I realized that the hardest thing in working on a blog is starting it. I have been plotting, and meditating on this blog for almost three months now without publishing a single entry. I realize that the best thing I can do for myself is to publish something no matter how short it falls of what I actually want it to be, because hopefully once I get going, and I have some traction to my blog writing process, I will gain confidence that this blog will become more of what I actually want it to be. My initial entry was going to be about why I chose the name of the blog, and also where the inspiration for where my blog came from, but instead of doing that I would rather write about what I explored today, and my intention behind my exploration. Also in the spirit of just getting this thing going there will be no pictures. These will begin to happen as things go on.
My adventure today did not take me too far outside my comfort zone. I was simply meeting up with a friend to hangout, though this friend has told me that every time we do hangout he ends up talking about the places we go to with others for the weeks following. I had been wanting to go to this ramen restaurant called The Slurping Turtle in the River North neighborhood. It’s a well known restaurant amongst ramen aficionados in Chicago , and it’s over six years old which in Chicago ramen years, particularly amongst city restaurants, appears to be on the older side.
My friend who has never tried karaage (Japanese fried chicken-also known as the world’s best fried chicken), and ramen that was nothing more than instant, The Slurping Turtle totally owned at both. Their version of karaage is fried in duck fat served with a soy-sesame sauce, and a dipping sauce that was akin to a Sriracha mayo but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what they did to make it.
I told my friend to get the hakata tonkotsu ramen since this was the closest thing on the menu to my favorite kind of ramen. The ingredients listed on the menu were pork belly, bean sprouts, bok choy, woodear mushrooms, pickled ginger, and scallions. The waitress said this was their most popular ramen. I went for the tan tan men ramen with listed ingredients being pork belly, meatballs (an odd but delicious choice), miso pork, bean sprouts, bok choy, scallions, chili flakes, and sesame seeds.
In other words, the food was awesome. I will briefly mention that I did split two sake flights between my friend and I. I did not pay great attention to every single sake that I had, and there was nothing memorable enough for me to make me want to go and out and buy a bottle of anything. I will say it was nice trying different sakes side by side, and I was reminded that sake can reflect a large flavor profile. I am reminded here that I need to pay attention to what sake I’m drinking, and I will probably get an individual order in the future to focus more on each new sake I am trying.
To end the night we walked twenty-five minutes to the Drake Hotel to drink at according to one list, the fifth oldest bar in Chicago, the Coq D’Or. A sign outside of it reads ” When Prohibition ended, the Coq D’Or served the 2nd drink in Chicago at 8:30 pm on Wednesday, December 6, 1933.” Inside, I was strangely reminded of a Japanese whiskey bar I went to in Tokyo called Nemo. It probably didn’t hurt that I just ate ramen. What was missing from the place, however was older Japanese businessmen, and it being quiet. Saying this, I was delighted to sit in a hotel bar at 10:00 in Chicago on a Wednesday and it actually being a lively crowded room. I had an older couple sitting next to me who somehow managed to drop what they said was their credit card into my backpack. When they asked, I managed to pull their room key from my backpack, and handed it to them. I think the drinking was getting to them, and they were not quite sure what they had dropped. This was my night, and I am happy to share it.