Category Archives: Ramen

The First Time

It’s always better the first time around – more exciting, more memorable, more fun. That first time you try out that new restaurant, and it then becomes your favorite. That first time you take a mouthful of the ramen, and the springiness of the noodles and the richness of the broth is forever ingrained in your food memories. That first time you meet someone new over a meal, and time just flies like the conversation is endless. When the second time comes around, it is less exciting. You know what to expect, you discovered most of what is new about the person, the place, the thing. It is that uncertainty, whether it will truly be as good as everyone says it is or be a complete disappointment, that makes the first time so great. Treasure the first time, savor the moment, because it will only happen once.

These are my first moments at the following restaurants in Chicago. Even though the food may be the same the second time around, it will never exactly feel or taste the same as the very first time.

Vinci – Lincoln Park

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I came here with my sister to use a Groupon deal that I bought a while ago. $20 for $40 to spend at an Italian restaurant, count me in! I got the Spinach pappardelle – hand-made spinach pappardelle with roast duck, mushrooms, ovendried tomatoes, truffle oil, parmigiano. I loved the noodles. It definitely tasted very fresh. The slight chewiness and springiness of the noodles were perfect. The meal was great, and we even got a table right next to the window. A lot of the guests at Vinci that night were there for a pre-show dinner. I wish I knew about this show that was going on, because I would have liked to go.

Wasabi – Logan Square

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My friend invited me here, because her friend from NYC was visiting Chicago for the week. I am a huge fan of ramen restaurants if you haven’t noticed already, and I was excited about trying another ramen place in Chicago. I’ve had some pretty excellent ramen in NYC, but none that have really stood out to me in Chicago. This place was excellent. As good as or even better than the places in NYC. I loved it! I got the Tonkotsu Ramen – egg noodle, rich pork broth, berkshire pork cheek, soft boiled egg, marinated bamboo shoot, scallion, sesame, kikurage mushroom. The thing that makes or breaks a bowl of ramen is the broth, and this broth was spectacular. I was tempted to drink all of the broth after I finished my noodles! I loved the richness of the broth. The ingredients in the ramen were also quite tasty. The soft boiled egg, which isn’t quite as runny as a poached egg, but not quite as solid as a hard boiled egg, was the perfect texture for the ramen. 

The Girl and the Goat – West Loop

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My friends have been raving about this place for a while, and I finally got to try it. This restaurant owned by a Top Chef contestant is known for having one of the best foods in Chicago. I had high expectations for this place, and I was not disappointed. The small plates are meant to be shared, but my friends and I weren’t too hungry. We each ordered one dish. I ordered the scallops served with squash, onions, and other ingredients. The scallops were so soft. I took the first bite, and I couldn’t believe what I was eating. These are the best scallop I ever had! I hope the next time I go, the scallops will be as good as I remembered it being.

Cafe Iberico – River North

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I came here to meet up with a Georgetown friend who just recently moved to Chicago for his job. I am so excited more fellow Georgetown Hoyas are here in the city! Cafe Iberico is a Spanish tapas restaurant. The highlight of the meal in my opinion was the Iberico Styled Paella – chicken, pork, and rice baked in a pan with saffron sauce. All of the flavors from the meat and seafood infused into the rice making a fragrant and delicious dish. I could eat this for lunch any day!

My firsts with all four of these restaurants were spectacular. I don’t know what the second time will be like, but I hope if I return again it will be good as the first time.

 

 

Finally Got Some Fried Chicken

There were many food adventures this week, but the most memorable was the trek to get some fried chicken. I’ve been craving fried chicken for such a long time, and nothing was going to stop me from getting some. The crispiness of the skin and the moist, juiciness of the meat are too much to resist. Read about my fried chicken adventure and others as well.

Harold’s Chicken Shack – South Loop, Chicago

We tried to go to Harold’s Chicken Shack after a concert in Millennium park. It was around 8PM, and Harold’s doesn’t close till 9PM.  We rushed all the way to Harold’s Chicken Shack ready for some fried chicken. only to be stopped at the entrance by a very large bouncer. Turns out there was a private event at Harold’s Chicken Shack that Friday night. My friends and I were baffled. If you take a look at Harold’s Chicken Shack, pictured above, you too would be surprised to find a private party being hosted there. It looks like your usual fast food joint. Definitely not somewhere you would host a party. There was even a DJ inside with people getting down on the dance floor. Unfortunately we could not get into Harold’s Chicken Shack or the party. Guess we weren’t classy enough for Harold’s Chicken Shack that night. 

After a very unfortunate night of coming back fried chicken-less, we had to go back to fulfill our fried chicken craving. We came here on a weekday afternoon, and thankfully there was no private party going on. The fried chicken was delicious. It was perfectly seasoned and fried. The meat was moist and juicy. Sometimes fried chicken is over fried, so that the meat is dry and the skin is extra crispy. Harold’s Chicken Shack was not like that at all. I’ll need to come back here for more fried chicken soon. Maybe I’ll even get invited to a private event here?

Chicago Curry House – South Loop, Chicago

Garlic Naan

Since we were sadly not invited to that private event at Harold’s Chicken Shack, we decided to go to Chicago Curry House for dinner. We started out with Garlic Naan. This was delicious! A very strong garlic taste. I love garlic. so I thoroughly enjoyed all of it. Good thing I wasn’t on a date, or else I would have reeked of garlic breath!

Chicken Curry

My friend and I split the Chicken Curry. The chicken was extremely tender and pulled apart so easily. I also really enjoyed the curry sauce. Every cuisine has that comfort food, and I can see this dish being the comfort food of Indian cuisine. It tasted very homemade in a good way.

Mitsuwa Marketplace Food Court – Arlington Heights, Illinois

Soy Sauce Ramen

I am a pretty picky ramen eater. In my previous post Slurping Turtle – McKayla Maroney:Not Impressed, I was not  satisfied with the ramen I had. This ramen was so much better. Definitely one of the better bowls of ramen I have had. The broth was flavorful without being overpowering. The pork was tender, flavorful, and really added something special to the dish. The noodles tasted fresh in a springy, chewy type of way. When you bite into the noodles, you can feel the noodles snap in your mouth. A nice bite to every mouthful of ramen noodles.

Green Tea Mousse Cake

No blog post would be complete without a dessert blurb. Recently I’ve had the biggest sweet tooth ever. Once you start eating sweets, there is no going back. We tried this Green Tea Mousse Cake from the bakery in Mitsuwa Marketplace. Since green tea is such a light flavor, sometimes green tea foods taste really weak and barely there. The green tea flavor in this cake was definitely strong. You can tell that it is green tea mousse. My favorite was their white frosting. Just the perfect amount of richness, creaminess, and sweetness. Delish!

Urban Cities Galore

Finally finished taking my nursing licensing exam. I can stop studying and begin my summer once again! Back to foodaging, blogging, and eating. Here is a little bit of some Chicago and NYC food outings I’ve been up to. Happy Summer everyone!

House of Sushi and Noodles – Lakeview, Chicago

Salmon Avocado Roll

We went here for my very good friend’s birthday dinner. Happy birthday Conny! The special thing about House of Sushi and Noodles is that they offer the option of getting sushi buffet. All you can eat sushi buffet for $18! Sounds like a pretty good deal, but to eat your money’s worth you should eat at least 4 rolls. It’s a great way to try out the many different types of rolls, but walking away with a massive food coma, food hangover, or food baby is no fun. I opted out of the buffet option and ordered off the menu. The salmon avocado roll tasted pretty normal. Like your average salmon, avocado roll which happens to be my favorite! My friends who did the buffet ate ate about 30 pieces of sushi each. That’s about 5-6 rolls! Oh dear…

Chicken Yakisoba

The Chicken Yakisoba was alright. The chicken was a little bit on the dry side, but I really enjoyed the noodles. The slight crunch, slipperiness, and saltiness of the noodles cannot be beat.

Flemings Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar – Near North Side, Chicago

Blood Orange Liquor Cocktail

My friends and I are big fans of happy hour! We came here to celebrate the end to my study madness for the nurse licensing exam. I got the blood orange liquor cocktail which was delicious. I loved the ruby red color of the drink. The slight tartness and sweetness of the drink was perfect for an extremely hot Chicago day.

I Love Paraguay – Sunnyside, Queens, New York 

From left to right- Chipa Guazu, Tortilla, Baked Chicken Empanada

I never had Paraguayan food before, and this place was really good. I got the opportunity to try many new things that really surprised my taste buds in a good way. The Chipa Guazu tasted like a moist, sweet version of corn bread. There was even actual corn inside. The Tortilla was not your usual tortilla. It was almost egg like similar to the texture of egg foo young but less moist. The Baked Chicken Empanada was great. I loved the crunchy exterior of the empanada.

Hide-Chan Ramen – Midtown East, Manhattan, New York

Hakata Tonkotsu Ramen

I was really excited to try this place since the food blog seriouseats said this was the best ramen in NYC. Unfortunately I was let down by all of the rave and excitement. The ramen here just did not taste like the best bowl of ramen. You can pick the level of richness of the broth either rich or normal. The rich broth had richer flavors and an overall increased oil and fat content compared with the normal broth. I thought the rich broth was filled with so much flavor, but at the same time the richness and oiliness was overwhelming towards the end. The main problem about this bowl of ramen for me was the noodles. You can select the firmness of the noodles ranging from soft to very firm. I got mine firm, and the firmness was great. That was not the problem. For me the problem was the size of the noodle itself. The noodle was a lot skinnier in comparison to other ramen noodles I have had. Perhaps it is just a personal preference, but I never thought the size of the noodle would be a problem for me. With skinnier noodles it did not catch as much of the broth flavor as a wider noodle. Overall the rest of the ramen was great, but without perfect noodles no ramen could be considered number one.

Bungalow Bar – Seaside, Queens, New York

stolen from google search

After a chilly day at Rockaway Beach, we were exhausted and in desperate need of food. We were in the mood for some American, and this place looked perfect. Rockaway in Queens is a completely different environment compared with the rest of New York. Being an actual island, Rockaway had a strong island atmosphere. The locals seemed to be a lot nicer and cheerier. The cars were friendlier to pedestrians. The roads are paved, but repatched so many times that it was no longer even. It seemed like I was on a tropical island far, far away from the States. Bungalow Bar was no exception. Located overlooking the water, the bar had a really great view of the water. We even got to see someone fail over and over again at water skiing. She just couldn’t stay up in the water.

Bungalow Burger

The burger was alright. Nothing exceptional. The star of the meal were the waffle fries. Seasoned well and with great crunch.

eating time

Something amusing happened today that I thought was funny. During my interview for a nursing position in Brooklyn, New York the nurse manager asked me what I do for fun. I told her that I like to eat, and that I had a food blog. She giggled at me and just smiled. I hope that’s a good sign about the interview. Guess she doesn’t get a lot of interviewees who manage food blogs. =)

Totto Ramen

Greetings from NYC! The city that never sleeps, filled with secret places, streets filled with delicious foods.

Totto Ramen 

366 W 52nd St
New York, NY 10019
Neighborhoods: Hell’s Kitchen, Midtown West, Theater District

Check out the Menu

entrance to Totto Ramen

The wait here during lunchtime on a Friday was about an hour. What a popular ramen house! No secret entrance here though. There was a clip board on the door. You put your name down, and when seats open they call out your name for you to be seated. We put our name down and wandered around the neighborhood. We got seated at the counter seats overlooking where they prepare the ramen. Best seats in the house!

Totto Chicken Paitan Ramen with Pork

Totto Chicken Paitan Ramen – These straight homemade noodles are cooked al dente style in a whole chicken and premium soy sauce based soup topped with scallion, onion, char siu pork, and a nori.

Both Joyce and I got the Totto Chicken Paitan Ramen with Pork. The best part of the ramen was the broth. The broth was delicious! Could have drank the whole bowl up. They also advertised that they did not use MSG in their broth which was reassuring. I loved the pork! The blow torched really added an extra layer of crispiness with the ramen and the broth. The noodles were a bit harder than I would have liked.

blow torched pork

This picture taken from their website. They blow torch their char slabs of boiled pork. It was really amazing watching them blow torch the pork right while we were eating.

making the broth

The make the broth in the large pots. Three large pots of broth all simmering and bubbling. This is where the magic happens.

I have been to another Ramen house in NYC called Ippudo. Check out my review of Ippudo here. I thought that Totto Ramen had slightly better or maybe comparable broth, but Ippudo had better noodles, toppings, and a more energetic environment. If I had to pick I would pick Ippudo. The upbeat, raging energetic atmosphere of Ippudo cannot be beat.

Happy Ramen smiles!

 Stars 5/5

Toki Underground

R A M E N. Toki Underground is a Taiwanese/Japanese ramen and dumpling restaurant with a defined sense of character. Bold colors, Japanese action figures made for a really fun atmosphere.

Toki Underground 

1234 H St N E
2nd Fl
Washington, DC 20002
Neighborhood: H Street Corridor/Atlas District/Near Northeast

I read on Yelp that most people who try to go to Toki Underground have to wait 2-3+ hours to get a seat. Seating is extremely limited at Toki Underground, so bringing large groups here would probably not be such a good idea. There are no table seating just stool and counter seating making for a very authentic ramen experience.

Fortunately we came here pretty late in the night. The food area opens until 12AM on Fridays which was very convenient for us.  No line, no wait time for us. We walked right up and was immediately seated at the bar. We browsed through the menu, and we all decided to get the Toki Hakata Classic Ramen.

Toki Hakata Classic Ramen

The Toki Hakata Classic Ramen with pork loin, egg, and pickled ginger was really great! I think the thing that really makes a bowl of ramen exceptionally good is the broth, and this broth was fantastic. Flavorful without being too overpowering. I really enjoyed the poached egg that came with the ramen. The softness and delicate character of the egg really brought a special touch to the bowl of ramen. I was tempted to just drink up all of the broth cause it was just that tasty!

the interior - Japanese action figures

No only was the ramen delicious the decor was great. The mini Japanese action figures that lined the room were fun to look at. I loved the bold, bright, abstract art on the walls. Made for a very chill, cool atmosphere.

the hidden entrance

There is just something so attractive about mysterious,  hidden entrances. There are no signs indicating the Toki Underground is above the bar on the first floor. Only a blue icon with an Asian character in the center to indicate the restaurant’s location. Hidden away on H street, but still word gets out and hungry ramen lovers wait hours for a bowl of amazing ramen. So if you do decide to check out Toki Underground make sure to note this door, because the wonders of ramen awaits right upstairs.

This place is amazing! Though I don’t know if I can justify waiting hours for a seat at Toki Underground when they are packed. Perhaps check out the bars on H street and come back for the reservation? That shall be my plan next time!

Stars5/5

Food for Thought

Recently I have encountered various sites depicting everyday foods in normal life that will make you cringe. A serious food for thought moment. That packet of Ramen that you are about to make… think twice. Perhaps that Starbucks drink you are loading up with shots of espresso check this guy out with his $23.60 Starbucks drink.

What happens in your body when you eat Ramen and Gatorade? 

In this study Fellow Steafani Bardin uses a Smartpill to observe how the body digests differently processed foods. A Smartpill is a capsule with a tiny camera inside used to observe what is going on in the body. In this case to observe what is going on inside the body after different foods are eaten. One subject eats gatorade, ramen, and gummi bears. The other subject eats hibiscus drink, homemade broth with fresh noodles, and gummi bears made from juice. The distinction being one subject eats all processed foods and the other all natural. The results are astonishing. The inability of the body to digest the yummy Top Ramen is scary. Makes you think twice before indulging in the craving for some Ramen.

The Most Expensive Starbucks Drink in the World, Ever – $23.60

Click here to view his blog post

Imagine blowing a week’s worth of coffee funds on one drink. The ultimate 31 ounce cup of coffee. All of the following is inside the massive Trenta cup of Starbucks coffee:

One Java Chip Frappuccino in a Trenta cup, 16 shots of espresso, a shot of soy milk, caramel flavoring, banana puree, strawberry puree, vanilla beans, Matcha powder, protein powder, and a drizzle of caramel and mocha

16 shots of espresso! Oh my! That is a lot of caffeine in one mighty cup. The total caffeine is 1400 mg. A heavy dose of caffeine consists of 400+mg. That is more than 3 times that dose. Drink at your own risk. Drinking that $23.60 cup of Starbucks of coffee would send anyone to the Emergency Department with heart palpitations with your heart racing, irregular possibly life threatening heart rhythms, sky high blood pressure. Imagine a nurse or doctor asking why you are in the ED. “Well I drank the most expensive cup of Starbucks coffee”. Diagnosis – Caffeine Overdose.

Really makes you wonder what kinds of foods you are putting into body. Just something to be aware of.