The red lights were burning a harsh glow on the futurist artwork of a woman with a couple of egg-yolks in her hair, those 2-D eyes beckoning me to come and sit in her patio for a few minutes. Once inside the gate, I noticed a few kids in neon jackets parking their e-scooters, sadly, resembling some gentrified form of Neo-Tokyo.
It’s kinda worse, actually: it’s the Plaza District. My recent desperation for different soups and stews to sample around town has taken me to many places—some areas I usually avoid more than others, this popular district being one of them. Still, I’ve heard pretty good things about the noodle-heavy brews at Gorō Ramen, 1634 N. Blackwelder Ave., Suite #102, from people who I usually trust, such as my doctor and lawyer...
While the inside is loaded with many happy faces, all enjoying the distinct prime of their young lives—with my prime long evaporated into a pile of worthless dust—I chose to woefully sit outside in the crisp chill, surrounding myself with all the other dour fortysomethings that night. The small fire burned beside me like an eternal flame; the simple warmth was nice, but even nicer was the brilliantly simple menu the waitress brought out.
Taking my off my jacket and placing it in the usually empty chair beside me, I looked over at the table off to the side and noticed an older man with a violin case sitting next to him, silently snacking on a bun of some sort—the Tofu Nikuman ($7.00) I soon learned, nosily asking my server. Ordered along with a Mr. Brown’s Iced Coffee—the cartoon character on the front resembling a Southern plantation owner, I suppose—both were delivered expeditiously.
The steamed buns were very taut and held the perfectly fried tofu snugly, a serving of pickled cucumbers, fried shallots and negi painted delicately with the surprising light mushroom sauce, an entirely welcomed bonus. The Tofu Nikuman, like so much here, was very much a well-done work of edible art, but even more so, my gorgeous main course, the Tori Paitan Ramen ($11.00), caused a momentary case of digestible Stendhal when it arrived at the table.
Served in a large enough bowl to more than justify the price, the rich broth was a rice/chicken concoction that was effortlessly warm, with plenty of help from the fried garlic, menma, ajitama and, once again, negu. But the true winner in this ramen were the carefully sliced cuts of fatty pork belly, the piggy oils being the perfect foil for the broth mixture. Each sip was like the heaven the deceased pigs were surely frolicking in now.
Still needing a bit more spice, however, a simple small dish of their house-made garlic chili bomb really lowered the boom in my intestinal tract. The chili seeds and flakes, as well as plenty of bits of garlic, is well worth the half-dollar and, if you need a slight cocaine-like pick-me-up that’ll make your head fling back as you scream “Hot damn, baby girl!”, it’s well worth the mutually devastated adenoids.
And don’t forget the sliced soft-boiled egg, just floating around in the ramen, just waiting to be eaten first. Treat yourself and save it for last.
Perhaps the last eatery in the Plaza that is seemingly fighting against the rising tide of monochromatic businesses that have taken over the area, Gorō Ramen is the proverbial Tetsuo Shima that, with every bowl of ramen poured down our eager gullets, delivers a hearty big-bang worthy of a cult-like status. Cómpralo ya!