Ramen Nagi – 541 Bryan Street, Palo Alto, California, US
I have always been a Chinese and Japanese food fanatic but never have I thought to try ramen. Around 3-4 years ago, Ramen Nagi came to the US and set up their first location in the heart of Palo Alto. At first, my mindset towards ramen was indifferent. I wanted to try it but why wait for an hour-and-a-half for a bowl of soup with noodles. In my mind, I felt like I could have replicated that experience with Maggi Noodles. Then came PG&E. As many of you Californians know, under high winds and dry temperatures, PG&E shuts down power lines, which means no school (Yay)! Because there was no school, my mom and I decided to see what all the hype was about. And guess what, it lived up to its hype and so, SO much more.
When we reached after a short 5-minute drive, we were shocked to see a line that was estimated to be only a 30-minute wait. So we waited and when we got in, the smell of pork immediately hit us. My mom, being a vegetarian and all did not find it pleasant but for me, it was like heaven. When we finally sat down, we were served edamame which we had marked down in our order. The edamame itself was high quality and simple with lots of pepper and salt. Nothing shocking but good in its own right. Next came all the yumminess. The ramen finally arrived and the warmth emanating from the bowl was enough to get me excited.
Ramen Nagi is a traditional ramen place so they serve a rich tonkatsu broth as their base. Tonkotsu is a traditional Japanese broth with a rich texture that comes from boiling the pork bones for 8-10 hours which extracts the flavor from the bone. Because of this process, the broth is rich and creamy but still has a meaty flavor in likeness to fatty pork. On top of this, Ramen Nagi takes the fat from the pork and uses that in the broth. If you look closely, there are little morsels of fat throughout the soup that explode with flavor in your mouth. Besides, the broth was the noodles and the actual pork. In my eyes, the noodles are very underrated. When people think of ramen, they think of pork and broth but instead of conforming to preconceived notions about ramen, Ramen Nagi went above and beyond and delivered with a firm, thick noodles, cooked beautifully and salted to perfection. Finally was the pork. There’s not much I can say except OH MY GOSH IT WAS GOOD. Everything about it was good. It had a touch of sweetness, probably with a marinade that probably includes orange to add acidity and sweetness and because I ordered pork belly, it was extremely fattiness with a tiny bit of chewiness to balance everything out. And for a cherry on top, there were delicious fresh scallions to add a bite to the dish and the tiniest bit of crunch. Overall, I 100% recommend this, regardless of the travel or the wait.