Ramen Fest at Makan Decatur

ramenfestmakan_by_ohmyomiyage

The food scene has exploded in Atlanta since I last lived here 10+ years ago, and my calendar is filled with one food festival after another – not that I’m complaining!  It’s such a great way to get acquainted with the city again and the many amazing restaurants.  Last week, my cousins and I couldn’t wait to attend the ramen fest hosted by Makan, a new modern Asian restaurant in Decatur.

Most of you know my love for ramen (evidence here, here, here, here, and here).  I’ve shied away from it since moving back to the US since.. who could do ramen better than Japan?  Well, I’m happy to say that although ramen in Atlanta isn’t as steeped in tradition or honed to perfection as in Japan, it’s definitely more innovative and imaginative with unconventional flavors.  It’s like coming up for fresh air after a month of eating nothing but your grandmother’s (very tasty) home cooking.

ramenfestmakan_by_ohmyomiyage

ramenfestmakan_by_ohmyomiyage

8 different restaurants served up their version of ramen in trial-sized bowls.  My favorite was the one from Makan (top photo), served in a flavorful overnight duck broth and served with a tender slice of duck breast.  I also loved the one from Victory (below), topped with perfect shiitake mushrooms.  Congrats to Makan on such a fun event.  I’m sure the next one will be even bigger.  Prepare your stomachs!

ramenfestmakan_by_ohmyomiyage

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Sobatei Takenoko

Sobatei Takenoko Restaurant in Taketomi Island Okinawa by ohmyomiyage

You don’t think I’d post about Taketomi without some foodie posts, did you? :)  My husband is a noodle fanatic so he tried to get as many bowls of okinawan soba in his stomach as possible.  Sobatei Takenoko on the northwest side of ‘downtown’ Taketomi was one of our favorites.  Friendly service, a homey atmosphere, great noodle texture and homemade soup make this place a must-eat!  Plus, it’s just a stone’s throw from West Pier, which makes it convenient too! Continue reading

How to Eat Soba

It seems like it would be so simple.  Pick up soba, put it in your mouth, chew, and swallow.  But just like many things in Japan with a history or tradition, there’s a proper way to eat soba.  Although there are hot soba dishes, truly good soba is enjoyed cold or chilled served on top of a zaru (a bamboo strainer).  And just like pasta, it’s served ‘al dente’ so that each bite of soba is chewy.

Soba dipping bowl - wasabi and green onions served over a bowl of tsuyu

Typically before the soba arrives, a server will bring you a cup filled with tsuyu (pronounced: tszoo-you; soba dipping sauce) covered with a small plate of wasabi and leeks.

Soba Dipping Sauce - wasabi and green onions. How to eat soba.

Take the plate off of the dipping cup, add your desired amount of wasabi and leeks to the tsuyu, and mix in the cup.

Soba Tsuyu with wasabi and green onions

When your soba is served, pick up some soba noodles with your chopsticks, dip it directly into the tsuyu, and slurp it up!

Dipping soba in tsuyu

It’s proper form to slurp up your noodles noisily, inhaling air while you eat.  Slurping is supposed to maximize the taste of food, allowing the flavors to spread throughout your mouth.  It’s a similar concept to aerating wine in your mouth to unlock the layers of flavors in the wine.  (It’s ok if you don’t feel up to this.  Personally, I can’t do it without splashing tsuyu all over my face.)

Soba-yu poured into tsuyu

When all the soba is finished, ask for soba-yu (pronounced: so-bah you) if it hasn’t been given to you already.  Soba-yu is the water that the soba was cooked in and is extremely nutritious.  Pour a bit into your dipping cup along with the remainder of your tsuyu, and drink it like a tea.  Once you enjoy a good soba the proper way, you’ll be on your way to eating like a local!

Shin Okubo – Tokyo’s Koreatown

When I’m craving Korean dishes, I head over to Shin Okubo – Tokyo’s Little Seoul.  In addition to the many restaurants and cafes, many women and girls visit Shin Okubo for its K-Pop goods.  These stores stock photographs, CDs, and anything related to Korean Pop stars.  If you come across a store with a large crowd of girls inside (and sometimes lining up outside), it’s probably a K-Pop idol store!

– One of the many K-Pop idol shops in Shin Okubo –

– Another smaller K-Pop idol shop –

My husband and I skip the K-Pop stores and beeline to our favorite Korean Chinese noodle shop, Shinjuku Hanten. You can watch the chef preparing and cutting the fresh noodles through the shop window.

– Chef and waitress waiting for noodles to cook –

This shop specializes in jajangmyeon (noodles topped with a thick black soy bean paste and pork) and jjamppong (noodles in a spicy soup topped with vegetables and seafood) – two of my favorite LA comfort foods!

– My combo dish, ready to be eaten! –

– Side dishes of raw onion with black soy bean paste and picked radish –

After a fulfilling lunch, we head over to Seoul Ichiba, which is a small Korean grocery store off of Okubo Dori.  The house specialty here is the packaged samgyetang (a healthy soup made with chicken, rice, and ginseng and simmered until the meat falls of the bones).  If you’re lucky enough to reach the store before it’s sold out, it makes an easy meal on a lazy day.  Just pour it into a pot and heat it up on the stove!  When they’re available, I stock up on a few and keep them in the freezer.  There’s nothing better on a cold, winter day!

– Seoul Ichiba Market in Shin Okubo (Source: Metropolis) –

Shinjuku Hanten, Okubo 1-11-1 Shinjuku, 03-3200-0124, Open 12pm – 6am daily.

Seoul Ichiba, Okubo 1-16-15 Shinjuku, Open 10am – 11pm daily.