I just can't stay away from ramen.
I enjoy eating it when I'm happy. I enjoy eating it when I'm sad. I enjoy it on a cold, rainy day. I enjoy it on a hot afternoon as the sun sets. While I may devour a bowl of ramen in merely minutes, I do truly try to savor it.
This experience at Sapporo Ramen SORA was no different, yet the ramen was exceptional. The shop is narrow, much like everything else in Amsterdam. There were one or two tables that could fit parties of 4 or more, but the rest appeared to be 2-tops.
When we arrived in the early evening, we took the last open table in this tiny ramen shop. The menu, as always, offered quite the span of ramen, as well as some classic appetizers and cold beverages.
Sapporo Ramen SORA, however, had a slightly different energy than other ramen spots we had recently been to. Maybe it was because we were in Amsterdam, and so the crowd felt more international. Or maybe it was because the restaurant was simply full and buzzing. Or maybe it was everyone's anticipation that electrified the air.
Whatever the cause may have been, it all became insignificant when I took my first bite of ramen.
I ordered the Tonkotsu Shoyu Ramen, which is apparently the signature dish at their sister resturant Ishii.
No bite of a dish is ever as bright as that first innocent, unexpected experience of the food meeting your taste buds. That's how I felt about this bowl of tonkotsu ramen. The first slurp of broth was just as magical as the following ten. I just kept slurping and slurping and slurping, thoroughly enjoying each spoonful as its own experience, but also fearing that the ecstasy would fade.
I can no longer remember the exact flavor profile of my first bite, but I can tell you that it didn't matter to me what else was in my bowl. I've generally felt that a perfect bite of noodle soup has some combination of broth, noodles, and accoutrements.
But what if it isn't? What if the broth is all you want from a noodle soup? Does it still succeed as a good bowl of noodle soup? These are the existential questions this meal presented.
It was salty like a shoyu, and creamy like a tonkotsu, and a perfect balance of flavor, like there was nothing else I could want from it, other than to have more. Is this what umami means? Because I'm only cultured enough to know how to spell it, not to define it.
I implore you to visit Sapporo Ramen SORA so that you can at least tell me whether this is, in fact, the experience of umami perfection.
Sapporo Ramen Sora (no reservations), Ceintuurbaan 49, 1072 ET Amsterdam, the Netherlands, +31 (0)20 664 4396