I took a trip to Japan last month, and unsurprising to anyone who has ever traveled to Japan, the ramen blew me away. Due to jet lag and 95-degree temperatures, my appetite was disappointingly absent for the first two or three days. But the first real meal I had ended up being the best of the 10-day trip. My best friend and I stumbled into a ramen shop in Kyoto, very close to Nishiki Market — a fascinating walk through hundreds of food vendors where you can see, smell, and buy some food items that are very recognizable (and plenty that are not).
My travel companion and I were hot and sweaty, but we were determined not to let that deter us from some real ramen. It didn't matter that our menu was completely in Japanese and our waitresses spoke very little English. As we did in most restaurants, we pointed to a picture of a dish that resembled something appetizing. There was a bit of confusion about a follow-up question, but we eventually figured out that we were to choose how we wanted our noodles cooked (al dente to well-done). We chose middle of the road and were not disappointed.
Following the lead of the diners around us, we literally and figuratively inhaled the garlicky broth and thin, slightly chewy noodles. The broth tasted like it had been stewing for days, and the bowl was topped off with some tender and fatty slices of pork. (That was impossible to avoid — who knew the Japanese ate so much pork and mayonnaise?) It was a huge bowl of noodles and broth, but I was so happy to have my appetite back and to have such a delicious meal, I barely noticed.
While I know that finding an authentic bowl of ramen is practically impossible to find anywhere near Nashville, does anyone know where I can find a decent bowl of ramen? I'll admit that I don’t really frequent any Japanese restaurants besides sushi places, so I’m kind of in the dark about other options. Does anyone have the hookup? Maybe a friend with an old Japanese family member who likes to cook for really hungry American girls? Or has anyone perfected homemade ramen?
I’ll take anything close.