I spent nearly a year before our trip to Japan dabbing into their culture, trying to get a grasp of what was in store. I read Haruki Murakami, who actually today continues to be on my bedside table as I have fallen in love with his style and captivated by his stories. Highly recommended! I also read a couple of mangas. No doubt I went into countless blogs. I was on Youtube watching documentaries and I also watched David Chang during season one of The Mind of a Chef where he talks about ramen amongst other things.
All this info was in my head when we arrived to Japan. One of the dishes that I wanted to try was ramen but was encountering a problem and it was the weather. It was way too warm in August to even think of sitting down to a warm bowl of soup so we left in on the back burner.
There are times where luck goes your way and it happened on our way back from a small village town of Tanigawa where we had stayed at a ryokan onsen. On our way back to Tokyo a typhoon was arriving. The closer we got, the more it rained. We kept checking on internet to read that Narita airport had been closed, so we figured it would probably be a good idea to play it low key during the remainder of the day. When we arrived to Tokyo station it was pouring outside and it was cool. Yes, the weather had changed and the temperature had dropped and it was cool! All of a sudden, ramen came to my mind. Today was the day for ramen! We were in Tokyo Station where you find Ramen Street, this is a street inside the subway station packed with ramen restaurants. It was past two so we had built up an appetite.
Once we found Ramen Street, we were trying to find a place which would serve ramen as many of the restaurants were already closing. We found one that was open but had no queue but right next to it we found another one which did have a queue and we remembered one of the most important things we had learnt: ALWAYS GO TO THE PLACE WITH THE QUEUE. So there we went, in the most Japanese manner of waiting in line. Since it really wasn’t lunch time in Japan we didn’t have to wait long before we got to the vending machine. Seriously, this is my favorite vending machine of all times! Here you choose which ramen you want and you get a ticket. Then, when there is seating, you either sit at a table or at the counter where you get to see them at work. We got to sit at the counter.
When I tried the first spoonful of the broth I was hocked to its rich taste. I was fascinated by how much I enjoyed the flavor and kept craving more. True umami!
We left not knowing that this was the restaurant where David Chang had gone. When we got back to the hotel my husband started investigating and he was the one who told me that we, unintentionally followed his footsteps. Suddenly I remembered being back home, and the excitement I felt watching David Chang having ramen and the feeling of wanting to go to Japan to try it. I couldn’t help but smile to know that fate had taken me where I wanted to go.