Amsterdam's first Japanese ramen shop has opened in Chinese supermarket Toko Dun Yong. Until December 18, the pop-up concept will serve bowls of noodles in a rich broth.
I spoke to Fow Pyng Hu, the man behind the concept, shortly after the opening. Hu came up with the idea for a ramen shop in Amsterdam during a stint in Japan. A film director by trade, he has no formal cooking qualifications and is using his two months at Toko Dun Yong to refine his recipe and gauge Amsterdammers’ interest in the concept. If it is positive, he plans to find a permanent location for his ramen shop, Le fou Fow, and to combine it with his filmmaking assignments.
The secret to good ramen is the broth, says Hu, which he makes himself from pig and chicken bones, shiitake mushrooms and seaweed. Once the broth is prepared, assembling the dish takes a matter of minutes: he adds noodles, pork and wilted Chinese greens, and garnishes it with spring onions, bean sprouts and a sliced boiled egg. A meat-free option is also available.
I visited the ramen shop shortly before closing, in the hope of catching an early dinner. Although Hu was out of eggs, apologising that he had had a rush at lunchtime and was still grappling with how much to prepare each day, he put the dish together without eggs and gave me a discount on the price.
The broth was powerful and deep, and the combination of warm, cooked noodles and fresh, crunchy garnish typified the simple refinement of Japanese cooking.
It’s impossible to eat ramen quietly. As I slurped up mouthfuls of noodles and looked at the grey drizzle out of the window, I wondered whether ramen wasn’t an even better antidote to Amsterdam's SAD-inducing winter months than the local comfort food, pea soup.
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