles in a high speed, high pressure environment without loosing composure or serving the wrong bowl of soup.

    Image

    When I read the menu, I learned there were three types of ramen available: salt ramen, soy sauce ramen and miso ramen. The noodles were the same the variation was in the broths: salt, soy sauce and miso. There were two types of pork meat you could select: Chasu (pork) or Toroniku (special pork). Once you made your selection of broth and meat, then your soup was priced on the size of your bowl: small, regular and large.

    Santonka offers combo orders, which include soup, rice with various toppings and flavored egg. All were illustrated in the Japanese style of plastic display food.

    Image

    I choose Combo B from the display, which was small soy sauce ramen, rice with salmon roe and flavored egg.

    Display of Combo B:
    Image

    I amended the combo to a larger miso ramen, which I shared with my Mother:

    Combo B as served recently:
    Image

    My Mother suggested the flavored egg was a tea egg. Not quite a tea egg, though it had certainly been steeping in a soy-sauce based liquid. I like salmon roe quite a bit, which for me was the deciding factor on this combo. I initially tried to mix the roe with the rice, however the sticky quality of the roe just didn’t permit it. So I’d tease some roe from the larger mass and eat it with the rice. The miso ramen with two generous slices of pork was simply the best ramen I’ve had since I discovered ramen over 30 years ago.

    I was so impressed by my experience, I wanted to return last Monday with my Mom and friend Helen to allow us to order all three broth variants. Unfortunately Santonka closes at 7:30 PM, which led me to Chicago and dinner at Chicago Kalbi. I mentioned to Chiyoko, hostess-owner of Chicago Kalbi, the ramen at Mitsuwa. She had visited it earlier. She admitted it was quite good, though not as good as one can have in Japan. She indicated her husband, chef-owner of Chicago Kalbi, offers ramen soup as a special during the winter. Chiyoko felt her husband’s ramen soup was better than what Santonka offers. I will certainly try it when it is available this winter until then I am just pining to return to Santonka for the best ramen I have experienced so far.

    Chicago Kalbi Restaurant
    3752 West Lawrence Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60625
    Tel: 773/604-8183

    Wednesday-Monday: 5 PM to Midnight
    Closed Tuesdays

    Santonka at the food court in
    Mitsuwa Japanese Market
    100 East Algonquin Road
    Arlington Heights, IL 60005
    847-956-6699

    Daily: 10:30 AM to 7:30 PM
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #10 - August 29th, 2005, 12:49 pm
    Post #10 - August 29th, 2005, 12:49 pm Post #10 - August 29th, 2005, 12:49 pm
    SUPRISE! SUPRISE!

    i always walk by this place when i go to my korean grandma "barber" next door. she moved to this location about a year or so ago when she relocated from next to the garden buffet just a bit more south of lincoln. the first time i passed by tampopo, i instantly thought of juzo itami's surprisingly erotic and strange yet deliciously delightful gastric masterpiece.

    however i've always been a bit hesitant to step inside. now i'm starving for some japanese style ramen especially since it's a short walk for me, and of course of the great reviews on the food. (no more driving all the way out to mitsuwa just to get some ramen, of course unless i need to stock up on my supply of umeboshi and calpisu water! ^_^)

    anyone know if they're open on mondays? i've tried calling just a short while ago with no answer. it would be great if i could swing by afterwork to get some good ramen and some sushi.
  • Post #11 - August 29th, 2005, 1:39 pm
    Post #11 - August 29th, 2005, 1:39 pm Post #11 - August 29th, 2005, 1:39 pm
    [quote="G Wiv"]

    [quote="Seth Zurer"]Hi Cathy, I agree, the movie is spectactular. Although I thought Tampopo meant "dandelion" not "daisy".

    Seth[/quote]

    Seth,

    Tampopo is one of my very favorite movies. I've enjoyed all of the Juzo Itami I seen, The Funeral, A Taxing Woman, A Taxing Woman returns, but Tampopo is my hands down favorite.

    Little bit of Tamopop trivia, Nobuko Miyamoto, who plays Tampopo and is the lead in a number of Itami's other movies, is Juzo Itami's wife. Or should I say was, as Juzo Itami is no longer among the living.

    Tampopo, rent it today, buy it tomorrow.

    Enjoy,
    Gary[/quote]

    Another movie but unrelated to Ramen is "The Audition", maybe the creepiest Japanese movie ever. :roll:
  • Post #12 - August 29th, 2005, 5:02 pm
    Post #12 - August 29th, 2005, 5:02 pm Post #12 - August 29th, 2005, 5:02 pm
    I don't think I'd recommend Takashi Miike's Audition to the same audience as Tampopo. FYI: Miike's ouvre contains many more interesting flicks than Odoshon; Happiness of the Katakuris(probably, his most lighthearted), Ichi the Killer, Visitor Q, Gozu...and on and on.
  • Post #13 - September 3rd, 2005, 9:51 pm
    Post #13 - September 3rd, 2005, 9:51 pm Post #13 - September 3rd, 2005, 9:51 pm
    Kitakata (Arlington Heights) is less than a mile from Mitsuwa and cheap! They offer a range of delicious and authentic Japanese ramen in addition to the other Japanese fare such as unagi, sukiyaki and some makis.

    Kitakata
    206 E. Golf Road
    Arlington Heights, IL 60005
    847-364-7544
    "There is no love sincerer than the love of food." - George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) Irish writer.
  • Post #14 - September 4th, 2005, 11:54 pm
    Post #14 - September 4th, 2005, 11:54 pm Post #14 - September 4th, 2005, 11:54 pm
    marias23,

    Just out of curiosity, did you try the ramen noodles offered at the food court at Mitsuwa as well? How do they compare to those at Kitakata? How long have you been going to Kitakata?

    Thanks!
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #15 - September 6th, 2005, 9:53 am
    Post #15 - September 6th, 2005, 9:53 am Post #15 - September 6th, 2005, 9:53 am
    i've only been to kitakata three times in the last few months. kitakata's serving size is slightly bigger and has more meat while their prices are about the same! i love this particular ramen dish (i forgot the name) that contains some spiced ground meat (maybe pork?). soooo delish!!!
    "There is no love sincerer than the love of food." - George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) Irish writer.
  • Post #16 - September 11th, 2005, 11:11 pm
    Post #16 - September 11th, 2005, 11:11 pm Post #16 - September 11th, 2005, 11:11 pm
    Cathy2 refering to pork cuts available at Santonka at the food court in Mitsuwa Japanese Market wrote:There were two types of pork meat you could select: Chasu (pork) or Toroniku (special pork).


    I went to Mitsuwa for lunch today to try more Ramen soups. This time I had the soy sauce broth, which was good but not as good as the Miso, which I found I prefer. CrazyC prefers the soy sauce broth, so this is really a matter of taste rather than anything else. Next time, I will be trying the salt broth to complete the trio.

    I did get an explanation on the two types of pork offered:
    - Toroniku (special pork) is a very tender meat from the pig's cheeks.
    - Chasu (pork) is from the pork's side with veins of fat running through it.

    When we walked into Mitsuwa today, their specially presented foods were sponge cakes and various fried cakes. Since they were selling sponge cakes and not offering samples, we walked past them to the fried cakes booth which was offering samples. We tried fish cake initially, which was ground fish pureed to an immulsion, formed, frozen, breaded and fried. I didn't particularly like the texture though the taste was very good.

    When I was at Takkatsu with CrazyC recently, I was especially charmed by the Crab Croquettes. At the fried things table at Mitsuwa, I got to try a full range of items which rivaled this crab croquette. We had creamed corn croquette plus other croquettes of creamed crab, crab cake, camembert, pumpkin and maybe a half dozen other items. We stood there for a few minutes checking out the full range before buying some to eat with our lunch.

    After lunch, I passed the Korean food booth which now (or did it always?) have a glass window allowing you to watch the action in the kitchen. Initially, they were sauteeing bulgogi, which wasn't too exciting, and preparing some beastly red soup, which seemed to be octopus though it may have been rice cakes from looking at the picture menu.

    What did get me excited is when they placed a stone vessel on the stove to make some type of dolsot. Once it was warmed, they added a generous quantity of oil, then a little while later a premeasured bowl of white rice. It was a great ah-ha moment, which I was a little late in pulling out my camera though I did get a snap of the cook arranging the vegetables to warm from the steam venting through the rice.

    Image

    Next time I will order some food there, park my chair by the window and watch them cook. One could learn a few Korean cooking tips by hanging out there.

    The Korean food stall is located on the left corner by the hallway leading to the public phones and restrooms.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #17 - September 11th, 2005, 11:29 pm
    Post #17 - September 11th, 2005, 11:29 pm Post #17 - September 11th, 2005, 11:29 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:What did get me excited is when they placed a stone vessel on the stove to make some type of dolsot. Once it was warmed, they added a generous quantity of oil, then a little while later a premeasured bowl of white rice. It was a great ah-ha moment...

    Cathy,
    They serve several of their dishes, including the 'deluxe' bi bim bap, in the stone bowls placed into scorched wooden holders. I'm still not sure what made the deluxe version 'better' (since I didn't buy both for comparison) other than the spiffy hot bowl.
    Joel
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #18 - September 12th, 2005, 2:05 pm
    Post #18 - September 12th, 2005, 2:05 pm Post #18 - September 12th, 2005, 2:05 pm
    CrazyC prefers the soy sauce broth, so this is really a matter of taste rather than anything else.


    I was at Mitsuwa this past weekend too! See Cathy! Great minds think alike. I had the ramen and was disappointed. The shoyu broth was really oily! Maybe I should try the other broths to see if I like them better. But generally, I am a shoyu ramen kinda gal.

    Speaking of ramen, I will be visiting Japan this Xmas/New Years, and on my list of places to visit is the Ramen Museum in Yokohama. Yes, there is a museum dedicated to ramen! And another dedicated to.... (drum roll)... Curry! But in this ramen museum, there is a replica of an old town of Tokyo, featuring 9 ramen stalls. Each stall serves up ramen from different regions of Japan. How cool is that!
  • Post #19 - September 12th, 2005, 8:17 pm
    Post #19 - September 12th, 2005, 8:17 pm Post #19 - September 12th, 2005, 8:17 pm
    I didn't know the Korean place at Mitsuwa made dolsot bibimbap! Thanks for the information!

    Just had home-made bibimbap for dinner--very tasty, but I'm too terrified (and ill-equipped) to try making a hot pot like that at home. The thing would probably explode in my face or something...
  • Post #20 - September 12th, 2005, 8:20 pm
    Post #20 - September 12th, 2005, 8:20 pm Post #20 - September 12th, 2005, 8:20 pm
    The Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum is a deeply cool place. We waited more than an hour to get in, though, and then all the ramen booths inside had long lines, too. (This was Golden Week, though, so it might be better at another time.)

    If I can dig out our photos and get the scanner working, I'll see about posting some.
  • Post #21 - September 12th, 2005, 11:26 pm
    Post #21 - September 12th, 2005, 11:26 pm Post #21 - September 12th, 2005, 11:26 pm
    CrazyC wrote:See Cathy! Great minds think alike.


    :D

    I googled shoyu ramen to double check this is also soy sauce broth, right? I didn't particularly like my soy sauce broth, if anything on this occasion it struck me as too salty.

    I'm looking forward to your comments on the ramen museum. It really makes a hike up to Wisconsin to see the Mustard Museum seem so pedestrian!

    publicblast wrote:I'm too terrified (and ill-equipped) to try making a hot pot like that at home. The thing would probably explode in my face or something...


    Before Chicago Food Corp on Pulaski burned down last year, I kept checking out their stone dolsot containers. I felt the same as you principally from lack of information on how to use them. You will learn quite a lot from watching them prepare it at the Korean booth. It will give you the boost of confidence to just do it!

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #22 - October 7th, 2005, 6:28 pm
    Post #22 - October 7th, 2005, 6:28 pm Post #22 - October 7th, 2005, 6:28 pm
    :lol: @ Cathy2's pix...

    I saw just the 'No Pictures' sign @ Mitsuwa's yesterday...
  • Post #23 - October 7th, 2005, 7:59 pm
    Post #23 - October 7th, 2005, 7:59 pm Post #23 - October 7th, 2005, 7:59 pm
    TonyC wrote::lol: @ Cathy2's pix...

    I saw just the 'No Pictures' sign @ Mitsuwa's yesterday...


    Really? I hope the sign is in Japanese so I can claim ignorance!
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #24 - October 8th, 2005, 4:33 pm
    Post #24 - October 8th, 2005, 4:33 pm Post #24 - October 8th, 2005, 4:33 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:
    TonyC wrote::lol: @ Cathy2's pix...

    I saw just the 'No Pictures' sign @ Mitsuwa's yesterday...


    Really? I hope the sign is in Japanese so I can claim ignorance!


    I wonder if the good old American sentiment "Its easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission" is understood in Japanese culture :)
  • Post #25 - August 20th, 2006, 10:56 pm
    Post #25 - August 20th, 2006, 10:56 pm Post #25 - August 20th, 2006, 10:56 pm
    Hi,

    At the Santonka Ramen Soup booth at Mitsuwa's food court, I ordered today the Spicy Ramen with Special Pork for $9.99 as recommended sometime ago by Erik M:

    Image

    As Erik M promised, the soup is not very spicy though it is certainly full flavored. The special pork is braised pork to silky soft, supple and very porky. The ramen noodles were properly cooked without any unnecessary toughness or overcooked gumminess.

    I ordered a la carte the rice with salmon roe and a flavored egg. I tried to order the rice with salmon roe and crab flakes. The counterlady advised the crab flakes are available at their shops in Japan, though not in the United States.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #26 - August 21st, 2006, 9:14 am
    Post #26 - August 21st, 2006, 9:14 am Post #26 - August 21st, 2006, 9:14 am
    the newly reopened Tensuke in Arl Heights makes a decent tonkotsu ramen.
  • Post #27 - August 21st, 2006, 11:02 am
    Post #27 - August 21st, 2006, 11:02 am Post #27 - August 21st, 2006, 11:02 am
    Katsu serves ramen but you have to ask for their separate ramen menu because they dont give it voluntarily.
  • Post #28 - August 21st, 2006, 12:24 pm
    Post #28 - August 21st, 2006, 12:24 pm Post #28 - August 21st, 2006, 12:24 pm
    HI,

    Chicago Kalbi also serves Ramen soup as a special.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #29 - July 14th, 2007, 6:03 pm
    Post #29 - July 14th, 2007, 6:03 pm Post #29 - July 14th, 2007, 6:03 pm
    Japanese take bath in Ramen -- and I don't know why:

    http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/offbeat/2007/07/13/vo.japan.raman.noodel.bath.reuters
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #30 - January 14th, 2009, 7:04 pm
    Post #30 - January 14th, 2009, 7:04 pm Post #30 - January 14th, 2009, 7:04 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:At the Santonka Ramen Soup booth at Mitsuwa's food court, I ordered today the Spicy Ramen with Special Pork for $9.99 as recommended sometime ago by Erik M:

    Image

    As Erik M promised, the soup is not very spicy though it is certainly full flavored. The special pork is braised pork to silky soft, supple and very porky. The ramen noodles were properly cooked without any unnecessary toughness or overcooked gumminess.

    I ordered a la carte the rice with salmon roe and a flavored egg.


    For sometime the Spicy Ramen with Special Pork, flavored egg and rice with salmon roe has been my standard order. I was at Santonka just before Christmas ready to order my favorite, except they have stopped offering rice with salmon roe. There was no indication this will return to the menu, which disappoints me. I had instead the rice with spring onions (which may not be the precise name), which was fine enough but not as decadent as the salmon roe.

    Image

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast

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