leave your inhibitions at the door
Whenever we visit my brother in NYC, we always spend an inordinate amount of time in Chinatown. I suppose it’s because it’s a fun 10 minute walk down Broadway from his place. Or it could be the wonderful, uber-authentic Chinese food that’s available. Or it could be all the knock-off purses and other goods we always end up with.
On this past visit, we were in a specialty chopstick shop and I asked the salesperson for a recommendation for ramen. I figured she’d be helpful because she was young, a bit of a hipster, and – this is most important – she actually spoke English.
Her first question was, “Chinese or Japanese?” Ummm…. She shook off my ignorance and pointed me to one of each.
The Chinese version was across the street and looked like a complete dump. That normally wouldn’t have scared me off but the placard from the health department showed that they’ve achieved a “B” rating. I guess B-rated cleanliness isn’t all that bad, but I immediately thought of how us Asians have a different grading scale at school. I always tell my kids that they’re “Asians,” not “B-sians” and that a “B” is also known as “An Asian F.”
So it was Japanese-style for me –
I was encouraged by all the accolades it received, but was thrown off by the Brazilian-sounding name. But what confounded me even more was that there was only ONE Asian in the whole place – and that was ME. The host, waitresses, cook staff – were all a bunch of non-Asian hipsters. I thought that it took some major balls for a bunch of Brooklyn hipsters to open up a Ramen shop on Mott Street in CHINATOWN.
It turns out that the original Bassanova is a famed ramen shop in Tokyo, where they’re famous for their innovative and exciting ramens. Their signature dish is their Thai-inspired Green Curry ramen. Soooo, I’m having Thai/Japanese ramen in Chinatown in America. It’s best to just not think about it and order it.
It has Berkshire pork, green curry soup, mixed greens, shrimp, okra, and red pepper. I had to do takeout and was worried that it would lose something in the 15 minutes I had to wait to eat it. But luckily, they separated the dish into three different bowls (Sorry, didn’t take a picture of the broth.)
Having the components separate like that preserved all the distinct flavors and textures. When I finally mixed them all together, it was a thing of beauty. The noodles were perfectly firm and stood up to the rich coconut broth. It was surprising that, despite all the ingredients and flavors, it still had a homey, comfort food feeling to it.
It surely was a world away from other ramens I’ve had.