PROVO, Utah, August 27, 2013 — One way to describe Tokyo, Japan is vertical. Unless you live in New York City or Hong Kong, the majority of your experiences occur on a horizontal plane, moving from point A to point B.
In Tokyo, virtually the whole city goes up, and so do you, horizontal travel is at a minimum when compared with the constant changes in altitude.
When you do find your way down to the street level, the chorus of a million city sounds clashes brilliantly with the ever changing pattern of a billion different lights.
It is easy to become swept up in the crowd of bodies hurrying across the crosswalk at a busy intersection, and even easier to become lost when for the first time in your life since you were a toddler, you can neither read, nor understand the language being spoken.
Good food is a universal language of sorts, and when in Tokyo, though you may struggle to communicate, nothing stands in the way of eating well. Almost every restaurant will have artisanal plastic models of what is being served displayed at the entrance.
At the very least, there will be photographs of all the food tacked up on the outside by the front doors. All you need to do is point and nod.
Not far from Tokyo Tower, there is a ramen house, in the Denki Building, called Yuraku-cho that serves traditional Tokyo style ramen. In Japan, eating establishments are crammed where ever they will fit, and this restaurant, though larger than many, is pushing it to seat twenty people at once.
Each table is tiny with not enough room for four, but four sit anyway, with elbows tucked in to keep from bashing into those seated at the table behind them. Businessmen wait patiently in long lines for a seat, with no concern for the hot ramen broth that will later be spattered on their suits. When ramen is this good, flying broth is of no concern.
The ramen is served in a gigantic steaming bowl with two slices of pork, a bit of nori, a hard-boiled egg, and some sliced green onions. The most polite way to eat it is to grab a hunk of noodles in your chopsticks and half-shovel, half-slurp them up.
Slurping shows your appreciation of the food. It is also acceptable to drink the remaining broth directly from the bowl.
It would be impossible to recreate the exact bowl of ramen served by Yuraku-cho, that would require piles of fresh-made steaming hot noodles, swimming in authentic bonito based broth, some accoutrements, and the atmosphere only found in the lunch rush of downtown Tokyo.
An easy and close approximation can be made in your kitchen with only a few ingredients. Katsuo Fumi Furikake can be found at an Asian grocery store near you.
Tokyo –style Ramen for One
2 thin sliced boneless pork chops
1 package of ramen, (discard included seasoning packet)
1 sliced green onion, white and green parts
1 soft or hardboiled egg, peeled
2.5 cups water
3 tablespoons Katsuo Fumi Furikake
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Lightly salt the pork chops. In a small amount of oil, over medium-high heat, brown the pork chops approximately 3 minutes on each side or until no longer pink and juices run clear. Cover with foil and keep warm.
Bring water to a boil. Add noodles and cook for 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in furikake and soy sauce. Let it sit for 1-2 minutes to dissolve the furikake.
Pour soup into a ramen bowl, add pork chops, hardboiled egg, and sprinkle with green onions.
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