Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Ramen Halu

Ramen Halu
375 South Saratoga Ave.
San Jose, California 95129
Phone/Fax (408)246-3933
Hours: 11:30-1:30pm, 6-9:30pm Mon-Tue and Fri-Sat; 6-9:30pm Thu; 11:30-2pm, 5-8pm Sun; closed Wed
Cash only

Surf's up at Ramen Halu, a Pacific surfing-themed ramen restaurant in San Jose, where our adventurous band of Ramen Lovers enjoyed numerous bowls of ramen over the Thanksgiving holiday. We were at first discouraged by the large crowd of people waiting outside the restaurant, but as it turned out, they were just waiting for the restaurant to open for the day. If you're planning a visit, make sure you take note of Ramen Halu's non-standard operating hours.

Ramen Halu serves three types of broth. Halu is a rich, dark, pork-flavored broth with thick noodles, Sho-yu is a soy sauce broth with thin noodles, and Shio is a light salty broth with thin noodles. After selecting your broth type, feel free to add on extras like pork, egg, green onions, nori (seaweed), spinach, bamboo, mushrooms, or corn - or, choose from one of Ramen Halu's favorite combinations listed on the menu. If you're feeling indecisive (or very hungry), go for The Works, which comes with an entire plate heaped with a variery of colorful veggie toppings. We especially liked the green onions, which were crunchy and fresh, and the egg boiled in soy sauce, which was perfectly cooked to be just slightly runny on the inside.

The Halu ramen is extremely fragrant and delicious. Flavorful pieces of pork enhance the broth, while veggies provide color to the eye and texture in the mouth. The thicker, chewy noodles are wonderfully complemented to the rich broth and taste reasonably fresh. This is not the choice for a health-conscious consumer - be prepared to see small globules of pork fat floating in the thick and delicious soup. (Note: Ramen Halu's dishes can be ordered with less or more fat and salt.) Nevertheless, the Halu ramen is the restaurant's namesake dish and we can definitely see why!

The Sho-yu ramen is not as fatty as the Halu ramen, but still has a wonderful soy sauce flavor that is quite distinctive without being too salty. The thinner noodles are better suited to this lighter broth and have a delicate yet chewy nature. Feel free to load the Sho-yu ramen with lots of toppings if you want the broth to have some extra texture, since it is a much thinner liquid than the Halu broth.

The Shio ramen is the lightest of the three and is probably a good choice for someone who is looking to experience the flavors of the noodles and toppings on their own. The thin noodles are identical to the ones in the Sho-yu ramen. After tasting both the Halu and Sho-yu broths, the Shio seemed fairly bland, but is well-suited to a healthier and subtle palate and very tasty on its own. (Note: picture is taken before The Works are added.)

Portion size is generous for a single person. Prices are steep compared to other ramen restaurants (The Works will set you back around $13), but the quality of the ingredients makes up for at least some of the price difference. On the basic ramen, the extra toppings are generally one dollar each, which can add up quickly if you're going for variety. However, the chef is generous with the toppings, so you'll at least be getting a decent amount added for each topping!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Super Noodles - Barbecue Beef Flavour

Super Noodles are available under the Batchelors brand name in the UK and McDonnells name in Ireland. As you can see from the packaging, my Super Noodles come from Ireland, brought to me by Rebecca. In general, flavors for processed foods in the UK and Ireland seem to be stronger and more adventurous. So, there are flavors of Super Noodles that you would never see in the US, such as Spaghetti Bolognese and Southern Fried Chicken.

This particular package of Super Noodles is Barbecue Beef flavor, which happens to be Rebecca's favorite. I was amused to note that there is a mini-recipe printed on the "flavor sachet". It's hard to read from this blurry picture, but the Top Tip is "Fill hot pitta (sic) breads with steaming noodles. Top with flaked tuna and mayo." I presume that there are a variety of Top Tips so that you get a new one with every Super Noodles that you eat. Clever idea!

I received enhanced cooking directions from Rebecca for these Super Noodles. Here are the directions:

  1. Boil water on stove.
  2. Cook noodles in boiling water until soft.
  3. Drain almost all water but leave a little bit.
  4. Mix in flavor sachet and stir well.
  5. Enjoy!

As you can see, the noodles came out looking delicious! These noodles contain only a flavor packet, and no vegetable or oil packet. The flavor of these noodles is fairly strong and tastes like a mixture of beef, Worcestershire sauce, and barbecue sauce. I guess it lives up to its name! This is a rather basic ramen like Top Ramen, but definitely comes through with better execution.

Everything about Super Noodles exudes quality, from the shiny blue packaging to the neatly arranged flavor sachet within the package. While the noodles by themselves are somewhat plain, they would very competently complement additional vegetables and/or meats. The flavor is quite interesting, and not something that you would be able to find easily in other brands. If I could make a change to these, I would keep the flavor and add some dried vegetables to add some texture and variety.

Super Noodles Barbecue Beef Flavour - 7.0/10