I’d like to take a moment to send my sincerest thoughts and prayers to the people of Boston, MA. I know a great deal of people who were in attendance at the Boston Marathon. I hope those that were affected by this tragedy find comfort and good health; please accept my sincerest condolences to anyone who may have lost a loved one.
Something I have really come to appreciate these days is soup. Not just any soup but Ramen. I used to make quite a bit of soups in my pre-BR days and when cooking for two, on a budget, you have to compromise a bit. Stews are okay as long as they are meaty and soups are good as long as they are hearty. While I believe all soups are hearty and filling, I have sacrificed a good number of soups that I would normally make if BR was not having dinner with me.
But before I get attacked for letting him dominate my menu plan- I should note that I do this voluntarily. I prefer to save those soup cravings for the masters of the craft. The Ramen vendors.
What I love most about Ramen are the complex broths. Deep aromatic flavors take hours to perfect make for the most delicious slurp-fest. And when given the opportunity, I will choose Ramen when its available.
On one particular Friday, when I was playing hookie from work, my lovely friend Julia and I decided to meet for Lunch. My only request was that it be Ramen. Julia, never disappointing, chose a Ramen restaurant in Prospect Heights called Chuko. Chuko, is a minimally chic, relatively new restaurant that slings out bowls of ramen to the masses. This often crowded eatery was nearly empty when we met up for lunch- guessing that was because it was a Friday.
The first order of business was bao. I love love love bao. Or Steamed buns. These doughy steamed buns are filled with all kinds of deliciousness. On that particular day, we opted for 2 bao. One crispy shrimp bao with spicy mayo and cole slaw followed by a braised short rib bao topped with pickled daikon and carrots. We split the buns and while they were incredible (I liked the short rib best) we were wasting precious room in our bellies for giant bowls of ramen.
No sooner than I made this realization did huge bowls of piping hot ramen appear before us. Julia went the more classic route with a spicy pork ramen. A taste of the rich and deliciously mouth numbing spice revealed she had the better choice. But I opted for the special of the day with was a roasted marrow bone broth with pork belly. The massive slabs of melt in your mouth pork belly were the perfect addition to this savory broth. We slurped away at our ramen and had an amazing time catching up.
Lo and behold, I sat with half a bowl of delicious broth and no more room in my already full belly to press on. You know the kind of full that allows you to eat more despite being satisfied? Well, I was way passed it. I was entering the stage of satiation where if I indulged in a single sip more, I would be sick- A true testament to the quality of this amazing ramen.
Give the close (ish) proximity to my apartment, I foresee another visit to Chuko for a ladies lunch the next time I play hookie.
…or the next time in NYC when the weather is deceptively cool for Spring (AKA any day now)