The universality of noodles. Or, just, eat noodles.
We’ll start with ramen. Crazy that a ramen master is revered, that the recipes are secret (like so many of the most delicious, comforting foods—KFC, bbq, pies, etc), that the dish is so layered, varied, difficult etc—but it’s meant to be slurped loudly by the train station after a long day of work.
Shio ramen w/ yuzu. Spicy tsukemen. Udon. Soba. Beef Pho. Vermicelli w/ egg rolls, pork, and beef balls. Linguine w/ garlic, lemon, prosciutto, parmesan. First, go eat these things. Then wonder at the impressive universality of noodles. If you’re in a big city, go find all the places. If you’re in a smaller town… the Vietnamese/Thai place is probably on point. You can get the Pad Thai, but know that there is a universe of flavors waiting for you beyond that.
If you can, avoid noodles & co.
Here’s the thing though—we often elevate the eating of noodles (especially ramen) to some holy experience. It’s existential, but not sacred. It’s passionate, but not perfect. It takes a true master to make a perfect noodle dish, but it’s meant to be spun and slurped. It’s great that it’s on Chef’s Table, cause Ivan is the shit, but it’s not the same thing as what Massimo is making in Modena—it’s nourishing, it’s confirming, it’s humbling. Go eat.
Kagari / Tokyo / clean, small, hidden in Ginza, be prepared to wait in line
Taiho / Kyoto / dirty, small, hidden in an alley in Kyoto, best at 2AM after drinking
Takeya / Chicago / best ramen I've had outside Tokyo
Hide-chan / New York / in midtown, small, locals, authentic, also close to Totto, which is also good