January 8, 2014
Ice in the river. So cold your face freezes after the first block. Perfect day for ramen: there's nothing so warming as a big bold bowl of righteous noodles.
What made me order the raw octopus and wasabi appetizer? Curiosity mostly. It hardly seems to belong on the Ippudo menu, which rounds out the noodle offerings with a few dishes that approach fast food. Sticky chicken wings fried to a crisp. Buns filled with sweet fried chicken patties slicked with chilied mayonnaise. And a delicious – but almost laughably expensive cucumber. One sliced cucumber, regally presented on its own long dish: $8. What's the restaurant's profit on that little item?
So when I saw the raw octopus in wasabi sauce for $5, it seemed like such an anomoly I ordered it. Strictly for science. I was not expecting this textural delight. The raw octopus was as tender as velvet. It was soft, chewy and slightly tacky in the mouth. It demanded your attention. Right behind it came the crunch of celery and the insistent heat of wasabi. A single slice of lemon was hiding at the bottom of the bowl, radiating flavor so that the taste of the octopus changed as you worked your way down. A single teasing leaf of shiso on the side. The dish was so intriguing that when it was gone I ordered another.
In the end I have to say that the noodles, good as they were, were kind of beside the point.
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