Ryo's Ramen Talk No.1
As a specialty Japanese ramen shop, we are proud to be diligent, honest, and passionate about ramen. We will never serve pre-made, artificially preserved broth or use mass-produced commercial noodles that other ramen shops may use. If you stop by at Samurai Noodles, we promise to always present you with our fresh, handmade noodles and our authentic ramen broths.
Today, we would like to talk you about the thin straight Tonkotsu noodles that we make here at Samurai Noodle. First of all, we use a noodle making machine (about 700 pounds) that we have imported from Japan and produce over 1000 servings of noodles on a daily basis. You can watch our noodle maker skillfully craft our noodles at the Samurai Noodle’ s University District store or Houston store almost every day! You might watch our noodle makers at work and think that making noodles is an easy task, but you would be sadly mistaken! Noodle making requires a sensitive touch that you can’ t learn from reading a manual or recipe. The recipe itself must be constantly altered slightly depending on several factors including the temperature and humidity. Noodle making is an art that requires the noodle master to “feel” the noodles.
Producing our own noodles not only requires
employing a skilled noodle maker and purchasing a
noodle machine, but is also more expensive than
purchasing mass-produced commercial noodles. So
why do we do it? We make our own noodles because
we want to control the freshness, control the quality,
and preserve the natural sweetness in our wheat
The noodles served at Samurai Noodles must be super fresh so that you can experience eating really-short-cooked very firm noodles known in Japan as “Bari-kata” , “Hari-gane” , or even “Kona-otoshi” . We want you to enjoy the BITE or “Koshi” which is the sensation of biting into the “Al-Dente” noodles. When you eat at Samurai Noodle, we don’ t just want you to only enjoy the flavor, but we also want you to enjoy and experience the different textures, or the BITE of our ramen.
The freshness of our noodles is definitely something that we want you to feel, but we also want you to taste the natural sweetness of the noodles. If you were to take a good look at noodles served in other ramen shops, you will notice that their noodles are somewhat translucent. This occurs when the wheat flour to substance flour ratio is low, which is a way many noodle makers reduce their production cost. Substance flour is much cheaper than wheat flour, but the tradeoff is, the loss of the wheat flour’ s natural sweetness. When we were creating our noodle recipe, we had the noodle machine manufacturer eat our noodles. What we needed to hear before we finalized our recipe was “your noodles are sweeter than most ramen noodles in Japan” . After many trials, we got those very words! The noodle machine manufacturer has hundreds of thousands of clients, and has eaten countless numbers of noodles from them all. Gaining their approval has led us to pride ourselves in our noodle recipe. In order to further bring out the natural sweetness of wheat flour, both our Seattle and Houston stores proudly only use flour from local mills and distributors.
Tonkotsu ramen has been Samurai Noodles specialty since 2006. “Ton” means pork and “Kotsu” means bone. Tonkotsu Ramen essentially translates to “Pork Bone Ramen” . While the origins of Tonkotsu ramen can be traced back to both Fukuoka (Hakata) Kyushu Japan or Kurume Kyushu, Samurai Noodle’ s Tonkotsu Ramen is based off of the Hakata Tonkotsu ramen. The “soup” that comes with Tonkotsu ramen is not just simply “porky water” , but rather a thick, rich, broth that takes days to create. We won’ t be talking about our “soup” in detail today, but it will be covered in our later sessions.
The noodles that come with Tonkotsu ramen usually have unique and distinctive characteristics. These Tonkotsu noodles generally do not contain any eggs, so they appear to be a very straight, white, and skinny. In Hakata Kyushu Japan, people generally like to enjoy the “Koshi” (Bite) in their Hakata Tonkotsu noodles. For this reason, it is common to order “Kata-men" (firm noodles), "Bari-kata" (extra firm), "Hari-gane" (metal wire), or "Kona-otoshi” (powder dropping). It is essential to not leave the noodles in liquids for an extended period of time since the noodles absorb moisture and become soggy. When the noodles are soggy, the Koshi is lost. Here in America, some people may consider Hakata style Tonkotsu noodles to be undercooked, or uncooked, but this is how Japanese people enjoy the “Koshi” in noodles. When eating at a ramen shop, there is generally “Kae-dama” , or an additional add-on noodle option for customers. This option is served after the first noodle is served, and is eaten with the remaining broth. This Kae-Dama option aims to serve our noodles as fresh as possible so the customers are able to enjoy the Koshi of the noodles. Again, noodles that remain in broth for a few minutes absorb liquids and