During my travels in London (of all places), me and my best friend stumbled upon Wagamama and their tonkotsu ramen. While it wasn't the best I've had, it was all I could get at that moment. It also kickstarted this primal need for more ramen.
London gave way to Shoryu, but in the Netherlands anything that has to do with the dish seems to translate to "noodles" and "wok". I like yakisoba, but you can't really compare it to a great tonkotsu. Luckily, as of late there have been some options available in the Netherlands. Especially in Amsterdam:
- Hakata Senpachi - currently ehr... recovering from a fire, but they usually serve ramen during lunch on weekends
- Ramen-ya - near Dam Square, has its own version op Ippudo's spicy karaka-men
- Fou Fouw Ramen - awesome if you want a good vegetarian version
- Taka Japanese Kitchen - hidden inside of Toko Dun Yong near Nieuwmarkt, only open from 12-4 PM making it a bit hard to actually visit
- SET - in The Hague and has a lot more Japanese dishes besides
It's not exactly popular yet in the Netherlands, but the culinary influence from the US and UK is definitely leaving its mark (where ramen is enjoying a bit of a hype status). Sadly, this means there's no way to get it in my hometown of Amersfoort. Which means I have to make it myself.
After learning about the basics of creating the dish, I almost immediately gave up on creating my own tonkotsu. Not that it is impossible. It's just not practical for me to boil pork bones for so long a time. Still, reading up on recipes gave me a good idea of what I needed to create my own take on it. I initially started experimenting by upgrading my instant noodles and slowly removed sachets and introduced my own ingredients.
Hence my first "scratch" result above: a miso ramen, with a spicy pork topping for which I kind of cheated with Spam/Smac, miso and sriracha. The most difficult part is getting the broth right. In the end I settled on a mixture of dashi, chicken stock and some soy sauce with a splash of sesame oil. The tare is easy if you can get your hands on miso. (I used red or aka miso.) For the egg 7 minutes in boiling water is normal, but I left it at 6 minutes instead. Oh and scallions.
Yeah, I'm missing a lot of other stuff, but for a scratch ramen, this is actually pretty good by my own reckoning. Probably need to dial down the dashi a bit. In any case, this means that next to the traditional Dutch stamppot I can now add an Asian staple food to my repertoire. Which means I can now skip London completely. Bliss.