Some like it hot:
Although it has many fans, and is often quite full, Orochon Ramen is my least favorite ramen place of the elite ramen restaurants in the Los Angeles County area. It does have one thing going for it, that the others do not, and that is a gimmick:
So if ones finishes their super spicy Special No. 2 within a half hour, the waitstaff will take a Polaroid picture of The Brave One with his or her (most likely his) empty bowl and posts it on the restaurant's front wall. I have never attempted to get on The Wall of Bravery but I have been there with people who have and it's quite entertaining.
On this past Friday the 13th my friend and co-worker Chris attempted to get on The Wall. I know he likes spicy food, really spicy, so I figured this was going to be easy for him. Was it? We'll find out. Here we are when the clock starts ticking:
Actually, Chris came up with an impromptu strategy: he dumped a big cup of ice into his soup to cool it off and to facilitate slurping the broth. Not only was the spice meter hot, hot, hot but the temperature was as well (this worked out in my favor - see below).
So while he's tackling his soup, let's talk about mine. I normally order the regular No. 2 (miso) which is three levels below the Special No. 2 and is called "Hyper." For some reason, I ordered the No. 7 which is the lowest of the nine spice levels and has the very unsexy name of "Non-Spicy." Hmmm. But this time I can taste the miso which I don't like very much - it was too salty and didn't have any vestiges of fement funk.
Let's check in on Chris:
Here, hear Bon Vivant got tongued tied and ask a really dumb question:
Now back to my soup. So I was dreaming about the spicy miso from Hakata Ramen and wishing that there were far more noodles in my soup (some skinny teenaged girl who won't eat carbs was probably cooking in the kitchen based on the amount of noodles we all received) when I remembered that I wanted to order some chashu for my soup (if you don't order it, $.99, then you get about a quarter sized slice of pork in your soup). So I decided to let my noodles soak up the broth and expand while I awaited my pork.
So I kept thinking about the succulent slices of pork from Santouka Ramen and then my slice of pork arrived: WTF! I felt like Christina Crawford in a chapter of "Mommy Dearest" - my pork was ice cold and the fat was congealed to the point of being as hard as a coconut. I quickly threw the piece into my blazing hot soup and burried it in my soaking noodles.
Like the ugly duckling that emerges as a beautiful graceful swan (this is so cheesy!), in two minutes my pork became meltingly delicious (note to self - next time order two slices of chashu):
I tried Chris' broth:
Did Chris make it onto The Wall of Bravery? Let's see:
I have to say that even though I initially had problems with my ramen, it turned out to be the best that I have ever had there.
123 Onizuka Street
Third Floor, Weller Court
Los Angeles, CA 90012www.orochonramen.com