My friend Jaytee sent out the call that we needed to hightail it over to Iza Ramen, a popup shop at Blowfish Sushi restaurant which serves tsukemen ramen only on the weekends from 11:30-3. Their bowls of ramen are filled with a rich triple-stock broth made from pork bone, chicken and fish and served with thick chewy noodles. The toppings are first rate, tender slices of slow-cooked BBQ pork belly, a soy-marinated 6-minute egg, bamboo shoots and homemade kimchi. We got there before they opened to make sure that we got our name on the list – note there was already a small crowd of people loitering around waiting.
The interior is lined with exuberant images of digital alchemy by artist Android Jones
We decided to try a couple of appetizers while we waited for the rest of our party to arrive. The Gyoza were deep fried and served with a fried okra that had been dipped into the barest wisp of batter. I prefer them cooked like potstickers, with a crispy panfried crust and tender steamed top…
We also had the juicy mind-blowingly delicious Kara-age, marinated organic chicken that is battered and fried and served with a savory anchovy aioli.
Each bowl of ramen came with a side salad, which had bits of seasoned and toasted seaweed scattered throughout, a delightful and flavorful touch that was very good with the light and savory yuzu dressing.
Mr. K had the Iza Special Triple Stock Ramen ($10), which he said was good, but not as good as my Tsukemen.
Tsukemen is a relatively unknown version of dipped ramen that is rapidly gaining popularity after chef David Chang talked about it on the first episode of Mind of a Chef. The freshly cooked noodles are served separately from the intensely savory and rich dipping broth, which is made deliberately thick so that it clings to the noodles when they are dipped in.
The boldly thick noodles are fresh and springy and topped with a bit of spice mix
The standard sides: a pile of thinly sliced green onion, sauteed bean sprouts, 2 sheets of toasted seaweed, a slice of fishcake (the little white flower shaped thing with the bright pink spiral) half of a seasoned boiled egg (note the gorgeously golden and gooey yolk) and some tender simmered seaweed.
The soup is thick and hearty, full of rich smoky flavors and addictive as all get out. There is also minced chicken which sinks to the bottom of the bowl, which you must not forget to scoop up.
a taste of heaven…
For an extra $1 we got a small plate of smokey sweet chili sauce, which added a nice mellow heat.
For dessert, we shared the Wasabi and the Goat Cheese Gelato ($3.5 each). Our favorite was the goat cheese gelato.
Their facebook page states that the popup is serving ramen through the end of 2013… no, please don’t tell me that’s true – that’s only a few more weeks?!!! Look at the crowds clamoring for Iza Ramen, the dining room was full and there were people standing in line outside when we left. I hope they continue serving their noodles forever!