One of my favourite discoveries (well…I can’t really call it a discovery, more of an “introduction”) from my time in Chicago is Ramen. The spicy, salty broth proved itself to be a perfect cure for a less than perfect hangover, or a fun lunch to get out of the office. In part it’s the city, in part the company and in part the quality of the Ramen (I sense I may have been spoilt by the restaurant selection in the Second City!) but I am a Ramen convert. On more than one occasion I have mentioned Ramen to my friends back in the ‘Shire, to which the response is always “oh yeah- like Wagamama’s?”. Well, yes. But better.
One of the problems with moving back across the Atlantic, is that your friends Stateside are just about to start their fun evenings as you’re waking up to start a day at work. A 11.30pm/5.30am text from a friend saying he was at High Five Ramen in Chicago, made me jealous (and maybe a little bit sad!). This place is great- firstly, you have to put your name on a sign up sheet to get in. Then you wait. And you can be waiting a while. But it’s worth it. Sitting at the bar in this place I was hypnotised by the team creating the Ramen; each creation unique, prepared bowl-by-bowl. In fact, I was a pretty poor conversationalist that night. We sat in silence, mesmerised by the way that kitchen operated.
I only had “half spice” and it was HOT (well, at least it was to me!) Combined with some of the best pork belly I have ever eaten (response text at 5.30am: “That pork belly is amazing”) this bowl of Ramen blasted away a hefty hangover gained from a great evening on the roof terrace at the Lincoln Hotel.
So, I couldn’t get the thought of Ramen out of my head after that text, and decided to attempt to make it myself. A quick Google search and I stumbled upon this recipe from Gourmet Traveller, Australia. The beautiful shot of how the Ramen looks is below. I had to have it.
Now, where I live in Gloucestershire is rather remote. So, I was pretty shocked when my tiny, local Sainsbury’s had the ingredients. I suspect that others didn’t expect them to have them either, because they were all on clearance. But hey- that was good for me! I got the ingredients I needed, including some Wiltshire reared pork belly, to create my local version of Ramen.
And here it is- simple, salty and delicious. It paled in comparison to the delicious Ramen of High Five Ramen and Ramen-San in Chicago, but it will keep me going until I next jump on that 12.35pm BA flight to arrive in time to queue for one of those 16 seats at High Five Ramen…