New York City had turned unseasonably cold overnight. The Northeast’s notoriously cold air blew through the city’s buildings, making me wish I’d packed a warmer coat, just days after I’d wandered Montauk in short sleeves and walked to the opera without a jacket. Now I was bundled in a scarf and shivering.
I’d changed hotels three nights in a row and didn’t sleep the previous night. I was in dire need of comfort food–something familiar, something soothing, something warm. The answer was obvious: I needed ramen.
Luckily Terakawa Ramen was only a short walk away, just far enough to freeze my face and fingers. I arrived at the tiny restaurant before the lunch crowd and picked a barside seat in the corner. I ordered a bottle of sake and a bowl of the house specialty, Terakawa Ramen ($9) and tried to unthaw.
Terakawa serves seven kinds of ramen: the tonkotsu (pork bone) house specialty, shoyu (soy sauce flavor in chicken broth, $9), miso ($9), tan tan (spicy with grounded pork, $10), mayu (burned leek in garlic oil, $10), kyushu danji ($14) and a vegetable ramen (paprika, red peppers, broccoli, beets and cauliflower in soy milk, $12).
Extra toppings are available, like a half boiled egg ($1.50), more noodles ($1.50), mushrooms ($1), two pieces of pork ($2) or bamboo shoots ($1). Even passion is listed as a topping, but apparently that’s priceless. (I always thought the price of passion was a fortune!)
My bowl of noodles arrived scalding hot, instantly warming me up. It was topped with the usual slices of roasted pork, strips of crunchy bamboo shoots and gooey boiled egg. It also had a some not-so-usual toppings: a pile of scallions, a mound of black kikurage mushrooms and little strips of red ginger. The noodles were a little hard for my taste, but I liked the variety of toppings.
I don’t know what it is about ramen that is so comforting, but slurping the fatty broth just does it for me. Maybe the flavor transports me back to Japan, maybe it channels my love of pork, maybe it’s just so delicious it puts me in an instant food coma that distracts me from any sort of bad day I might be having. Maybe it’s all of the above.
But it works. And while Terakawa Ramen wasn’t the best bowl of Japanese noodles I’ve ever had in New York City, it certainly did the trick to warm me up and make my day a little bit better.