So Stef and I had the honor of attending a sneak peek Ramen tasting. As members of Houston’s Ramen in Common club, our good friend, Carl Rosa, graciously invited us to partake in this exclusive event. Carl is also the founder of the largest sushi club in the United States (and probably beyond), The Sushi Club of Houston.
Tonight, the event was focused around a chicken ramen at Kubo’s. If you are any part of the Houston sushi scene, Kubo’s needs no introduction. A long time favorite of the club, we gathered this evening at Kubo’s Cafe in China Town. For credibility, I have had ramen from the most “hole-in-the-wall” places of Asakusa, Tokyo to the most trendy places of Houston. My first thought on the ramen this evening was, “wow, this place can definitely school the rest of Houston on how to do noodles right.” They were cooked to perfection where 30 seconds makes a difference. Too long, they are too soft – fall apart and ruin the broth. To short, and they are too hard or chewy. These noodles were at the point of perfection that I had yet to experience in Houston. Think about a noodle soup you are used too – where the noodles easily fall apart and mix with the broth. These noodles kept its own firm integrity and remained a separate, yet critical, part of the ramen.
Kubo’s management and chef team greet us like family and instill the passion of what they are creating. This is why I love Kubo’s and many Japanese restaurants, the passion and honor in their food! You don’t get that in most restaurants. You can count on this meaning that it’s surely going to be good. A lost art in most restaurants today.
So what did I think? Let me set my stage, I am an American who grew up on chicken noodle but in-turn has come to love Japanese cuisine. I found the noodles to be in perfect quantity and prepared at that perfect firmness. I haven’t had better in Houston as far as noodles go. The broth was conservative, yet flavorful, with the perfect amount of saltiness. Keeping in mind, this was open to us (the club) for initial opinions, and I think Kubo’s hit the chicken ramen spot on. With that said, I prefer other ramens more bold pending the primary ingredients, but for chicken? They hit a bulls eye in my book.
People are easily quick to judge, but forget how everything is relative… For a beef, pork, black bean, or any other type of ramen, I would expect the broth to be more bold. For a chicken ramen, thinking of enhancing our age old American cure-all, this chicken ramen takes it up many notches.
It was almost perfect. What was missing? Well, in American cuisine – nothing. In Japanese cuisine, where umami is so important, I think a dried mushroom would add that extra kick to the tastebuds to bring it all together. I let the gracious chef know my thoughts, though I almost felt as if I needed to respect how THEY prepared it. So continues a chapter of the American-Japenese fusion.
I love ramen, and I love Kubo’s. Food is a life pleasure, and that ramen was American soul mixed with Japanese passion and meticulousness. Can you get better than that?
Stay hungry, Houston – and let’s progress from chicken noodle from being the all American cure-all to chicken ramen.