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Food & Drink

Slurp the Rich Tonkotsu at Ichigoh Ramen in Deep Ellum ASAP

 

In recently reading an article on how to assemble your first bowl of ramen, I realized that my appreciation for a restaurant or dish often draws from whether I can do it myself. Steaks? Sure, Nick & Sam’s sounds good, but I also trust my steak-cooking abilities to offset the $120 minimum. Tacos? A trickier split, to say nothing of the time-sink that comes with marinating. So it is with ramen that my respect-to-ability ratio is nearly 100 to 0.

I could try, no doubt, but the prospect of creating the tare, the broth, the chashu — to say nothing of the noodles — it’s all a bit much. It would take time. And would I even know how to improve? As a Texan, I can detect deficiencies in my steaks and tacos by dint of decades of experience and tasting.

Why bother with all of that, when I could just go get the Rich Tonkotsu at Ichigoh in Deep Ellum?

If you haven’t heard of Ichigoh, it’s hard to blame you — the ramen spot opened quietly in December in Tanoshii’s location on Commerce. It opened so quietly, in fact, that Tanoshii’s signage is still present on the exterior. And for all of the clamor that Tanoshii received when it opened in 2013 as one of the first dedicated ramen spots in Dallas, Ichigoh’s birth has been measured and deliberate.

On a quiet weekday lunch hour, I’m the only person inside Ichigoh — a far cry from the hour-long waits of early Tanoshii days. After a bowl of Kisetsu no Kinoko butter, which is an umami bomb of mushrooms, garlic, onion, scallion and Ponzu butter and so good, I am delivered the Rich Tonkotsu. My server recommended it on the basis that it will be leaving the menu soon. So, visit ASAP?

Tonkotsu ramen is that porky goodness thanks to its pork-derived broth. You couple that creaminess with the pork chashu and you are big on the pig with a bowl of chewy noodles, bamboo shoots, pickled ginger and scallions. Is that an egg in there? Obviously.

Heat isn’t a requirement for a great bowl of ramen, but I find myself seeking it out more often than not. So besides the egg, I have to add on the spicy Karami paste as well. Made of seven types of peppers including Sichuan pepper, the Karami paste won’t destroy you the way the Demon will at Oni, but it’s that inclusion of Sichuan pepper that makes it stand out. Its tongue-numbing abilities create an extra layer of depth that reminds me of the Spicy Kotteri Ramen at Seattle’s esteemed Ooink or the boiling cauldron Hot Pots of London’s China Town.

It’s a shame if the Rich Tonkotsu takes more than a brief vacation from Ichigoh’s menu because I know that I won’t be able to replicate it at home, no matter how hard I try.