Ramen, soba or udon in a hearty broth? I’m in noodle heaven, says Tom
I’ve never met a noodle I didn’t like. Actually, that’s not entirely true. I once suffered some godless ‘calorie-free’ abomination that had all the appeal of rubber snot. But that aside, I love ’em all, from Pot and Cup to rice stick, khanom chin, soba, udon and ramen.
And it’s the ramen I start off with this week, Chinese in origin, but now a Japanese institution, noisily slurped, often after a long night on the beers. Tori paitan, from Matsudai Ramen in Cardiff (matsudai.co.uk, £22 for two portions, £6.95 delivery), is a close relative of the more famous tonkotsu. But this speciality of Osaka is made from chicken rather than pork bones. Which makes the broth creamy, but rather lighter, managing to be both hearty and elegant, too. The noodles, cooked firm, have joyous bite and bounce, while everything, from the thick slices of braised pork chashu, to the oozing ajitama egg and sharp, umami blast of shio tare seasoning, is top notch. A ramen to remember.
As is the modern susuru ramen (£18 per person, plus £5 delivery) from Masaki Sugisaki, executive chef of Dinings SW3. The soup changes every month, along with the noodles, so check diningssw3.co.uk to see what’s available now. My broth is three days in the making, a mixture of Cornish red hen and shiitake mushroom stock, along with white tamari and a good whack of yuzu juice. It’s sprightly and lithe, with a very subtle depth. Taka-siumen noodles are pert, with a natural curl, and there are tender, slightly smoky slices of char sui cornfed chicken, and a soft-boiled nitamago egg, marinated in white soy and yuzu kosho. Very different from anything I’ve ever tried before, but very, very good indeed. The only problem is that the soup can only be delivered in London. There is, though, a rather more expansive Dinings home delivery box set at restokit.co.uk.
Finally, omiyage udon noodles: fat, white and chewy, handmade by the ever-reliable Koya (£14 for two portions,koyamail.co.uk). You simmer them for 15 minutes, drown them in a light, limpid fish dashi broth, then simply add a few sliced spring onions. Clean and wonderfully pure, it’s a symphony of glorious simplicity.
Drinks: Olly’s pairings for chocolate
Happy Easter! Chocolate and wine can unlock the gates of paradise, yet a mismatch can hurl your palate to the abyss. Stick to wines with rich sweetness, especially fortified styles. Inexpensive port is wonderful with dark chocolate. At the other extreme, white chocolate and chilled Asti is sublime – Asti is ludicrously good value and tastes like bubbly elderflower. And for your all-rounder, PX sherry is the nectar of the gods.
WINE OF THE WEEK M&S RUBY PORT (also via Ocado) (20%), £8. Terrific with dark chocolate, this really is liquid forest fruits.
ASDA EXTRA SPECIAL SPARKLING ASTI (7%), £7. Frothy fun, light on booze and divine to pair with white chocolate.
TORRES FLORALIS MOSCATEL (15%), £8.50, Morrisons. Orangey and elegant, serve chilled for scented splendour.
CAMPBELL’S RUTHERGLEN MUSCAT (17.5%), £12.99, Waitrose. Sleek, rich and moreish – a sultana surfing a wave of caramel.
TESCO FINEST PX SHERRY (15%), £6. The best all-rounder, sweet enough to tackle chocolate and a rich treat for Easter.