God. I love noodles. All kinds. Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, Italian (pasta, as the fancipants say).
They’re just…amazing. That word is completely overused these days, but I don’t know how else to describe them. The things you can do to them, the different flavors you can make, every country that considers them a staple. Plus they’re a comfort food like NO. OTHER.
Back in my high school and (coughcommunitycough) college days, I used to try and see how many different ways I could “do up” ramen. What else in the entire world can you get 10 of, FOR ONE DOLLAR! We’re talking a full meal here.
I had the ‘boil and strain” recipe for Top Ramen, tossing the cooked noodles into a bowl of sriracha and green onion, then tossing them onto my (formerly) grilled-cheese-only skillet (was my pride and joy) to “pan-fry” them. That was my favorite. When I was extra super hungry, I’d add “chicken steamers” — frozen, cooked chicken in bags that you tossed into the microwave for 2 minutes. Those were the days.
I then discovered Cup O’Noodles “Creamy Chicken”, which changed my world. I was never into regular Cup O’ Noodles. The broth was clear and yet yellow all at once, odd meat pieces bobbing on top….oddly inverted peas that would ruin ANY bite they were a part of. But oh. Creamy Chicken was my shit. The creaminess countered any awful pea / chicken puff flavor while only enhancing those of the dried, chewy corn.
Then I discovered pho. Well, rediscovered. My mom and I used to drive my dad to the airport every single monday morning before school. EARLY. Sea-Tac airport was about an hour’s drive from my house in Snohomish, Washington. Why did I go? Well, I LOVED my dad, of course. But I REALLY FUCKING LOVED sausage and egg mcmuffins from McDonald’s. On the way out to the airport, I’d sleep, because even freaking McDonald’s wasn’t open yet. I’d sleepily kiss my dad goodbye as we pulled up to the terminal, then I’d park my ass in the front seat, ready for McMuffin time.
Some days, the flight times would change, and my mom, sister and I would find ourselves in Seattle, shopping and ready for lunch. Lunch for us meant NOTH-ING but noodles. Lunch WAS noodles. Our favorite was a place on Martin Luther King Blvd (the one in Seattle proves to fit the Chris Rock joke of the irony of Martin Luther King Blvd’s being the most dangerous streets in any US city). The waitress had disgustingly long hair. To the back of the calves, long. But oh, the noodles were good. So flavorful that I preferred them “naked”. No sugar, no chili paste, no fish sauce. JUST NAKED. I still prefer my pho this way today. There are some great pho places in LA that I do love, but the broth is just…too clean. I don’t want new broth. I want the kind of broth that sits on the stove ALL day, with those icky beef bones causing all sorts of gross foam on top. Then I’d prefer it to sit on the stove even another day after that. I can always tell when a pho place is too…clean and fresh. I prefer my noodle places with a B grade. I’m sorry. Same goes for burrito joints. I know other things come along with that B grade (animals / urine hands), but I’m willing to deal with it as long as I get an aged, amazing broth. I have a pretty good immune system.
Then came a trip to Japan. I credit all my noodle knowledge to the few days I had in Japan with John, having the most wonderful, milky ramen I could EVER IMAGINE. I compare EVERY bowl of ramen I have now to the ramen I had in Japan.
I don’t know why this poor man could be so angry while eating noodles. That’s the face I make when I do NOT have noodles.
In my older age, I have now fallen in love with Thai noodles. I often hit up Thai Town in LA (the stretch of Hollywood Blvd between Normandie and Western) and sit down, solo, to enjoy a rich bowl of Thai boat noodles. The broth is dark and almost swamp-like. Like you kind of can’t tell what the hell they used to make that broth. I truly wouldn’t be surprised to see a human foot or 8 in the back. I don’t care. And god dammit, what’s up with all my most delicious spots taking only cash? It should be ILLEGAL for any functioning business to only accept cash. When I see a “cash only” sign, I think “shady”. I mean, ideally EVERYONE pays with cash, always. That’d be nice. But you’re a business! I would prefer if you had enough seriousness in your business to willingly have a paper trail.
Where was I going with this?
Oh. SOME OF THE BEST NOODLES I’VE EVER HAD.
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