Friday, January 02, 2009

Highlight #123: Kuro ramen - Restaurant: Maru Ichi (Cali)

On the way down to Monterey from San Fran, we stopped near San Jose to have dinner with some friends. Lucky for us, right in the same complex as the Ranch 99 where we all met up is Maru Ichi, a ramen shop that pulls their own ramen and serves a pretty unique version of broth.

Of course I had to try the specialty of the house, the kuro (black) ramen. According to the menu, the deep color of the broth comes from a liberal use of browned garlic. It's still puzzling to me how browned garlic can impart such blackness without some coloring, but none of that mattered when I had a sip of the broth. Deep and dark, the intensely savory broth warmed all the way down to the stomach and left behind a hint of sweetness from caramelized garlic. If you love roasted garlic thickly spread on bread, this is the ramen for you.

The housemade ramen noodle held its integrity better than the store version, which tends to turn a bit mushy after some soaking. The pork belly slices were gently cooked and thinly sliced to show off the pearly fat. My favorite was the half egg, one of the things I judge a ramen shop by. This one was properly prepared to preserve a slightly liquidy center like that of a cherry-centered chocolate if you know what I mean. Boiled eggs can be so lovely without the grey ring that often appear when overcooked.

Apparently this Milpitas spot also has a sister place in Mountain View, where the ramen pulling can actually be seen behind a window. Since I come to these parts for work pretty often, maybe I'll check it out the next time.

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