After a long skyping session, my lovely girlfriend said that it being Friday night in Melbourne, she would have to regrettably sign off to partake in the usual Friday night Sabbath meal with her family - the Chicken Soup was on the table. She asked whether I would be having Chicken Soup for dinner in Tokyo. I looked at the meagre options in my pantry and the closest thing was a packet of instant Miso soup. Not good enough. So I put on my thermals, a few more layers of clothing and left in search of Chicken Soup on a blisteringly cold, dark, snowing Friday evening in Tokyo.
Armed with a recommended address on an email, I took the metro from Akasaka station on the Chiyoda line, switched to the Hibya line at Hibya station and got off at Ebisu. In Tokyo it is notoriously difficult to find any particular place. Best practice is to print off a google maps search and take it with you. With the snow pelting into my glasses, I trudged along the streets in search of the place. No luck. I felt the beginning of frostbite in the tips of my fingers as I back-tracked, circled, crossed streets to no avail. I was moments away from packing it in, when I saw the light of a restaurant across the road - I had found it!
After taking off about 8 layers of clothing, and with some strange looks from the waitress, I sat down in the warmth of Ippudo and smiled contently at having braved the torrential conditions and for having not turned back. Ippudo was recommended to me as serving great Ramen - Ramen is a Japanese noodle dish served in a broth. The Jews have Chicken Soup, the Japanese have Ramen.
A big hearty bowl is placed before me. I always remember my grandmother heaping salt into her Chicken Soup before she even tasted it. No need here - the broth is salty, meaty and full of flavour. The semi-hard boiled egg, tender pork, spring onion and noodles combine with the broth perfectly. The only thing missing on a Friday night is Kreplach (dumplings filled with meat and added to Chicken Soup). With my extensive knowledge of Japanese cuisine, I thought the closest thing to Kreplach was Gyoza and quickly ordered a serve. I was tempted to drop them into my Ramen but thought it best not to draw any more unnecessary attention to myself and quickly devoured them.
So the Jews and the Japanese appear to have more in common than we think. Ramen just might be the Japanese penicillin. Now to track down some Challah and I'm set!