Sapporo Ichiban, Sun Noodle, Ichiran: My Life in 3 Packaged Ramens
What’s in a bowl of noodles? More than meets the eye, according to this semi-fictitious report by a ramen psychic who visits HONOLULU Magazine’s creative director.
Where’d it all go wrong? How did I find myself in this predicament? Living on my own in a studio apartment, solo again for the first time in years. I needed answers. I just never thought those answers would come from a ramen psychic. You may think I’m crazy, that there’s no such thing, but if psychics can read tea leaves, crystal balls, palms, tarot cards, stars and the coffee grounds in your morning cup, then they can read ramen—instant ramen, to be precise.
I was working at home and decided to break for lunch. My refrigerator was empty save for condiments, a few eggs and a vegan quiche I was not in the mood for. In the pantry was a packet of Sapporo Ichiban instant tonkotsu ramen; in the cupboard a single melamine bowl. My green onion plant outside offered a lone vibrant stalk. So I clipped it.
I chopped the stalk, boiled water in two pots, lowered an egg into one and the dehydrated noodles in the other. The bowl I filled with water and ice cubes. After three minutes I placed the egg into the ice bath and stirred the powdered ramen soup packet into the noodles. After another minute I peeled the egg and sliced it in half, revealing a bright pop of orange, silken yolk. I poured the ice out of my bowl, transferred into it noodles and broth and carefully spooned the soft egg on top, sprinkling it with green onion. I took my bowl back to the table and that’s when I saw him. “Hi there,” said the psychic sitting at my table. “I’m your personal ramen reader.”
Sapporo Ichiban, $.99 to $1.09
Sun Noodle Tonkotsu Ramen, $4.99 for a two-pack
Ichiran Tonkotsu Ramen, $30 for a three-pack
My last packet of ramen bears the name of my greatest ramen experience. Ichiran Ramen is a famous Japanese chain where ramen is the sole focus, meant to be enjoyed quickly and alone. I remember it well—the ticket vending machine where you place your order, ramen counters partitioned for solo dining, curtained serving windows from which anonymous hands place a steaming bowl in front of you. The ramen is delicious, the experience myopic. No conversation, no companions. Just you and a bowl.