Vegan Ramen at Home

#vegan ramen for dinner. Homemade bc it's so hard to get vegan ramen anywhere.

It’s difficult to find good vegan ramen in LA.  It’s easy to find vegetarian ramen, but usually since the noodles have egg in them, it’s hard to find vegan one. There’s Shojin, which has vegan ramen, but it’s expensive for what it is and not that delicious given the price.

Because of this, I made vegan ramen the other night. I received a lot of requests for a recipe after posting a picture of it.  As you know, I’m not so good about measuring things or writing down recipes, but here’s some hand-wavey instructions.  The tofu-like thing was store-bought. I’m not sure if there’s an equivalent in American super markets, but it’s called tofu bao in Chinese super markets and it’s basically tofu skin folded into layers and then deep fried so that the outer layer is nice and crispy.  You can sub in fried tofu, baked tofu, or inari.

Broth:

  1. Cut the whites of 3-4 scallions into 2 inch pieces.
  2. Cut the stems off 6-7 fresh shiitake mushrooms. (save caps for later)
  3. Cut up a daikon radish into 1 inch rounds.
  4. Heat up a soup pot with a few glugs of neutral oil. I used canola. When the oil is hot, throw in the scallion whites and shiitake mushrooms and sautee until both are browned.
  5. Add in the daikon radish, 5 cups of water, a pieces of kombu, and bring to a boil.
  6. As soon as the water is boiled, take out the kombu (save for later), cover, lower to a simmer, and boil for 30 minutes or however long it takes you to get the other ingredients ready.
  7. When the broth is ready to be ladled over the noodle, it’s time to season. Turn off the heat.
  8. Add in 1 tablespoon white miso paste (dilute this in a few tablespoons of hot water to make it easy to stir)
  9. A few glugs of high quality soy sauce
  10. A glug of mirin
  11. Salt to taste

Soy glazed shiitake mushrooms:

  1. Slice the saved caps of the mushrooms into thin, quarter-inch slices.
  2. Heat a glug of oil in a pan and when the oil is hot, throw in the mushrooms.
  3. Leave the mushrooms on the pan until browned on one side, and then toss to the other side. You want to get these mushrooms pretty dry and brown. It takes about 10 minutes.
  4. While the mushrooms are cooking, mix 1 teaspoons soy sauce and 1/2 teaspoon mirin.
  5. When the mushrooms are done, turn off the heat but leave the mushrooms in the hot pan. Push them together into a heap and slowly drizzle the soy sauce mirin mixture on, stirring slightly to evenly distribute.
  6. Set aside for noodle topping

Kombu strip topping:

  1. Take the saved kombu and slice it into thin strips.
  2. Toss with a dash of soy sauce, a glug of toasted sesame oil, and a dash of rice vinegar.
  3. Set aside for noodle topping

To assemble:

  1. Cook the noodle in boiling water according to package instructions.
  2. Drain the noodles and put in a large noodle bowl.
  3. Add in the fried tofu skin
  4. Ladle the broth over the fried tofu skin to warm it
  5. Top with the shiitake mushrooms, kombu strips, and sliced scallion greens

 

Honey Badger Restaurant

honey_badger1
When I was walking back from lunch on Saturday, another storefront caught my eye.  The exposed Edison bulb chandeliers and dark wood surfaces made me think this was going to be a hip coffee place on the rejuvenated Main street in Alhambra, but it was actually Honey Badger — yes, the same Honey Badger as the popular coffee, tea, and study spot just a few blocks down on the same street.

Honey Badger Restaurant, unlike Honey Badger Cafe, has more of a focus on food. Their specialty is their house-made noodles, and you know how much I like noodles. So much that I returned to the same area for dinner just so I could try out the restaurant, even though it was in their soft-opening* phase.

From the limited menu, Will and I ordered the Honey Badger wings, roulette peppers, garlic noodles, and eggplant noodles.

honey_badger3
The roulette peppers are fried shishito peppers tossed with a savory, slightly tangy sauce. None of the ones I had were all that spicy.

honey_badger5
The Honey Badger wings was my favorite dish of the night. The sauce was garlicky, salty, with a slight tang that made it hard to resist licking my fingers after the wings were done.

honey_badger7
The man who took our ordered recommended the garlic noodles only if we were garlic lovers, and boy, was right about that. The bouncy, chewy noodles were doused in a lot of garlic.  So much so that it was almost too garlicky for me, and I do love a bit of garlic.

honey_badger8
The eggplant noodles were a little more muted in comparison. I liked the slightly sweet taste of the eggplant noodles. While the noodles were of a great texture, even slightly stretchy, the slight sauce on the noodles made them a bit too sticky for me.

honey_badger4
To drink with our meal, Will ordered an iced chrysanthemum herbal tea, light on the sugar.  It was shaken with crushed ice and was a wonderful refreshing drink to have with the meal.  I went with the classic almond milk tea (also light on sugar) and it definitely hit the spot.  If the mug looks large in the picture, it’s because it is very large.

It’s nice to have a new, different spot to dine at in the neighborhood and I’m curious to see what their more established menu will bring.

Honey Badger Restaurant
555 W Main St
Alhambra, CA 91801
(free parking in a lot right next to the restaurant)

 

* Here’s my gripe about soft openings:  I understand that they’re useful for restaurants that want to try out their menu and staff, or still have a few kinks to iron out, but if that were the case, then the restaurant shouldn’t be charging full price.   If you want diners to help you test out your restaurant, then give them a discount, or make it free.  If that’s not financially feasible, then open it to only friends and family at a discount.  It seems like restaurants use the ‘soft opening’ term so that people are less critical about their dishes. I think it’s only fair that if a restaurant is charging full price, then it should be critiqued under the same standards as fully-opened restaurants.  It’s not a criticism of Honey Badger specifically — just restaurants who hide under the ‘soft opening’ term.

Modan Artisanal Ramen

Are you sick of the word ‘artisanal’ yet? Because I am. I should have known Modan Artisanal Ramen was going to be disappointing.

An average bowl of ramen at an above average price. But I did get to sit next to one of my fav chefs who was also eating there, so worth it! #modanartisinalramen

I was excited when I read about a ramen shop opening in South Pasadena, which is just a stone’s throw away from me. We already have Benten ramen, which works in a pinch if you don’t want to drive all the way to Sawtelle for Tsujita, but it’s always good to have other choices in the neighborhood. What really got me excited was that their menu said the veggie ramen was vegan!

Alas, it was not so.

When Will and I got to the restaurant a few nights later for dinner, the menu had the word ‘vegan’ crossed out. The noodles have egg in them, so the veggie ramen was just vegetarian, not vegan. For what it’s worth, the broth was decent and the agedashi tofu was a nice addition.

I was put off by the addition of truffle oil in Modan’s signature bowl of ramen, and I wasn’t in the mood for spicy, so I just went with the shoyu ramen. Apparently, I chose poorly. The broth was okay, but lacked a certain something that made it a good ramen broth. Whether it was richness or depth, the shoyu broth just didn’t taste like ramen broth. Maybe I should have just gone with the tonkatsu broth of the signature bowl, but if they’re not going to make a good shoyu ramen, why have it on the menu at all?

The noodles were nothing to write home about either, which just makes me angry. If noodles aren’t going to be vegan, then they’d better be good enough to warrant that!

The chashu also was a surprise to me. Instead of the slices of buttery soft pork I expected, I had two large slices of dry, slightly tough, grilled pork. It wasn’t tough enough that I didn’t give Robin some pieces, and I guess it was in her interest that the pork wasn’t more delicious because I would have eaten more of it myself.

Overall, Modan wasn’t good enough for me to go out of my way to return to, especially when Benten is slightly better tasting and a better value. I don’t mind paying more for ramen that’s exceptional, but in this case, it wasn’t.

Modan Artisanal Ramen
700 Fair Oaks Ave
Ste G
South Pasadena, CA 91030