Responsible Peoples’ Noodles: It’s What’s for Dinner

OK, so they’re really called Tan Tan Men, and I usually have them for lunch. But let’s push ahead anyway!

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Fujiyama, nestled among the other casual dining spots at Aeon grocery and department store

fullsizerender-10-copyDuring the winter months I eat a lot of ramen noodles for lunch. While I’ll go anywhere nearby, most often I find myself at Fujiyama, a family-run joint that totally reminds me of a cozy, 70s-era department store cafeteria. Fujiyama is located on the second floor of the Aeon grocery and department store which was built in the 80s and honestly looks like it was immediately out of date even then.

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So…many….choices…

The Fujiyama menu features lots of options, but I usually order the same thing: Tan Tan Men, a spicy (ish) version of ramen with curly noodles, ground pork, steamed boy choy, thinly sliced negi green onions, an opaque broth thickened with miso and sesame paste, and topped with chili oil.

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The window display version of tan tan men, complete with mushroom (?) dude standing guard

Over a year ago when I tried tan tan men for the first time I used Google Translate to try and figure out what it was. Google Translate helpfully returned “Responsible Peoples’ Noodles” as a translation, resulting in yet another round of me muttering and swearing at my phone. A Japanese friend later explained that the dish comes in five different levels of heat, and it’s up to the customer to decide the appropriate level of spiciness. In a responsible manner, one presumes.

The original Dan Dan Noodles hail from the Sichuan province of China, known for its spicy cuisine. The Japanese version are spicy by Japanese standards, which means not spicy at all. And I like it that way! I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to spicy food in that I like to taste my food instead of suffer as a result of eating it. So Japanese-spicy is perfect for me: hot enough to add flavor, but not enough to cause pain.

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A surreptitiously snapped view from my seat; note the condiments on the right for further doctoring your lunch as desired

Last week I planned my errands to allow for a pause around noon for yet another bowl of steamy deliciousness. I whipped out my Fujiyama point card for frequent diners and ordered the usual. Most ramen dishes comes with slices of braised pork loin or belly called chashu that the diner easily grabs with chopsticks. Since tan tan men features ground pork instead it’s served with a slotted spoon for scooping up the delicious bits of pork that elude chopsticks and regular spoons.

It was delicious, as always.

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The slotted ladle for dredging the bowl of every last bit of goodness

 

Let’s Go Shopping: Egg Supplies at the 100 Yen Store

In an earlier post I extolled the virtues of the 100 yen store in general terms. I promised detailed follow-up, and here it is! And it’s egg-sactly what you all expected for sure: a discussion of the many egg accoutrements that you never knew you needed.

If I asked any of you to describe typical Japanese foods, I would likely hear expected answers. Sushi. Ramen. Tempura. Maybe the more knowledgeable members of the audience would offer tonkatsu, or even okonomiyaki. But unless you’ve been here you would probably never know how insanely awesome Japanese eggs are. You know that incredibly delicious, dark orange, creamy-yolked wonder that you bought at the farmers’ market in Brooklyn years ago for about $12,000 a dozen and still remember? That’s any egg in Japan, in any grocery or convenience store, for about 200 yen (about $1.80 USD) for ten eggs. Any time. The eggs are amazing and appear at pretty much any meal.

Awesome eggs mean incredible tools for cooking said eggs. Most of these fall under the You Never Knew You Needed These. And frankly you still probably don’t. But why should we let practicality stand in the way when only 100 yen (108 with tax) separate you from the following?

(And did you catch those horrible egg-y puns yet?!? Because I can keep them coming. All. Night.)

A recent jaunt to my local neighborhood The Daiso 100 yen store revealed the following egg cooking tools. You’ll laugh. You’ll sputter, “Who needs that?”. And then you’ll see the one item that makes you think hmm….maybe I need that after all……

Without further ado, I present the following.

Stuff That You Probably Already Have

OK, stuff that I definitely have. Like the Eggshell Opener for enjoying the perfect soft-boiled egg in its shell (nested in a glass chicken-shaped egg holder, because that’s how I roll). Yes, I’m insane.

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The eggshell opener

And the Egg Slicer -Square-. Because, you know, egg salad, and kanapki (Polish canapes) that you have at every Polish event with a half-slice of rye bread, a smear of butter,  ham, tomato, pickle, and a slice of hard boiled egg.

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Egg Cutter (Square)

And Everything Else

The Three-Way Egg Slicer, when the Egg Cutter -Square- just won’t cut it (ha!).

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Three Way Egg Slicer

The Boiled Egg Case. For carrying boiled eggs from pot to your lunchbox, as one does.

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The Boiled Egg mold, for shaping just-boiled and peeled eggs into adorable creatures for bento lunches.

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The Egg Timer, which sits in the pot with the eggs and changes color when the egg reaches the right doneness.

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The Egg Separator, because apparently using one’s fingers won’t do for Some People.

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The Microwave Onsen (Hot Spring) Egg Maker for the softer-than-a-soft-boiled egg.

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The Microwave Thin Omelet [Maker]. Presumable for [making] thin omelets in the microwave.

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A second/different Microwave Thin Omelet cooker, just in case the first one didn’t work out.

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The Heart Type Egg Frame, for those times when you really need a heart-shaped sunny side up egg but the heart-shaped cookie cutter had a rough night and can’t make it for breakfast.

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The Egg Hole Puncher. For those of you who don’t know, hard- or soft-boiled eggs are much easier to peel if you first poke a hole in the fat end of the egg, where the air bubble hangs out. I do this with a simple thumb tack, which works just fine. But the Egg Hole Puncher keeps calling my name; I may end up owning one soon, just because.

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And the ultimate WHAAAAT?!? egg contraption, The Boiled Egg Hole Holder. Which I’m pretty sure holds the egg and not the egg hole–but really you never know. As the diagram on the package helpfully shows, you PUSH the egg onto the pin, then lower the egg into its boiling water bath. A hole puncher *and* egg rack, all in one?!? Must….resist…..

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