"Man, ramen's good."
"Damn, I like ramen."
"Why don't I eat ramen more often?"
"Mmm. ...Crap I can't breathe, I better swallow."
Aaaaand that's what it sounds like in my head. I estimate that my brain is 95% Jell-O-like goo made of underachieving neurons where profundity is unable to thrive. (But that last 5%? Oh man, it's like a party with beach balls and a motherfuggin' cotton candy machine!!!)
So, back to the internal dialogue. While eating my bowl of black sesame miso ramen ($10.50) at Ramen Setagaya last Thursday, I had this atypical revelation of, "Man, [insert type of dish I'm eating] is really tasty. Yeah!" Usually, I eat contently, not blown away nor disappointed by what I'm eating (and more than usually, I insufficiently chew too much food far too quickly, the result being odoriferous burps for the rest of the day that I will announce to whomever is unfortunately within my zone of vocal reach). But this time I was like, "This ramen is so hitting some sort of spot that only springy noodles in an umami-laden broth can hit."
I didn't taste much of the black sesame goo that was plopped on the central mound of bean sprouts; I mostly tasted the miso and a surprising hit of throat tingling spiciness from the red chili flakes. It probably would have tingled/burned less if I hadn't sucked the soup straight down my throat. I was shooting back the ramen even more quickly and uncouth than usual because, due to half of my bottom lip being swollen and sore from an infected cold sore that I spent the whole week recovering from (more on that later), I didn't have full mobility of my mouth. Unless I wanted to dribble food all over the place or have it dangle from my mouth like a baby learning how to feed itself, I had to shovel it down quickly. At least I was surrounded by friends who were eating normally.
The ramen wasn't the best I've had, but I'd eat it again. I liked the generous helping of corn (sweet, sweet corn nublets bursting with juicy sunshine, I love you) and the not-too-soft, slightly chewy noodles. The pork had a nice layer of buttery fat around the edges, and although the meat didn't have the same buttery-ness going for it, it was pleasingly tender. I'd like the broth more if it had more black sesame and less miso.
...I guess what I really want is noodles with corn, pork, and black sesame. Hm. Hm. [strokes chin]
if you're wondering what is the best ramen I've had, so far that award goes to the usually crowded and expensive (for ramen) Ippudo, in particular their "Special Ramen," kasane-aji, ($14) that I ate in December. The menu's description: "Ramen noodle in layered "tori-paitan" creamy chicken and tonkotsu [pork bone] soup topped with pork chashu, bean sprouts, onion, 1/2 seasoned boiled egg, kikurage [slivered wood ear mushrooms], scallions, and yuzu kosho." My description: IT'S FULL OF FATTY CHICKEN GOODNESS; there is no part of this bowl that isn't awesome. The thick tonkotsu and chicken broth exploded with chicken essence squeezed from pure chicken souls. Delicious souls.
But I'm more likely to return to Ramen Setagaya than Ippudo because I don't want to wait an hour to get seated—I want my ramen quickly. And even though Ippudo is only a little more expensive, I like saving a wee bit of money as well.
141 1st Ave, New York NY 10003 (b/n St. Mark's and 9th; map)
(There's also one on St. Mark's Place, but my friend Nancy said the 1st Ave location was better. I haven't compared them so I'm just taking her word for it.)
This Part Ain't Food-Related
Back to the cold sore, because you're dying to read about orofacial herpes on my blog. It started to form about a week ago, last Sunday, but never having had a cold sore before in my 24 years of life, I didn't catch it early enough to prevent it from entering "MAKE ROBYN GO CRAZY" territory. So for those of you who've never had them before, I'll warn you so you can actually catch it before it happens. Maybe. This is just my experience.
Mine looked like a zit. So I did what I do with other zits: pop that suckah. (I don't recommend you do this.) But it wasn't a zit, so the popping attempt didn't do anything helpful—it just the blister angrier. Lesson learned: if something near your lip looks like a zit but doesn't act like one, that might be a cold sore, in which case NO TOUCHING, JUST STOPPIT. Maybe put some Abreva on it. (Speaking of Abreva, the package listed a bunch of triggers for getting cold sores that included lack of sleep, stress, extreme hot/cold weather, and menstruation. Damn. Cold sores should be popping up all over my mouth like crazy.) My bro recommended the Abreva, while my mom told me to take lysine tablets.
But these things didn't work because I'm pretty sure by Day 2 (Monday) I had gotten a staph infection (I'm surprised I'm not more disease-ridden considering my lack of healthy habits, to be honest). I didn't find that out until three days afterward, though, when I went to the doctor. In those three days, my lip continued to swell so that it felt like a small plum was growing out of my face. I had continuous headaches and toothaches, only on the left side of my head where the cold sore was. I thought, "Um, maybe this is normalOH MY GOD MY HEAD MY TEETH WTF EERruuhgfufughdrool," as I grabbed my head and glared angrily at my bottle of ibuprofen, its label full of broken promises. The pain only went away when I drained the blister (if you didn't just shudder, you should have), which took forever, which contributed to my 5 a.m. bed time last Thursday morning, which contributed to my overall zombie-like state for the rest of the day.
On Thursday morning I popped into the walk-in clinic near my office (the Beth Israel clinic on 23th Street and 7th Avenue; Dr. Uncyk is da man), got some antibiotics, and poof, I'm almost as good as new.
Aaaand that's my story. I'm pretty bad with taking care of my health issues, of which I have surprisingly few, but I'm learning.