MisoRamen.jpg

Thin Wheat Line is a weekly exploration of noodles in Seattle.

Noodle: Miso ramen

Source: Samurai Noodle, 606 Fifth Ave. S., 624-9321.

Price: Oh, dear.

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Miso Ramen: Less Pork, More Butter

MisoRamen.jpg

Thin Wheat Line is a weekly exploration of noodles in Seattle.

Noodle: Miso ramen

Source: Samurai Noodle, 606 Fifth Ave. S., 624-9321.

Price: Oh, dear. I forgot. I'll update when I find my receipt.

So I made it, what, five months? six? without mentioning the city's favorite ramen spot in this column. That's mostly because I did a ramen roundup a year ago, but also partly because I get more worked up about Samurai's tonkotsu broth than the actual noodles. But a while back, I passed a sign on the door advertising a new miso ramen, and it seemed a good excuse to remedy the omission.

I'm not sure if we're in the middle of spring break season or not, but it was high school week when I went in for a late lunch. I was surrounded by boys who each weigh as much as I would if my legs were amputated, and they were sucking up noodles like a cluster of small, localized tornadoes. It seemed fitting -- now that the foodistas have stopped raving (or ranting) about the arrival of a real ramen shop, it's back to being what it always intended to be: a place for a quick, cheap meal.

Samurai's new miso ramen is not like the soup you drink while waiting for your sushi to arrive. You don't catch any of the miso's sweet or fermented notes, but the flavor is there, floating on that of the pork broth. Actually, the pork factor is half of that of Samurai's tonkotsu ramen, so to compensate for the fact that you're not absorbing all that pig fat, they've added a pat of butter. It's like getting a hug after receiving a speeding ticket -- no substitute for the $250 your bank account just lost, but comforting nonetheless. Also, with the butter comes a quarter cup of sweet corn kernels, and miso, corn, and butter are an intuitive match. The Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, and Dianne Wiest of classic flavors, if you will.

Nevertheless, I'm back on the tonkotusu next time I return. It's always a bit overwhelming, but so are Tony Scott thrillers, and yet there I am in the theater, reveling in the mindless pyrotechnics. One change, however, disturbs me. What happened to Samurai Noodle's chashu? When did it go from being a slab of miraculously tender meat that tasted as if it was infused by bacon to something that tasted like a slice of pork tenderloin? It's all right to shake it up with new broths, guys, as long as you don't forget what your regulars love you for.

 
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