Noodles at Mitsuwa with Linda
Mitsuwa is a huge Japanese supermarket complex in Edgewater, NJ, not to far from where I grew up and where my parents still live. On visits back to Jerz, I try to get a trip to Mitsuwa into the itinerary. I'm not sure how long it's been there, but it's been there long enough that my brother worked there in either middle school or high school and has endured a name change (originally Yaohan). I'm goint to guess at least 15 years. It's rows and rows of brilliant packages tagged with adorable cartoon characters and Engrish, as well dozens upon dozens of items you had never previously realized you had a need for. Another key selling point of Mitsuwa is their awesome food court. It's undergone some changes recently, but the types of foods offered remain the same for the most part. The two main additions are the Italian Tomato counter and the Ito-En Tea island. The various ramen, katsu and red bean cake counters are still there though.
One of the best times to hit Mitsuwa (which, you can get to via shuttle bus from Port Authority) is when they are having a regional food festival, where they feature special foods and always have tons of samples. The last time I was there, okonomiyaki was celebrated. I don't think this was the Osaka kind, as it was a variation with noodles and an egg crepe I had never had before. I stood on line, I mean "in line" for nearly an hour to get my okonomiyaki (to go!) and it still tasted great back in Brooklyn. This past weekend, they were celebrating the Kyushu / Okinawa region. Linda (my mom, for those of you who are new), and I sampled seafood buns, salty fish roe and a variety of Japanese rice cakes. They were also pushing mackerel. At lunch, she was disappointed to find out her favorite type of ramen with scallops was nowhere to be found. So we both wound up getting Hidechan ramen from a special stand that was set up for the weekend. Hidechan ramen was unlike the other types of ramen I've previously tried. The thick broth (made from pork bones which have been simmering for a very long time) came as a big surprise and reminded me a lot of the broth in the Korean dish gom tang (ox tail soup). It almost felt too heavy at first because I was expecting a lighter broth. This broth almost felt three-dimensional, if that makes any sense. And like gom tang, Hidechan ramen is best served with lots and lots of black pepper. Another big difference was the type of noodle used. It wasn't your typical curly noodle with a yellowish tint. This noodle was much thinner, straight and white. Accompanying the broth and noodles were a large handful of chopped scallions and three slices of pork fanned out on top.
I didn't finish it. While it was delicious, I can't imagine eating this on a regular basis. It seems more like a special occasion meal. I also didn't take the photo, but thought the post needed a visual. It's exactly the same ramen I ate - down to the styrofoam bowl and plastic soup spoon.