Thin Wheat Line: Shio & Miso Ramen, Not So Hawaiian at All"/>
Thin Wheat Line is a weekly exploration of Seattle noodles.
Noodle: Shio ramen
Source: Aloha Ramen, 8102 Greenwood Ave., 838-3837 -- open for dinner only
After my saimin expedition of a few weeks ago, I wasn't sure what to make of a Hawaiian ramen shop. Turns out, though, that Lorenzo Rangel grew up in Okinawa, his wife Raiko is Japanese, and the couple lived in Hawaii before coming to Seattle. They're applying Lorenzo's four-star training to simple Japanese noodles. I approve.
I also need to say first, what a vast improvement over the forlorn King Falafel Grill space -- I can think of a dozen restaurant owners I'd love to show before and after pictures to. Is it really hard to understand the power of a coat of paint and a couple days of hard scrubbing? (The Rangels installed counter seating as well.)Aloha serves little more than three classic ramen styles: shio (salt), shoyu (soy sauce), and miso (fermented soybean paste), all of which are subtler than the milky, pork-dense tonkotsu broth you'll find at Samurai or Kaname. A while back, I was speculating with the Boom Noodle guys that the reason tonkotsu broth caught Seattle's imagination a few years back -- and definitely mine -- was that it was unlike anything you'd mix out of a packet.
There's no mistaking Aloha's noodles for instant, either. This is a picture of the shio ramen, a delicate chicken-pork broth -- nothing remarkable, but clear and clean, all the better for focusing on the slice of meltaway roast pork and the noodles. There's some bite to those noodles, without the chalky core that always puts me off at Samurai. The miso broth is even better, resonating to the higher pitch of fermented soybean paste, the savory broth tinged with sweetness. Much better than Samurai's version.
We asked Raiko if the shop made its own noodles. No. Where were they from, then? "I won't tell you, but it's not from here," she answered. Vancouver? LA? Hawaii? Coy smile. Well, noodle lady, feel free to keep all your secrets, as long as you can guarantee a consistent supply of ramen for me.