"It's just like making pasta," said Jason Hauck about his handmade ramen noodles. "The only thing that's different is the salt."
Hauck, the executive chef at Soma Sushi, may be nonchalant about his noodles. But he doesn't need to speak for them. His ramen noodles speak for themselves, as they did last night at Grand Prize Bar. Hauck put two of his own ramen dishes -- a foie gras ramen and a seafood ramen -- up against two from The Modular, the food truck run by Josh Martinez and Lyle Bento.
And as good as The Modular's momofuku-inspired chicken and pork belly ramen dishes were, it was Hauck's noodles that proved the most popular after the evening was said and done. On all sides of me at Grand Prize were happy patrons slurping down Hauck's noodles, attesting to this fact. The broths, too, were deeply flavored and multi-tonal; not one single note stood out from either, making each bite dazzlingly different.
The Modular men seemed to take this in stride. After all, as Bento pointed out with a laugh: "I just learned to make ramen today," despite growing up on a steady diet of the stuff in Hawaii. So had his partner in the kitchen, Brandon Fisch, keeping busy after leaving Yelapa Playa Mexicana by helping out The Modular guys from week to week.
Although it's unknown whether or not The Modular will make ramen again soon, you can still get Hauck's noodles right now at Soma.
Hauck is experimenting with a Hokkaido-style pork broth right now as well as the same seafood broth that he served last night at Grand Prize. And if you were one of the folks who felt that foie gras ramen topped with shaved Perigord truffles was over the top (hell, at $6 a bowl, that's not over the top -- that's a goddamned steal), perhaps Hauck's slower-paced Hokkaido ramen is for you.
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This is the ramen I ate on Sunday night for dinner...and again on Tuesday night. Yes, it's $13 a bowl, but it feeds two. The miso broth is filled with ample chunks of soft Berkshire pork, cilantro, green onions and shiitake mushrooms.
And although the soup isn't a completely faithful replication of Hokkaido-style ramen -- no sweet corn in here -- Hauck does finish off the bowl with the most important touch of all: a pat of butter from Way Back When Dairy that melts elegantly into the broth with just a stir.