#1 lesson learned from the Ramen Marathon: NO ONE agrees on what makes a good bowl of ramen. This must be true about all food, but I thought there would be little more of a consensus? My cousin, a Tokyo native and ramen aficionado, told me that ramen has to meet three standards to be considered good quality:
1. The noodles must be firm.
2. The soup must be hot.
3. The soup must be strongly flavored.
I stand by his teachings while adding one more requirement:
4. The egg must be soft-cooked and marinated well.
Plus, I have other personal preferences: I like the yellow wavy noodles over the white straight kind, and as an assari ramen person, I’m generally not a tonkotsu fan. But I found, to my surprise, that plenty of my fellow marathoners wouldn’t agree with me on any of the above points. For example, Jenne and I were happy about al dente noodles, while other reviewers deemed them too crunchy.
Next goal (which we may or may not get to): We hope to create a flowchart to help San Diegans choose a restaurant based on their preferred ramen flavor profile!
It’s not fair, you might say, that each restaurant was reviewed by a different number of eaters, according to who was available that day. For those who might object to this uneven methodology, we present to you: The Ramen Core Results & Rankings! The Ramen Core is our group of reviewers who tried all 10 restaurants during our June Marathon. There are four of us: Jayzee, Jenne, Laura, and me. (I now think of us as the Ramen Core Four.)