Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Comfort food: 3 noodle soups

Panya niu rou mian / Goma Tei ramen / Asahi Grill
Noodle soup is my comfort food. I think it must stem from special Saturday lunches when I was growing dad would make Sapporo Ichiban saimin instead of tuna sandwiches for all of us. It was a treat, since my mom thought saimin had too much fat (the fried noodles). He would throw in fishcake, green onions, whatever sort of leftover meat or green veggies were in the fridge.

Now my version that I make at home when I’m craving some comfort adds in spam, egg (dropped in raw, like egg drop soup), and chopped up baby bok choy. Plus lots and lots of sambal oelek (hot sauce with the green cap). Yum.

We are spoiled for choice when we go out to each in Hawaii for good noodle soups: Japanese ramen, Vietnamese pho, local Oxtail Soup, and the list goes on. My usual go to is pho - I like the lightness of the rice noodles and the cleanness of the broth. But I can also often be convinced to go for a heavier bun rieu at Golden River or the Bun Bo Hue at Bac Nam.

Some recent new noodles soups that I’ve tried are:

A) Taiwanese beef noodle soup at Panya (niu rou mian)
There aren’t a lot of lunch choices near my office in Kakaako, but luckily there is a Panya. I usually get the chopped chef salad and a bubble tea, but the niu rou mian there is exceptional. Big hunks of beef with tendon attached, and a spicy rich broth.

B) Dan dan ramen at Goma Tei
If you read the reviews on yelp, the Tan Tan ramen is the thing to try here. I haven’t tried the shoyu ramen, but I’m sure it’s great as well. I got the chicken version - which is served with plenty of slices of poached chicken breast on top of the massive mound of noodles and the thick, spicy broth.

Added bonus: you can add on a side of curry rice.

C) Oxtail soup at Asahi Grill
Asahi Grill is a funny little spot. It looked like an L&L type plate lunch spot from the outside, but when you’re seated inside and look at the menus, you realize that it’s Kapiolani Coffee Shop (or something like that) re-incarnated and you feel like you’re at a mom & pop Japanese restaurant from the 50s.

I went for the Oxtail soup, but was not that impressed. The broth was lacking to me that day - like it hadn’t been cooked long enough. My friend had the eggplant curry which was also a little strange to me - seemingly sweet?

Comes with rice; you can upgrade to fried rice.

OK, all of this talk makes me miss the amaze-balls (been dying to use that word) noodle soups from China. Every province had it's own completely different but totally delicious specialty. This is the fully loaded noodle soup from Guizhou (southern China) that you can find all over Shanghai for about a buck. Rice noodles in a pork (beef?) broth with a tea egg, tofu, some sort of meat, lots of tendon, and green onions.

Gratuitous Shanghai shot:


Couple of locations around, including Ala Moana Shopping Center and Queen St

Goma Tei
Ward Center

Asahi Grill
Ward Avenue

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