I was not one of those dorm dwelling kids that cooked ramen on an illegal hotplate. I was one of those dorm dwelling kids that cooked 10 Minute Rice on an illegal hotplate. This may be one of the reasons I am still a total ramen nut.
Remember when I went to Japan and ate all the ramen and gyoza I could sniff out? Now, I cannot even pretend to come close to conjuring the magic I had while shoveling those amazing bowls in my face, but I can certainly improve upon that dorm room prison style ramen.
Cook up your noodles and the spice pack in a pot (stovetop, hotplate, whatevs). While that is cooking, throw a small handful of frozen peas in your bowl and chop up some random fridge bits to toss in the bowl as well. Today, I added some fake crab for my bowl, and some leftover chicken for my partner’s. Peel a boiled egg (a 6 minute egg is purrrfect) and slice. Grab your never ending green onions and slice those babies on a sexy bias (it helps if you pretend Gordon Ramsey is yelling at you).
When your noodles are cooked, pour the broth and the noods into your bowl and give them a light stir. Sprinkle your green onions and drop a shrimp or two on top (I always have frozen shrimp in the freezer. Imma seafood ho.).
But wait! What takes this beyond random ramen with kitchen sink leftovers? A splash of soy sauce, a dash of mirin, and a generous sploosh of sriracha. That’s it. It’s so easy. It’s so delicious. Are you ready to up your ramen game??
It’s true. We are total foodie travelers and often plan parts of our trips around meals (because why not?!) and the food in Okinawa definitely did not disappoint. Not a single bad meal (or even convenience store snack) was had during our 9-10 day stay.
The sushi was of course amazeballs and super fresh. I stepped out of my comfort zone to try a quail egg and yam puree roll, which was pretty tasty, though I’m not sure I would go for it again (a texture thing…). We checked out a sushi-go-round where when you ordered off the menu a little race-car ran down the belt holding your order. Conclusion: so cool. We also did a pretty good job destroying a ton of plates.
The ramen was also something straight out of the self help section. And by that I mean it was pretty life affirming and life changing. None of this ‘just add hot water’ stuff…this is the real deal. We sampled more than a few bowls at different restaurants and I’m still hard pressed to choose my favorite. The broth is always thick and full of over the top meaty flavor (& you can add miso! Heavenly!!) and additions like bean sprouts, hard boiled eggs and even more green onions are totally encouraged. I kinda want some more. Right now.
We checked out a few local markets where you could get everything from the oink of the pig, to seaweed, to still moving shellfish. One of these markets on Kokusai Street in Naha was straight out of an Anthony Bourdain episode (…which is from real life, I know. I just want to BE him.) where you could take your freshly purchased, still moving food upstairs to one of the many little family run restaurants and have your fresh catch immediately turned into dinner or a snack.
I also ventured to try this funky ice cream in a balloon (someone needed to do it). Banana was the flavor of the day and despite some obviously dirty references (which totally made us laugh) it was pretty yummy. I felt a bit like a jerk walking through the market with this balloon thing hanging out of my mouth, but you only live once, right? (hashtag yolo!)
Japanese curry was also a winner despite my pretty severe dislike of anything curry related (I don’t like coconut and curry powder is icky). It’s a totally different taste and not what I expected at all. And don’t get me started on the gyoza! Even the worst of the batches we inhaled were better than what we can get around here. So yeah. Now I’m super hungry……pass the ramen please! And some gyoza. Don’t forget the gyoza…!