Editor’s Note: When we hunger for clever twists on the classics we grew up with, we take to these savvy restaurants, where everything old is newfangled again. Say hello to the Best New Comfort Foods.
Nothing revives one’s inner child—or inspires displays of kidlike behavior—more than a brothy bowl of noodles. We’re not talking a plate of al dente pasta here, but rather the pillow-soft strands of dough in your mother’s chicken soup that warmed you on the coldest winter day, or the golden, egg-rich noodles under a steaming serving of pot roast. Noodles are an ancient, essential food, found in archeological digs dating back nearly 4,000 years. But they have evolved as our tastes have changed, taking on every imaginable sauce or garnish. Leave it to Rook chef and business partner Carlos Salazar, who worked as sous chef under Steven Oakley at the playfully innovative Oakleys Bistro, to concoct a beguiling bowl of ramen in an aromatic miso-enriched pork broth laden with anything from a marinated soft-boiled egg to homemade kimchi pickles. Digging into this trumped-up street-food riff can be a challenge, so here are a few of our favorite approaches.
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The Duck and Slurp
If you want to avoid staining your shirt, hunch low above your bowl to create the shortest distance between your chopsticks and your mouth for transporting the noodles. Tip the bowl up and take a sip of broth. Feel free to smack your lips.
The Lovin’ Spoonful
Using the flat-bottomed spoon as a base, twirl a small amount of noodles into the spoon; top with a hunk of egg or some shreds of bok choy. Dip the spoon into the bowl to draw up a bit of broth, which will get all the savory and tangy flavors in one bite.
The High and Dry
For flair and drama, hoist a mouthful of noodles high above the bowl with a pair of chopsticks and let the broth drain off. Follow up with a quick spoonful of the salty, slightly spicy liquid, making sure to work in a pickle or a few bean sprouts for crunch.
The Knife and Fork
Not a pro with chopsticks? Don’t let Eastern dining methods keep you from your dinner. Using your knife and fork, cut the noodles into bite-size strips and toss the whole bowl to mix the ingredients. Let the spoon do the rest of the work.
This article appeared in the January 2014 issue.