nudelsuppe

Sapporo Ramen SORA (Amsterdam, Netherlands): A Spiritual Ramen Experience

THE STORY

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.

Sapporo Ramen Sora Amsterdam Tonkotsu Shoyu Ramen Noodle Soup Netherlands

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.

The Asian Craving Sapporo Ramen Sora Amsterdam Netherlands Tonkotsu Shoyu Ramen with Cha Siu and Fried Garlic

THE REVIEW

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

An Easy Won Ton Soup Recipe That Will Fill Your Belly

THE STORY

Let's be honest with each other - no one really reads the story that goes with recipe blog posts. That being said, I do feel obligated to say something about why I made this.

After engorging myself with dim sum a couple weeks ago, I was still craving a taste of home. And when I say a taste of home, I mean a taste of something that makes me feel like me.

Hainan Chicken and Rice Gai lan Chinese Broccoli recipe Cantonese food

My parents never made won ton soup at home - we almost always went out for Chinese food, rather than making it at home. To be fair, my mom didn't make Chinese food, and my dad didn't start making dinner on a regular basis until I was in middle school.

But even then, we had so many delicious Chinese restaurants in town, so why cook at home? And when I say Chinese restaurants, I'm not talking about Panda Express or a buffet that also serves french fries or a greasy spot that is almost strictly for to-go orders.

Easy Homemade Won Ton Soup simple recipe dumplings chicken soup Asian comfort food

I'm talking about restaurants with chandeliers and lazy Susans. I'm talking about restaurants that offer you one menu in English (with no pictures) and one in Chinese, assuming that non-Chinese speakers won't want certain dishes. I'm talking about restaurants that only serve dim sum on the weekends, don't accept reservations during that time, and serve you a variety of dishes from rolling carts directly to your table.

Maybe I'm just riding the hype of the recent release of Crazy Rich Asians (which I haven't seen yet), but I wanted a simple dish that helped me reset all the fervent chaos inside my head. So I made won tons and cooked them in the chicken broth left over from making Hainan chicken.

Easy Homemade Won Ton Soup recipe pork dumpling filling Chinese cooking

THE RECIPE

for the won tons:
500g ground pork
250g shrimp, cooked and minced
4-5 green onions
2/3 cup whole water chestnuts, minced*
1 tbsp shaoxing wine*
1 tbsp soy sauce*
1/2 tsp ground white pepper*
1 pack frozen won ton wrappers (thaw in fridge)

for the broth:
1 whole chicken (if you buy frozen, be sure to thaw it completely)
3-4 green onions
2-3 2-inch pieces of ginger, sliced in thirds*

parchment or foil
ziploc bag or container

*I didn't really measure these ingredients. These are my approximations.

1. Line at least one (if not two) baking sheet with parchment or foil that will fit in your freezer.

2. Combine all the won ton ingredients in a large bowl. Scoop a healthy teaspoon of filling onto center of a won ton square, then fold however you see fit (Woks of Life has some great suggestions).

3. When baking sheet is full, place it in freezer and start lining the other baking sheet with more won tons. If you don't have another baking sheet, leave the won tons until they won't stick to each other when you put them in the ziploc bag or container to store in the freezer.

4. Once you finish making the won tons, put the ginger and green onions into a large pot of water and bring to a boil. (I add enough water that looks like it'll cover the whole chicken.) When boiling, gently add the chicken butt-side down, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Then turn the burner off and let sit for another 15 minutes.

5. Remove chicken to cutting board and tent with foil. Bring the pot of water with green onions and ginger up to a gentle boil for another 2 hours. I usually keep the lid cracked on top.

At this point, you can scoop some broth out to cook rice, or make a dipping sauce with a squeeze of lime juice, a teaspoon of sugar, and a healthy shake of fish sauce.

6. Scoop broth into a smaller pot for cooking the won tons. Bring broth to a boil, then add as many frozen won tons as you like. Cook for 5 minutes. Serve as you like.

RO (Porto, Portugal): Reserve a Meal for This Ramen

THE STORY

I had heard nothing but great things about Portugal. It was never on my list of places to visit, but after seeing my friend's gluttonous Instagram feed of her trip, I booked a trip for American Thanksgiving weekend.

And boy did we celebrate.

Knowing nothing about Portuguese cuisine (except for the legendary Francesinha), I booked a food tour with Taste Porto (you can read more about them in my newsletter!). I can't recommend them enough. It was a glorious 3 1/2 hours of learning, eating, and occasional walking. We indulged in savory pastries, sweet pastries, sardines, sandwiches made with the creamiest bread, coffee, wine, cheese, and more pastries.

Taste Porto Food Tours Portugal Sardines Olive Oil Market

Before embarking on this journey, however, we happened to walk past Ramen e Outros (RO). We marked it on our Google map to return for dinner. (There was little fear that we would be too full hours after the tour.)

This Porto ramen joint has no more than ten tables and a handful of bar stools. The design is modern and minimal - you wouldn't necessarily expect it to be a ramen spot at first glance. You will, however, notice that it's popular because it's difficult to get a table. And much like everything else in Porto, the food was exquisite.

Ramen e Outros RO Porto Portugal Tantan ramen noodle soup

THE REVIEW

The Ramen Marauder had the tonkotsu and I had the tantan, which was the first time I'd ever had the style. It was flavorful and had more of a bite than I expected (but by no means punishing). There were also more noodles than I expected, which is always a plus. Even though it was noted on the menu, I wasn't expecting the large piece of broccolini (bimi) in my noodle soup, but I always love a refreshing green crunch in my ramen.

Overall, there are a lot of things and places to eat in Porto, but as I mentioned in my Florence review, I believe that part of experiencing a city includes eating "non-native" cuisines. You should be sure to save one of your meals for RO.

Ramen e Outros RO Restaurant Porto Portugal tonkotsu ramen noodle soup

Note: if this were a video game, those mushrooms would be a mission item.


Ramen e Outros (RO), Rua Ramalho Ortigão, 61. 4000-407 Porto, Portugal, 967 307 887/222 008 297