Thursday, September 29, 2005

Doll Instant Noodle - Spicy Beef Flavor

I had my doubts about a ramen brand called "Doll," but it turned out to be ok. Since I have very different opinions of the soup and the noodles, I'll divide my review into those two categories:

Soup: The soup base was a mixture of powder and hot sauce paste. Strangely, it was in a single package with a divider, which meant I had difficulty putting in just half of the seasonings like I usually do. Nevertheless, the soup flavor was quite a treat - spicy and flavorful with hot oil bubbles. Didn't taste much like beef though (they never do).

Noodles: I wasn't too pleased with the noodles. They took a long time to soften up, didn't absorb much of the soup flavor, and were very chewy. But to their credit, they did keep me full for about 3 hours, no small feat.

Which leads me to an interesting idea - mixing and matching soup from one package with noodles from another?

Ramen 101

For ramen novices, here's a brief yet informative introduction to the world of soup, noodle and topping:
Wiki Ramen Entry

Ryowa Noodle House - Best Ramen in Mountain View

Ever since moving to the Bay Area, I tend to eat ramen made in an actual restaurant versus the kind out of a packet. Thus, I leave most of the make-it-yourself ramen reviews up to my estimable siblings.

My particular area of expertise will be reviews of the great, mediocre and awful ramen restaurants. We start with the best ramen in restaurant in Mountain View - Ryowa.

Ryowa Noodle House
(650) 965-8829
859 Villa St. (between Bryant St. and Castro St.)

Located right in downtown Mountain View, Ryowa Noodle House is our favorite ramen restaurant in the area.

The Original Ramen is generally the safest way to go and the only thing Klint ever orders. It's not too salty, has a slight spicy edge and comes with half a hard-boiled egg and a few thin slices of lean pork. For many months my dish of choice was the fresh-side pork ramen which has a stronger soy sauce soup base comes with a couple large cubes of fatty pork. For a lighter, less-sodium laced meal, try the wonton ramen. It has a clearer broth but still flavorful. Be ready with a backup order because the restaurant often runs out of wontons early.

The noodles (which everyone knows makes or breaks the ramen) are generally well-cooked, tender but still a little chewy and very plentiful. The restaurant has strange seating, with most patrons seated around two u-shaped counters. There's a weird shelf that runs below the counter that prevents anybody from sitting comfortably, but your food comes pretty quickly so the pain is bearable. Ryowa also offers complimentary kimchee and cold tea.

Ryowa is always crowded so be prepared to wait if you decide to go around lunch time. If you can manage to find a spot inside to wait, entertain yourself with the Japanese TV and the random golf pictures decorating the walls.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Welcome to the Ramen Blog

This is a place for ramen lovers to keep track of which kinds of ramen are good and why. With seemingly hundreds of varieties to choose from, it's hard to keep them all straight! Remember to post name AND flavor. Happy Ramen Eating!