Ramenventure 2: Ramen Parlor

South Bay is widely touted as the ramen hotspot in the Bay Area, despite the heavy-hitters that are settling in the city and the East Bay this year. The options for top-notch ramen are nearly endless: Orenchi, Maru Ichi, Ramen Parlor, and Ramen Dojo come quickly to my mind (and to the top of Yelp).

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We decided to focus on Ramen Parlor and Ramen Dojo, which are both owned by chef Kazunori Kobayashi, a veritable noodle king in San Mateo. Ramen Dojo, the older sibling, offers more classical options, like miso and soy sauce ramen. On the other hand, Ramen Parlor is the wild child, offering garlic lobster and pork tan tan men broths that tempted our more adventurous side.

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Ramenventure 1: Coco’s Ramen!

I like to think of myself as a scientist. This makes sense, because I am in grad school to study science. More importantly though, it means I indiscriminately apply scientific methods to everyday things.

This upcoming series, aptly named Ramenventures, is an example of that life philosophy.

When I lived in Boston, I often took a rather random-walk-like approach to finding great food. That worked because I had 5 whole years to sort out where the great food was.

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Now I’m in the Bay Area, though, and I just want to know where all the great food is RIGHT NOW. Specifically, great ramen. In Boston, I was fortunate enough to stumble on an affordable apartment so close to 4 great ramen shops that I would often hurry to one or the other for a quick bowl on an especially chilly night.

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Now I live in the East Bay, where great ramen is more scarce (but soon won’t be), and traveling to a great ramen shop can be a trek. So, two friends and I, Betsy and Stephanie, took it upon ourselves to put in the hard work and effort to answer the age-old question: who has the best ramen in the Bay Area?

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South America, Part 2

Fortunately for everyone reading this blog, the food adventures in South America does not end with the previous post! In this second post, I’ll be writing about my experiences at a Chilean restaurant called Ambrosia.

Named as one of the top 50 restaurants in Latin America, Ambrosia is located at the edge of Santiago in a fairly suburban area. The space itself comprises of various rooms that are pieced together to create an intimate and homey feel.

We started off with a drink each to prepare ourselves for the meal. Armed with our drinks in hand, we began to decipher the Spanish menu with the help of Google Translate.

First were the appetizers. We knew we wanted something different, and the sweetbread and foie gras on the menu simply did not impress us. The entire process of picking an appetizer was harder than we thought. We really struggled to figure out what some of dishes were. So, when we stumbled upon what seemed like a tart of “hedgehog”, we thought it was too intriguing to pass up even though we weren’t exactly sure of what we were signing ourselves up for. Either way, we had already tried beef heart and alpaca on this trip, how could it get any weirder?

This is what we ended up actually getting.

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It doesn’t look like what you imagine a “Tart of Hedgehog” looks like right?

Turns out, when Google says “hedgehog”, they really meant sea urchin! For the first few bites, the saltiness and sliminess of the sea urchin caught us completely off guard. Guinea pigs are known for its chew. We expected a similar chew from a hedgehog as well! It took a few more bites for us to confidently pronounce it as sea urchin (and also realize that when Google Translate said “hedgehog”, they probably meant “sea urchin” who is similarly spiky). The crust of the tart was buttery; the sweet crumble on the side balanced out the saltiness of the urchin. I will not attempt to describe the mysterious green sauce on the plate since I think it will just be one of those mysteries in life that I will never figure out.

Following that, we each ordered an entree. First, there was a seared Chilean white fish on top of a beet risotto paired with a pea puree. The red from the beets contrasted beautifully with the vibrant green from the puree on the simple white plate. Overall, the risotto was the star of the dish (if not the meal) in terms of colors and taste.

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Then, there was the Wagyu beef served with a Gorgonzola mashed potato “clouds”, eggplant puree, and leeks. The Gorgonzola “clouds” were the best mashed potatoes I have ever had (if you can even call them mashed potatoes). The fluffiness and the creaminess of the cheese “clouds” made me wonder why not all mashed potatoes were created the same way.

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Last but not least, a giant bowl of chocolate mousse to top it all off! We were originally going to order the dessert sampler in addition to the mousse, because we figured we were only here once and everything was so cheap anyways! However, when we were ordering, our waiter warned us that the mousse is gigantic and we should only stick with one or the other (which was a really good call from him since we were basically rolling out of the restaurant when we finished).

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In Peru, ceviche is eaten with a spoon (South America, Part 1)

Hello, I’m Ruby. The last one to post of the trio here, because I’m a slacker and I needed to figure out how to write as if I wasn’t writing a work email.

When it comes to cheap and amazing food, South America is bursting with restaurants that offer it. As a result, my two weeks in South America felt like heaven since I got the chance to try out some of the best restaurants in the Latin America/the World.

First stop: Maido

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A very special half-birthday

Two weekends ago, it was my half-birthday, which is a special time in any young woman’s lif–scratch that. I can’t even pretend to be serious about that!

Some might say that, more importantly, two weekends ago was my last weekend living in Boston. Just writing that makes me wrinkle my nose because it feels so weird.

In any case, in order to celebrate the joyous (half-birthday) and sad (moving) events, Ruby, Sarah, and I did it up big in the only way we know how: with food!

On Friday, we went to the Helmand, an Afghani restaurant in Cambridge.

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Our favorite thing about the Helmand (besides the super reasonable prices) is that at least one-third of the menu features lamb, the meat of the gods. Since we love to eat like gods, we ordered three lamb dishes: a soup (pictured above), a rack of lamb with sauteed greens, and a lamb stew dish called lamb lawand (which I have ordered, without fail, every time I have gone to the Helmand).

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Four pours, three friends, and too much alcohol for a Tuesday night

Tonight, Sarah, Ruby, and I went to T.W. Food in Cambridge for their 4 course wine series event. Despite the fact that we had dinner yesterday evening, we somehow found things to talk about other than the food directly in front of us. Here are some snapshots of what we ate:

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Tonight all of the wine was from coastal Provence.

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The amuse-bouche was duck liver mousse on brioche, plus beet salad coated in ancho chili dressing with cilantro. Not pictured is the bread service, which Ruby and Sarah promptly destroyed (we got 3 refills over the course of one night).

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