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The Ramen May Just Be Worth the Wait

The Ramen May Just Be Worth the Wait

It’s Taiwanese, not Japanese. I just call it — damn good. However you describe it, the fact remains that Toki Underground’s ramen hits the spot, especially on those cold winter nights. Oh, and bills.

The problem with offering something so tasty and plentiful for $10 is that I’m tempted to order more than just ramen. So I did — sides, ramen add-ons, and a bottle of sake for good measure. I felt like a kid in a candy store. I wanted to try everything!

There’s a drawback. The wait time this past Saturday was about two hours. An hour is usually my limit, but I made an exception for Toki. On the bright side, I was able to quench my thirst and drown my wait-time sorrows with Japanese whiskey and snacks at a neighboring restaurant — Smith Commons. (My first, albeit short-lived, trip, to Smith Commons made me want to go back for a full meal.)

For those that have already been to Toki, you know the place is small, with roughly 20 seats. Ironically, it’s not underground. It occupies the floor above The Pug.

My friend and I started with the vegetable dumplings, pan-fried. Upon request, dumplings are prepared steamed, pan-fried, or fried. I liked the dumplings, especially the pillowy-tender, house-made wrappers, which were filled with seasonal vegetables, ginger, garlic and scallions. The garlic was slightly charred. Whether intentional or not, it led to a slightly bitter aftertaste, which my friend did not like and I could have done without. I’m not convinced yet. Next time, I think I’ll try the pork dumplings, because most things taste better with pork.

Ramen comes with noodles (of course), seasonal vegetables, half of a soft-boiled egg, sesame, scallions, and nori. All ramens, except for the masumi and miso, begin with a tonkotsu base. Tonkotsu is made by boiling pork bones over high heat until the bone marrow is released into the liquid and emulsifies. The process takes a full day and results in the real star of the show — a rich, thick, flavorful and salty broth.

We ordered two ramens — the Hakata Classic, which comes with pork loin, and the Curry Chicken Hakata, which contains a five-spice fried chicken in a curry-flavored tonkotsu. Both of them were very well-executed and flavorful. As a matter of personal preference, I’d choose the Hakata Classic over the Curry Chicken. In short, I liked the fried chicken in the Curry Chicken, but the broth was a little too overwhelming for me. Of course, I also had to order the pork cheek with a hoisin-based glaze, which is one of the “ramen add-ons.” I didn’t think it was necessary, but it was so deliciously tender that I didn’t regret my decision for one minute.

We also ordered a side of house-made kimchi and the Endorphin sauce (Sriracha-style sauce). I’m a Sriracha addict and I wish I could buy kimchi in bulk. Needless to say, it was a real treat to eat Toki’s versions of each.

The road to its grand opening has been long and plagued with construction delays, but it’s the little touches that show just how much of a labor of love Toki has been for chef and owner Eric Bruner-Yang. (Apparently, he tastes every bowl of ramen that leaves his kitchen.) His hipster style, echoed in Toki’s decor, fits in well with the H Street corridor, which has become one of the places to open a restaurant. It’s changing so quickly that I can’t quite keep up.

In short, check this place out. I’d like to suggest getting to Toki right when it opens to avoid the long wait, but I have a feeling that it won’t matter.


5 Mistakes to Avoid When Cooking Shrimp

Don't let these common pitfalls come between you and perfectly-cooked shrimp.

Shrimp is the most popular type of seafood in the U.S., and for good reason: it&aposs delicious, nutritious, relatively inexpensive, it cooks up quickly for weeknight dinners, and it always feels a little luxe. Plus, it&aposs incredibly versatile: at the risk of sounding like Forrest Gump famously listing all the ways the "fruit of the sea" can be cooked, shrimp is the star of countless dishes including shrimp cocktail, gumbo, scampi, and coconut shrimp — to name a few.

But this crowd-pleasing crustacean can also be tricky to shop for, prep, and cook. And no one wants to spend their money on shrimp that&aposs past its prime or ends up dry and overcooked. So here are the five most common mistakes to avoid when cooking shrimp so you end up with fresh, sweet, and succulent results every time.


Take it slow: Lessons from a ramen shop

A bowl of ramen can offer us more than an explosion of flavours. — Pictures by CK Lim

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COMMENTARY, Feb 18 — A bowl of ramen can impart more than an explosion of flavours upon our taste buds. Perhaps, if we are open to it, ramen tell us more about how we live.

It begins with patience. As you join the queue to enter the ramen shop, you could be fidgeting about the agonising wait. Like a child on a road trip with no end in sight, you call out “Are we there yet?” if only to yourself.

Or you could observe how the others in the line behave. Most are happily engaged with some form of active distraction: chatting with friends, eyes stuck to their phones or indulging in a bit of people watching, i.e. fellow diners and passers-by.

One or two are simply looking ahead, their full attention concentrating on the meal ahead once they cross the threshold. This is what they envision:

Finally reaching and standing right in front of the doorway. Entering the shop and being greeted by the staff. Irrashaimase! “Welcome to our shop!”

Selecting their ramen of choice from the vending machine. Passing their ticket to one of the staff. Sitting down once it is their turn. In smaller shops, the queue continues inside, standing space behind diners who are already eating.

Entering the ramen shop, you are greeted by the vending machine and vats of boiling water.

Every step is replaced by the next, like clockwork. Everyone knows the score.

Yes, there is a lot of waiting.

Yet even before you step foot into the ramen shop, there has already been hours of preparation. The painstaking making of the broth — from washing the bones to soaking and simmering the konbu seaweed to produce a clear dashi.

The cleaning of the kitchen, the counter space, the tiny stools. Checking to ensure every container has been refilled — chopsticks, serviettes, jugs of iced water, seasoned oils, vinegar, seven-spice shichimi — so no customer may be left wanting.

Plenty happens before a ramen shop is open from kitchen work to preparing the condiments.

The vats of boiling water to cook the noodles. Pouring hot broth on top of a spoonful or two of tare seasoning and allowing them to blend naturally in the bowl. Shaking excess water from the cooked noodles, a graceful and explosive athletic feat. Using large chopsticks to rearrange the strands of noodles just right.

The symphony, the dance behind the bar. Friendly chats between the ramen shop proprietor and his customers who are gregarious, and those who are left alone to eat in meditative silence. The unhurried nature of everything but also their brisk, efficient movements. Not a single action is wasted.

Take it slow. Good things take longer to happen than we would like, but they will come. And they will be worth the effort.

Your bowl of ramen finally arrives, and is presented to you with as much élan as the staff can muster before moving on to the next order.

Everything happens step by step. Friendly chats between the ramen shop proprietor and his customers.

You take a few seconds to take in the vision before you: Now this is beauty. Now surely this is perfection. A few seconds but no more than that. It’s time to eat while your ramen is hot.

First you breathe in the aroma. Then tentatively, a sip of the soup. Using the chopsticks as best you can, you guide some noodles towards your lips, slurp noisily to help cool them down. You do not intend to shame yourself and allow your meal to congeal.

Here, a bite of torched chashu or fermented menma. Meat and bamboo shoots. Divine. And you repeat the motions — sip, slurp, chew — till your bowl is clean.

Take it slow. Enjoy the moment. Fully absorb every aspect of it. Appreciate being here and not imagine being elsewhere. Because we are not elsewhere, are we? To insist on disengaging with the present is like arguing with reality. It won’t make us any happier.

Be it the soup or the noodles, one appreciates and is thankful for each component.

Before you depart (and here we do not linger for it isn’t polite to let other hungry customers wait), you say “Gochisosama deshita” or “Thank you for the meal” in Japanese. The staff, seeing that you have politely, kindly, returned your bowl to the counter top — it’s the least you can do, you reckon — say “Osore irimasu.” I’m sorry to trouble you.

For you are expressing gratitude not only for the delicious food they made for you but for the entire experience. The ambience and the seating, the warmth of the kitchen, the steam from the bowl of ramen, allowing you to forget the coldness that awaits you outside the shop, and be present for this one wonderful moment.

To be present, to breathe in the steam, the aroma, the flavours, and to be nowhere else but here. To be present and to be who you truly are, without apologies or regrets, and not anyone else.

Eating in meditative silence.

Take it slow. For if we miss this moment, it will be gone forever. Author Tim Ferriss observed that time is a non-renewable resource. No one knows how much of it we have or have remaining. What we do know is the time we have right now, and what we choose to do with it.

To love ramen goes beyond an appreciation of the craft but also delight in receiving lessons in mindful living. For the patience it takes to boil a vat of collagen-rich bones for a day or two. For being fully present for the bowl of soup and noodles in front of you instead of playing games on your phone.

It is a remedy for our modern world where attention is scarce and peace of mind scarcer still. Take it slow.


What’s Wrong With “Normal” Noodles?

First, regular noodles are high in refined carbohydrates and have minimal nutritional value.

In fact, there are approximately 75g carbs per 100g in wheat noodles (2).

This amount rules noodles out for anyone following a low carb diet, as well as for diabetics, who generally avoid such carbohydrate-dense foods.

Also, many health-conscious people recognize that processed carbs are unhealthy. For instance, diets high in refined carbohydrates have links to a wide range of chronic diseases (3, 4, 5).

Although many people try to avoid carb-heavy traditional noodles, zoodles are suitable for all sorts of different diets.

So, whether you follow paleo, LCHF, low-fat or a vegan diet, zoodles are a much healthier option.


8 Other World Fruit (Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid)

During the competition for what makes the better bento box, Kobayashi and her maid dragon, Tohru, end up preparing plenty of delicious stuff. Still, Tohru's entry for the desert portion really goes off the deep end. Sneaking around to the other world, Tohru brings in a pink fruit that jumps to life and starts barking after being bitten.

This fruit doesn't have a name, nor are many details about how it tastes given, but it's apparently delicious. Since it was meant to be a desert, it's likely very sweet. It might just be good enough to be worth the freakiness that comes with it.


2018 Tesla Model 3: It may just be worth the wait

The Tesla Model 3 is the most hyped car since the days of the Model T. Since it was announced in June 2016, more than half a million people have deposited $1,000 to reserve their Model 3 sight unseen, drive untested. But with deliveries to customers moving at horse-and-buggy pace, the hype has waned to skepticism.

The so-called electric vehicle for the masses didn't reach its first real-world customer until December 2017. New-to-Tesla owners who want the entry-level model will have to wait until the first quarter of 2019. At best.

With so many other affordable long-range electric vehicles coming to market, is the Model 3 worth waiting for?

To find out, we spent the afternoon in a Model 3 owned by a friend whose family owns a Model S.

For now, it comes only with rear-wheel-drive, the extended-range 310-mile-range 75 kWh battery pack ($9,000), and the premium upgrade interior ($5,000). That's a starting price of $49,000.

For all intents and purposes, the 238-mile, $36,620 Chevy Bolt available nationwide now is an electric vehicle for the masses, as is the 151-mile, $29,990 Nissan Leaf.

At this point, the Model 3 might be less about Tesla CEO Elon Musk's vision of a sustainable future so we don't have to colonize Mars and more about if Tesla can become a mass production automaker that might, maybe, someday, be profitable.

Visually, the Model 3 looks like a mashup version of the elegant Model S and the humpbackish Model X three-row crossover. Incidentally, as of this writing, Tesla started seeking parts bids for its next vehicle, a compact crossover known as the Model Y. If not for an old Ford trademark on the Model E name that forced Musk and Co. to call it the Model 3, the Tesla family line would have spelled S-E-X-Y. True story.

It looks good but doesn't have the same striking proportions as the Model S. It's as low to the ground, but since Model 3 is a foot shorter, it looks chubbier. There are some body-panel gaps that auto critics like to point out as a quality control issue, but most consumers won't notice and won't care. The deep blue metallic paint, a $1,000 upgrade over the standard black, is sharp. Instead of retractable door handles, Model 3 uses cheaper chrome push-handles that are still flush with the body for improved aerodynamics.

The inside is where it distinguishes itself from the Model S and every other car on the road. There is no gauge cluster behind the steering wheel there is nothing except a piece of open-pore wood trim extending from door to door. The speedometer, odometer, radio controls, steering wheel position button, side mirrors buttons, climate _ everything _ is housed in the 15-inch center screen. The screen has a horizontal instead of vertical orientation compared with the 17-inch screen in other Tesla models. On the left third of the screen is a static display for speed and other vehicle info. On the bottom are climate controls. In the center is everything else. It doesn't take long to get used to, but it's best to set mirrors and steering wheel position while stopped.

The cabin is Spartan in design, which makes for a good user experience. Yes, UX is now integral to cars too. Even the steering wheel is relatively Spartan, with just a left and right roller ball control. For people who remember steering wheels free of all buttons except a horn, it is a welcome throwback. But the dependence on the touch screen can be confusing for some functions, such as the windshield wiper control. The left stalk has a button for wiper fluid, but the wiper speed settings for weather outside of California are on the screen.

Other owners have had problems with the screen, which our friend best summarized as a "computer." And like a computer, sometimes a hard reset is in order. He had to reset it to get the 4G LTE network restarted so it would pair with his phone, which uses the Tesla app to condition the car, open the locks, and other vitals. If the smartphone is not functional, there is a credit-card-size "key" that will start the car. There is no key fob. So it goes in the technology age.

Despite having a steering-column mounted "gear" stick, there is a thick center console with deep storage areas and a clever phone charger under the screen. We prefer the open legroom of the Model S, which uses an obeche tray so the space under the dash is open from door to door.

Rear visibility is limited, but the panoramic windshield creates an open spaciousness. Rear-seat legroom is also limited, and there was room for no one behind our 6 foot, 3 inch owner. Cargo room is exceptional, however, thanks to the 60/40 split seats. But even with the Model 3's front trunk, the Bolt has more vertical space and cubic volume.

The understated joy of any Tesla, however, is how well it drives. Even at more than half the price of the quickest Tesla, the Model 3 with the larger 75 kWh battery pack hits 60 mph in 5.1 seconds, according to Tesla. But in many forums and other automotive outlets, times of 4.6 seconds are common. Either way, the "shift"-less acceleration is a straight shot that pulls back the corners of your mouth into a smile. The low center of gravity, with the heavy battery pack under the floor between the axles, provides Porsche-like handling on turns. Steering can be firmed up from comfort, to normal, to sport. The car is a blast to drive.

There are only two regenerative brake settings, and it'd be nice if there were a manual setting like in the Bolt and other GM products.

The concern as Tesla ramps up production of the Model 3 is its own success. The $7,500 federal tax credit gets cut in half once an automaker sells 200,000 total EV units, before being phased out in half-year increments. Tesla will get there this year, as will GM and Nissan.

To people considering canceling their order because of quality concerns or general frustration, I would recommend holding on. The Bolt EV is a good, practical car, with great tech and crossover versatility. But the Model 3 is the best "affordable" electric vehicle on the market. It's a compelling option in the compact luxury space, regardless of powertrain. It's fun to drive and cutting-edge, and with over-the-air software updates it can be upgraded continuously from your home garage. It is the vehicle for the technological age, with glitches, production delays and early adopter pride. The Bolt is the safer play for sure, but when has safe ever been sexy?


The Best Fruits and Vegetables for Dehydrating

Well-washed fruit such as halved strawberries, sliced apples, pears, bananas, apricots (and other stone fruits including peaches) are great for dehydrating. You can dehydrate mangoes, pineapple, tomatoes, and citrus too. Smaller berries can be left whole. Be sure to give the fruit a bath in a citric-acid solution (or lemon juice and water) to preserve flavor and color.

Vegetables can be great to save as well some veggies like carrots and broccoli need a quick blanch in boiling water to clean off any bacteria and preserve colors.


The Ramen May Just Be Worth the Wait - Recipes

We decided to take a trip to Japan Town via Uber. We thought we were early for dinner at 530pm but there was already a long queue outside Marufuku Ramen (across Books Kinokuniya in Japan Center East Mall). Their menu is limited - Pork Tonkotsu or Chicken Paitan ramen, some side orders and drinks. We ordered 2 Pork Tonkotsu (USD 13) non-spicy and 2 mildly spicy Pork Tonkotsu DX (USD 17), this comes with additional ingredients of braised pork belly, corn and nori seaweed. We're not fans of chicken breasts which they use in the Chicken Paitan but I do understand Americans seem to prefer chicken breasts. The soup broth was rich and milky while the ramen were just the right texture! What a brilliant, comforting meal! Good value too!

20 - 24 of 72 reviews

Ok, it was amazing. Ate there twice during a three day stay. The paitan ramen was good, but the tonkatsu was nothing short of amazing! Go. Yesterday there will be a wait. It will be worth it.


Pray. Wait. Trust.


“I love to wait!” said no one ever.

Just ask the 15-year-old counting down the months until he or she can be a licensed driver. Or the businessman who has been passed over time and time again for a job promotion. Or the pregnant mother eagerly anticipating the baby she has carried for nine months.

Waiting is not a popular past-time, but it’s a big part of our lives. We spend countless hours waiting in traffic jams, in grocery check-out lines, and at the doctor’s office. We wait, and we wait. And we wait.

Every January for the past seven years, I’ve led an online Daniel Fast. Each fast has been an incredible time in God’s presence as thousands of believers have joined together in prayer. Since it takes months to prepare materials for the January event, I usually start preparing for it in September. In the past, God has given me a theme, along with a related verse or passage. Then I’ve built the fast around that theme. However, this year has been different.

By late October, I still didn’t have any clear direction on what to do. Although I’d been praying for months about the fast, I wasn’t hearing anything specific from God. But what I did hear was this:

So that’s what I’m doing. I’m continuing to pray about January. I’m waiting on the Lord to make my path clear. I’m choosing to trust in Him to answer at just the right time.

But I know I’m not the only one waiting on God right now. What about you? What are you waiting for?

Whatever it is, take it to the Lord in prayer (yes, just like the old hymn). Talk to God about your need. Maybe it’s something you’ve been praying about for weeks, months, or even years. I know it can be difficult to keep bringing the same request to God, but you can’t give up now! God is at work, and He wants you to trust Him.

One thing I recommend is to rehearse His promises to you. Truth will keep you on track when you get weary in the waiting. Here are a few of my favorite verses:

  • “Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God. Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel” (Phil. 4:6-7 CEV).
  • Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
  • Wait for the LORD be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD” (Ps. 27:14).
  • “Those who wait upon the LORD will renew their strength they will mount up with wings like eagles they will run and not grow weary they will walk and not faint” (Is. 40:31 BSB).
  • “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O LORD, do not abandon those who search for you” (Ps. 9:10 NLT).
  • Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Prov. 3:5-6).

Waiting may not be fun, but it’s always a faith-building exercise that makes us stronger in the Lord. Over the past few weeks, I’ve discovered a growing sense of excitement as I patiently (and sometimes not so patiently) wait on God’s plan for January to be revealed. Whatever He has in store for me, it will be worth the wait! The same is true for you. God’s purposes for you are good (Jer. 29:11), and you can trust Him to work everything out. Just remember:


15. Menya Saisai Showacho (Showacho): A Full, Completely Delicious Menu

Menya Saisai Showacho is a popular ramen shop near Abeno Harukas, Japan’s tallest building, in southern Osaka. Order the Karashi Miso Aemen (Mustard Miso Noodle Salad) (*5) pictured above (880 yen with tax) when you visit.

The miso used is homemade, created with the owner’s family recipe, making it an addictive, unspeakably unique flavor that even Japanese people have rarely eaten before. This is a dish that you definitely won’t find at any other ramen shop.

The combination of its great flavor and individuality is magnificent. The amount of noodles may not be much, but the dish is full of vegetables, making it more than filling.

It isn’t unusual for there to be a line of above 20–30 people right after they open on a Saturday or Sunday, but when you consider their meticulous hospitality along with the flavor of their ramen, then you’ll think it’s natural for there to be a line. It’s a bit of a distance from central Osaka but is a location to try.

*5 Aemen: a type of ramen that you eat together with a small amount of dressing in place of soup.

Menya Saisai


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