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A Tsunami of Ramen

A bowl of ramen at Teppay

The pork in the Tonkotsu ramen at Teppay on Westheimer is as tender as the roast pork Grandma served for Sunday dinner.The pork bone broth is milky in color and intensely flavored, which is typical of this style of ramen. (No, we are not talking about the little packages of instant noodles you ate in your dorm room in college–this is the real deal.) There are over 20 regional varieties of ramen in Japan, and food-loving Texans are studying up on all of them in preparation for the tsunami of noodle soup that is about to flood over us. How else will you avoid confusing traditional Tonkotsu pork BONE ramen with the Americanized Tonkatsu pork CHOP ramen.

Here’s what wikipedia has to say about tonkotsu ramen

Tonkotsu (豚骨, “pork bone”; not to be confused with tonkatsu) ramen usually has a cloudy white colored broth. It is similar to the Chinese baitang (白湯) and has a thick broth made from boiling pork bones, fat, and collagen over high heat for many hours, which suffuses the broth with a hearty pork flavor and a creamy consistency that rivals milk, melted butter or gravy (depending on the shop). Most shops, but not all, blend this pork broth with a small amount of chicken and vegetable stock and/or soy sauce. The noodles are thin and straight, and it is often served with beni shoga (pickled ginger). In recent years the latest trend in tonkotsu toppings is māyu (sesame oil), a blackish, aromatic oil made from either charred crushed garlic or Sesame seeds. It is a specialty of Kyushu, particularly Hakata-ku, Fukuoka (hence sometimes called “Hakata ramen”).

The ubiquity of Vietnamese noodles shops serving pho and mi in Texas and the relatively small size of the Japanese community here has isolated us from the ramen binge that the rest of the country has been experiencing since David Chang’s Momofuku Noodle Bar took off in New York nine years ago.

But now our long ramen drought is about to end. I have read your fortune, and I see a bowl of ramen in your immediate future. It won’t be long before Texans join fellow American ramen nerds who are flying to Japan and learning the language in order to enjoy the soup properly. (Please share your ramen adventures.)

If you don’t have the time or funds to visit Japan, then you must, at the very least, rent the ramen cult movie Tampopo as soon as possible and learn all about the ramen cowboys, Goro and Gun.

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