The food culture influences of Eastern Asia are incredible. I mean, it's so amazing that it has me fantasizing about ramen noodles at 1 AM. This is true, the thought of ramen noodles and steamed pork buns kept me from getting a good nights sleep last night. And instead of going to bed at a reasonable hour, I was researching Rhode Islands frequently talked about noodle bar, Boru. I figured, since I had the day off from my internship as a chef, I should take myself on a date to devour a meal that was long overdue. I had a carb filled, glorious afternoon, as I was poised on the wooden bar stool, chopsticks in hand, adjacent to my ramen and pork belly buns. Do I have regrets? No way! The meal put me at ease, and got me thinking deeply about Asian ingredients and techniques. I took some pictures while I sat alone; the owner must of thought something odd of me, but what he didn't know was that two hours in the latter, I would be writing a rather optimistic review about his food.
Technically I started with dessert first, and to me that is quite alright. I had tai iced tea, which is not like your usual Saturday afternoon run to Starbucks. Tai iced tea is a traditionally a combination of the ceylon tea leaf, but a more inexpensive type called bai miang is often used, and mixed with food coloring to create its vibrant orange color. It is then mixed with ice, condensed milk and sugar, and finished with splash of evaporated milk. In Thailand however, the tea, condensed milk, and sugar are combined before the addition of ice; and finally finished off with evaporated milk. The Tai people were not joking around when they invented this sweet delicacy. And Boru chefs, played with the ingredients just as I imagined from prior experiences.
Two was all I got. I wished and hoped for more! These steamed pork belly buns are renowned in our country; an insane treat that people drool over. Every ingredient plays a vital role in this dish, every single ingredient. Mantou or steamed bun, originated in northern China, making this dish a spin off of one of China's immaculate yeast dough's. Chinese chefs make make and stuff the buns a little differently than those above. Hoisin sauce which is a popular Asian condiment, is the background note in this musical of flavors. The rest of the ingredients make the dish more Americanized. I am not saying there is anything wrong with that! Pork, found in most of Eastern Asia's cuisine, is truly the star in these buns. Eating braised pork belly makes you feel victorious; cooks prize for its amazing aesthetic. Boru chefs add the radish and pickle for color, and to offset the rich flavor of the sauce and pork, creating an unimaginable tone in the whole dish.
The star of my lunch hour, came out after the tea was half gone, and the pork buns were devoured, and fingers licked clean. The bowl was massive, and I appreciate a chef who prepares good food in larger than average portions; it gives me a lot to look forward too. So, ramen noodles are a Japanese tradition, prepared many different ways, and in their own way at all different Asian inspired restaurants. Boru made me very happy, giving me the option to eat beef short ribs with my ramen. I could not possibly pass up this opportunity, fifteen dollars later. But like I said before, no regrets! Ramen noodles are a Chinese wheat noodle that the Japanese adapted and used in different variations of soup. Many times ramen noodles are seen in a pork or chicken based broth with pork, beef, boiled egg, mushrooms, scallions, menma (dried bamboo shoots), and nori (seaweed). The noodle bowl is so diverse that there are endless variations to choose from, all over the country. An interesting aspect of Boru's take on the dish, was its boiled egg. It tasted like the flavors of Asia had been saturated inside the egg; with a gooey and tacky texture. Every bite of this ramen, full filled my hankering for a bowl of soup.