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Restaurant Tue Apr 15 2008
Just the other day the top quarter of my mouth was utterly violated by an evil minion. Actually, my dentist is rather cute and very capable, but dental work is never a positive experience, especially when the first of four sessions in a month’s time hurt as bad as that one did.
The whole hour and a half that my mouth was pried open and I watched the descent of various tiny metal torture devices into my “open wide” mouth, I distracted myself with the view from the window. Across the street was Tam Popo Japanese Restaurant. I soothed myself with fantasies that some wildly talented quirky Japanese woman was spinning out the bowls of noodles to inspire a great film.
After all was done, I went running across the street with one very non-responsive novacaine heavy lip to get my bowl of ramen. Warm and steamy comfort for my shockingly pained mouth.
I was greeted by a very sweet woman who continued to be the picture of gracious service throughout my solo lunch. I got Goma Ae to start, which is a perennial favorite of mine. I was delighted to see that tenderly sweet spinach dish was made with a black sesame sauce. I love the toastier flavor of black sesame seeds. However, I have to admit that I was concerned for the fate of my soup when I received the little banchan dishes, these are the side dishes more commonly served with Korean meals. Would the broth be the delicate dashi base I was dreaming of?
Sadly, it wasn’t. It was a nice steamy bowl of well cooked ramen noodles, with a pedestrian fish cake and a bit too much white pepper than I care for, but it was passable and somewhat satisfying. It wasn’t transcendental, but it was good.
It is yet another pleasant disappointment in my search for good authentic Japanese comfort food. But don’t let the lack of authenticity deter you, the soup was very warming and satisfying, it just wasn’t the Tampopo of my dreams.