Americans have burgers and fries to soak up way too much alcohol that you shouldn’t have consumed. Japanese have ramen noodles to do the same job. My memory of ramen in Japan is always at grandparents’ house. We ordered ramens for lunch. Although it is ok to slurp noodles in Japan, and often encouraged, my grandfather told me that a “lady” shouldn’t make such a noise. 30+ years fast forward, my American Jewish husband thinks it’s not classy to slurp.
It seems like there’s a lot of slurping going on in big cities in America last few years. When you can buy 3 for $1 Top Ramen at a local grocery store, these almost $20 ramen seems bit steep, yet all hipsters are lined up outside of Ippudo, Totto or Setagaya (coincidentally where I’m from) in NYC or Daikoku-ya and Santoka in Los Angeles. There is even one in the Plaza Hotel. The Plaza. Ramen, you came long way from drunks craving to being in the most well known luxury Hotel in the world. Whereas all above mentioned ramen shops are Japanese owned, and originally have stores in Japan, the one at the Plaza is run by the celebrity chef, Todd English. The Plaza Food Hall offers Pork Ramen which comes with pork belly, spinach, poached egg and noodle in very rich (read heavy & salty) soup.
I don’t trust western chef making Japanese food, no matter how famous they are. Often times they are an “interpretation” of original, i.e. worse than Chinatown knockoffs. But this was actually quite good. I always want my ramen with an egg. This came with slightly soft yolk poached egg.
That alone made me think this wasn’t a bad imitation at all. My grandfather would have been very curious to see how American would slurp noodles, and probably very surprised to see it in a fancy hotel.