What a dreary day I was having. Just one of those what-is-the-point-of-getting-out-of-bed days full of mopes and sighs. And then one of the blogs I was reading through talked about homemade ramen. I thought, what a brilliant idea? Is there any better food for lifting one’s spirits than hot Asian soup? I think not.
So I did a quick google search, and praise the gods that be, there was a ramen shop right down the street from me.
Koko Kitchen was an intriguing little shop that I had driven by before, always curious as to what was behind it’s storefront – restaurant? Kitsch shop? Kitchen tools? I was so happy to discover it was a food place. I walked over as quickly as I could in the chilly evening light until I arrived at it’s beckoning doors.
I walk in and to see the traditional setup for quick service Asian places. A hanging menu and a countertop that doesn’t-even-try-to-hide the kitchen. There were lots of tempting dishes – from rice bowls to teriyaki to sushi. But I had come for one thing. SOUP. And I went with the simple chicken ramen. No better way to judge a place than by it’s classic!
I did go a little extra and order it Teishoku style. Meaning they add on a bowl of rice and a side of kimchi. I just couldn’t resist.
After only a few minutes waiting my name was called on the loud speaker. Even though I was sitting right next to the counter. I don’t know if it was protocol or just the personal amusement of the cashier. Either way, I went up and grabbed my tray of promised delight.
The presentation was spot on and glorious. The egg was such a wonderful surprise (and the first thing I ate.) It was even a little bit spicy! The chicken was a mix of dark and white, super moist and flavorful. The chopped scallions weren’t overcooked, and the bean sprouts were fresh and cooked just right. And the seaweed and fish cake were…well, exactly how they always are. Not much variation in those two items.
The broth, though. That was the most delightful part. It was rich and subtle at the same time. ALMOST overbearing, but held back so it doesn’t overwhelm the palate. It also was slightly sweet, which added a fun element.
The BIGGEST disappointment was the noodles. I don’t know how they are ACTUALLY supposed to be. But these just seemed like thicker packaged ramen noodles. They had the same wrinkles and folds. And I am not sure they were cooked all the way. I like my noodles on the softer side – everything else has a nice bite or chew to it, I don’t want my noodles to be work as well. They also weren’t very flavorful or exciting in anyway.
The rice was also less than average. Reminding me of leftover takeout rice but sprinkled with sesame seeds and seaweed. The kimchi was not special but at least was at my expected level of average.
Overall, though. I am going back. I am going to try some other dishes. But I WILL eat another bowl of ramen. Food for the soul.