Good afternoon my friends, I hope you are all having a great Tuesday in warm and “springy” Stockholm, haha.
What have you guys been eating lately?Discovered any new hotspot?
Please keep me in the loop.
I myself have been working hard -surprise surprise- and eating more than usual. It was one of these particular mornings when you wake up feeling a bit homesick, but not particularly for typical Peruvian food.
This morning I was craving a savory, deep, rich and addictive Asian-style soup. You see, in Peru we have 2 major Asian cultures influences: Chinese and Japanese. There are several restaurants with authentic both Chinese and Japanese families running them from generation to generation. It is, in fact, a priceless experience. And the flavors…
You have literally no idea.
Since I don’t know any great Chinese Restaurant here in our beloved city, I played it safe and decided to take a trip to Japan, right in Södermalm. Ai Ramen is doing their best to deliver a true and original Japanese experience, with chefs that have a lot of experience working with Japanese food. The result for me is very admirable and satisfying. Deep and rich broth, homemade noodles and as-Japanese-as-it-gets-in-Stockholm flavors on the different ingredients in their soups constitute dishes that I want to be eating every week and that I know I am not going to get bored of.
I was literally slurping the noodles because of how good they were. And besides, ask any Japanese person and they will tell you that this is how you eat a Ramen soup. So I am proud to inform the couple sitting next to me that “No I am not ashamed of slurping my noodles”. I mean, when in Rome…
The restaurant offers 2 menus. A reduced menu for weekdays lunch -11 to 14 hours- and a dinner menu -17 to 21 on Mondays to Thursdays and Sundays; and to 22 hours on Fridays and Saturdays.
The lunch menu is small yet precise and gives you a great introduction to the concept of the restaurant. 3 Ramen options: Kimchee (95 sek, hen broth, beef brisket and egg), Tonkotsu (115 sek, pork broth, pork belly, scorched garlic, picked silver onion and egg) and Yasai (115 sek, onion and ginger broth, ecologic tofu, sesame and miso-roasted eggplant).
They also have a Donburi -Japanese for bowl of rice- for 115 sek with fried tofu, pickles, mayo and egg.
You can also choose extras such as egg (20 sek), Pork (45 sek), noodles (35 sek) and Kimchee (20 sek).
Japanese Beer Asahi is served along with wine by the glass, Prosecco a refreshing and delicious ginger beer and your typical sodas.
On this opportunity I went by myself, and even though I would have loved to order the entire food menu, I had to limit myself to one Ramen, upon entering the restaurant and seeing the sizes of the soup bowls. Massively decent, if you will.
I chose the Tonkotsu, given my lifelong devotion to the magical and exquisite flavor of pork. As a chef and ultimate foodie, I strongly believe that pork is one of those ingredients that only need salt to reach culinary heights. This, of course, is given to the greatness of the product itself and its generous and copious amounts of fat. With pork, anywhere and everywhere you are guaranteed for great flavors. And the chefs at Ai Ramen surely know how to cook a spot on broth. Sometimes it’s hard to put into words what your taste buds experience. I mean, what words do we have other than yummy and delicious? I am going to have to invent new words, meant to culinary description purposes. I was devouring it, along with my noodle-slurping and the recurrent “mmmmm” sound -so characteristic in us that appreciate food on a whole other level.
Now that I write this review I start to realize why I liked it so much. It contains ingredients that are the base of culinary masterpieces. Pork, garlic, onions and, on a deep personal level, egg. If you didn’t know this, garlic and onion are ingredients packed with Umami -the so-called 5th flavor, besides sweet, salty, sour and bitter. What is Umami? you may ask. Well, it is the flavor that is not one of those 4. It is the best of the flavors, the one that makes your mouth water instantaneously. In Japanese it roughly translates to “good flavor” or “good taste”.
I don’t want to get too into this, but think of those times you ate something so delicious that you couldn’t just figure out what ingredient it was. Well that’s it -not an ingredient-, that’s the flavor and it is present in many ingredients such as onions, garlic, mushrooms, meats and a few others.
Anyway, back to Ai Ramen and their delicious broths. No need to say but I believe all of their dishes are as delicious as this one. Why? Simple, they use umami-packed ingredients and they have great chefs. That adds up to a wonderful combo, one that is guaranteed to satisfy and to provide a genuine Japanese experience in Sweden.
Visit them and find out for yourselves. For dinner they have a bigger menu -yet also precise- featuring small dishes such as steak tartar and pimientos de padrón; and 2 more different soups. More variety of wines, beers, sake and desserts.
What an interesting concept! Why am I not there right now and why have I not come back yet ever since…
Thank you very much to all the staff at Ai Ramen for a soup to remember and that definitely brought me back home through the magic of food.
Those, my friends, are the best flavors and memories…
You all have a great night!