i swung by suzu in SF's japantown today for the second time since it opened, several years ago. i wasn't very impressed on my first visit, but decided to give it an update. meh...
i ordered the mabo ramen, which came topped with a dollop of a type of mapo tofu. i didn't expect it to be traditional, coming from a japanese ramen joint, but i was considering making mapo tofu for dinner, and just wanted to have a taste ( i ended up making split pea soup, instead). the sauce seemed sharper than expected. it was flavored, i think, with sambal oelek rather than the usual chili-bean paste, or toubanjang, or however it's transliterated. the flavor was pointed, almost vinegary, and rather one dimensional. there was hardly any pork to be found. the broth itself, tasted before mixing, was okay. chicken and pork, not very greasy, a tad salty (not a bad thing), and when mixed with the mabo topping, was sort of interesting.
noodles didn't taste like ammonia, but an hour later, their taste memory wasn't very compelling, either. i don't feel i have the adequate experience and vocabulary to describe it. they were firm enough at first. the dish came with only the mabo tofu and pork (uh..ahem) and scallion topping.
the broth i didn't mind, and for a japanese prep of mapo tofu, it actually made my nose run just a little bit with spice...
but i can't imagine i would make a point to go back there.
sidenote: does anyone ever feel self-conscious about slurping their noodles around a bunch of polite, quiet westerners? ever caught the evil eye from someone who thinks you're being just foul, and wanted to spray their face with soup and tell them to watch the film tampopo, especially the etiquette class when the japanese woman is teaching her students not to make a single sound while eating pasta, while the white man in the corner is slurping his pasta down like it's the end of the world, and all the japanese girls start hoovering their linguine con vongole until even the teacher gives in?
another thread, i know. but....ah!
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