Tag Archives: ramen

The Honey Paw (Portland, ME)

Despite Maine being only one state away, it’s just far enough of a drive that we don’t often seem to get over that way to explore. However, recent efforts in our household at car shopping had us doing several visits to dealerships in Portland, and after some test driving and a visit to nearby Mast Landing Brewery in Westbrook, we had some time to go find a light dinner in Portland before heading back to NH. We originally set out to visit Eventide Oyster Company, but upon finding the waiting list to be rather long (they were estimating an hour), we instead inquired next door at the sister restaurant, The Honey Paw, and found a much shorter wait of 20 minutes. Settling in across the street at Tomaso’s Canteen (who deserves a writeup of their own at some point), for a beer while we waited. A mere 10 minutes later, we got a page that our table was ready.

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Beau (Montpelier, VT)

Montpelier is another one of those towns around here that seems to punch above their weight when it comes to the culinary front. Sporting a good Asian fusion place (Kismet), a Southern cooking place (Downhome), several good Italian places, a taco shop (one of the Mad Taco outposts), two Pho joints, a whole range of other dining options, and even a culinary school, I’m never far from some good eats in Montpelier. But there are always new things showing up, and a bit over a year ago we were taking the back way to Hunger Mountain Co-op via Barre Street when we happened across Beau. Beau had an interesting business model: it was basically a combination of a butcher shop with house-cut meat and house-made charcuterie and a cocktail bar, with custom-crafted cocktail served out of a rolling bar out front. They also do a light menu of charcuterie and soups (and, in nicer weather, set up an outdoor patio and have a food truck or portable pizza oven come by). It was pretty much custom-adapted to my particular tastes… all in a 300 square foot store. Well, a few changes have occurred since they opened. Alas, the cocktail program has ended (realistically, that was a lot to cram into such a small space), but they’ve expanded the meat area and their menu as well, so overall, it’s probably been a bit of an improvement, since I can still get all the same great meats and a better set of dining options (and if I want a cocktail, head to one of several other nice spots around the area).

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Snappy Kitchen (Somerville, MA)

Of all the food trends that have caught on in the last few years, one of the ones I’ve rather enjoyed is the marked increase in Japanese-style Ramen joints, serving up rich bowls of broth with noodles, meats, and various other toppings (note that good Ramen is every bit as much about the broth as the noodles). Indeed, between Porter Square in Cambridge (home of Hokkaido and Yume Wo Katare, both of which sport excellent ramen and long lines) and Davis Square in Somerville, there are a good half dozen ramen shops that cater to slight variations on the Ramen theme. But since our visit was primarily focused on Davis Square (heading to an excellent mixology class at the nearby Boston Shaker) we decided that this would be a great time to check out Snappy Ramen, one of the newer Ramen shops.

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Hakataya (Edinburgh, Scotland)

After leaving the Faroes, our next stop was Edinburgh. Compared to our usual UK trips that generally require dealing with either Heathrow or Gatwick, in comparison to those airports, the relatively smaller and much smoother-operating Edinburgh airport is almost a breeze of customs and immigration, so we soon found ourselves riding the tram into downtown to meet up with my brother at The New Club. After getting settled in and enjoying the views of Edinburgh Castle, it was time to head out and explore the New City for a dinner spot. My brother had spied a Japanese place near the Club, and that seemed like a particularly nice change up from Faroese cuisine. So we soon found ourselves in a quiet alley off of Rose Street (home of an implausibly large number of pubs, even by UK standards).

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Ramen Parlor (San Mateo, CA)

After finishing up dinner at Kokko, all of the gnoshing on yakitori left us still a little hungry, and we decided that some ramen was in order. Luckily, San Mateo and the adjacent communities have no shortage of ramen joints; over a dozen of them in San Mateo alone. In fact, three of them are their own little empire, owned by Kazunori Kobayashi, a Japanese Chef who first started Santa Ramen, serving classic ramen. Then he opened Ramen Dojo, focusing on spicy, stamina-building ramen. And then he open Ramen Parlor as an option to serve up some alternative ramen with different ingredients, particularly seafood. Overall, I was probably most interested in Ramen Dojo, but that wasn’t in the cards: Ramen Dojo wasn’t open that night. So we wandered over to Ramen Parlor to check it out.

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Anju Noodle Bar (Kittery, ME)

One of the simpler foods that I really enjoy is a good ramen noodle shop (indeed, I’ve reviewed rather a lot of them). It’s been one of the upcoming trendy foods, with ramen shops opening up all over the place, some more Japanese-inspired, some more Korean-inspired. But they are almost always tasty. But it’s also one of those trends that hasn’t really made inroads into New Hampshire yet. But it’s almost here, indeed, a recent trip to Portsmouth had us crossing over to Kittery in search of dinner, and we ended up finding Anju Noodle Bar just over the river from Portsmouth, in scenic downtown Kittery (right across from one of the entrances to the shipyard).

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Mui (New York, NY)

On our last trip to New York City, we stayed in the most wonderful NoMad Hotel just north of Madison Square Park, and on the edge of Koreatown. We planned to have an outing to Koreatown to try out one of the better Korean Fried Chicken places, but had a major wrench thrown into our plans when most of the neighborhood found itself without power. However, one place I called, Mui, said that aside from deep-fried items they could still prepare food, so we headed off to check them out.

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Palace Saimin (Honolulu, HI)

While I’ve talked about many of the dishes that demonstrate the ethnic fusion of Hawaii, few of them embody the multicultural fusion of Hawaiian cuisine as much as “saimin”. Saimin is basically a noodle dish that is a mild fusion of elements taken from each the major cultures of Hawaii’s plantation era: Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Korean, Hawaiian, and Portuguese. The resulting dish is a noodle soup that bears a lot of resemblance to Chinese “mein” and Japanese “ramen”, usually with some other ethnicities adding ingredients, such as Spam, gyoza, udon, or wontons. In any case, much of the Kahili neighborhood had Saimin joints popping up during the middle of the 20th century, usually run by recent Okinawan families. And pretty much everyone I know that grew up in Hawaii has told me stories about how much saimin they ate as a kid, either as soup, or as the related “fried min” (pan-fried noodles with the same sorts of toppings). Oahu has dozen of Saimin places, and one of the older, more classic, and, quite frankly, no-frills places is Palace Saimin.

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Rai Rai Ramen (Kailua, HI)

One of the great things about the very multicultural nature of Hawaii’s population is that it has quite the assortment of Asian restaurants to choose from, with a good variety of Chinese (including Americanized and Hawaiianized versions), Korean, Vietnamese, and Japanese restaurants. The state has a rather long history of loving noodle shops in particular; historically a lot of these were saimin shops, serving up a product that’s basically the fusion of Japanese, Chinese, and Filipino noodle traditions. But more recently, there’s been quite an upwelling of ramen noodle joints of both Japanese and Korean influence. Indeed, as we were wandering around Kailua on the windward side of the island (our original choice for dinner turned out to be closed on Sundays), we found a nice, modest ramen shop just off of Highway 61 in Kailua: Rai Rai Ramen.

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Sora Japanese Cuisine (Detroit International Airport)

A continuing mission of mine here at Offbeat Eats is trying to help fellow travelers find good places to eat. As I’ve commented many times before, airport food is generally a dismal experience, and with a few rare exceptions (notable airports I’ve found that have multiple good options for food include Heathrow and San Francisco, for example), airport dining is best avoided, and if you find yourself needing a meal, you often pay through the nose for it. One particularly pleasant exception to this, however, lies in Detroit’s International Airport. Detroit is often the butt of jokes, and it often has earned that status, but for a city of its status, Detroit actually has a rather nice airport, particularly in their main McNamara terminal (home of the particularly cool colorful tunnel between concourses, which you can see here). There are a lot of restaurants here, of varying quality, but one thing stands out: primarily due to the large number of Japanese passengers passing through the airport, it sports multiple Japanese restaurants. One of these, Sora Japanese Cuisine and Sushi Bar, is one of my rare examples of “Good airport food”.

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