Let me tell you a tale of Samurai chefs, skilled in the art of making ramen.
Residents of Seattle know this story well, but I didn’t have to travel that far, because these Samurai have settled part of their clan in Houston, Texas. This is the story of Samurai Noodle (cue cool Japanese music here).
For those that want to see how these modern-day Samurai make their mystical bowls of ramen, checkout the video below. And don’t forget to keep reading for my review of their ramen.
A Journey To Samurai Noodle
As the sun rose into the sky, I peacefully awoke to the sound of “Cage the Elephant” blasting on the radio–a truly zen morning. I boarded my plane and soon arrived in the land of Houston. I jumped on a metal horse called “Uber”, and traveled for what seemed minutes. It was a conveniently short trek.
As I stood in the parking lot, I saw a sign that told me that Samurai Noodle was near—it was the large sign outside their window which said Samurai Noodle. I never said it was a mystical sign.
As I opened the doors and walked inside, I could see the tales of noodle-making Samurai painted on the walls.
The perfect ambiance for a great bowl of ramen. And the room was soon filled with more travelers seeking the same. It was a really great lunch crowd while I was there, and everyone seemed very relaxed and were enjoying their time there.
I was soon greeted by Thomas Tang, one of the head Samurai directing the operations there. Thomas was going from table to table welcoming everyone, and answering questions about the ramen they would soon eat.
Thomas was my guide into the art of making ramen at Samurai Noodle, where it all begins with their fresh-made noodles. You see, they don’t buy their noodles. That just wouldn’t be the Samurai way. Instead, they use Japanese ingredients to make noodles to their desired specifications in-house. This makes a huge difference.
And as we walked closer to the kitchen the air was thick with the smell of their broth. Their sweet, flavorful broth. A broth that is boiled for 4 days before it is allowed to pair with their fresh noodles.
But what is the result of this attention to detail? Well, take a look for yourself.
This is their Miso Shoyu Ramen.
As I began eating the dish, Thomas stepped-in to offer some sage advice—let the butter melt as you enjoy the ramen. This allows the butter to slowly envelope the broth as you eat. Truly wise words, as the broth was thick with flavor, with a good balance of salty and sweetness from that melting slice of golden butter.
And remember those fresh-made egg noodles? They were chewy and flavorful, with waves that allowed the broth to collect in each bite.
The chashu was sliced thin–perhaps by sword–allowing it to complement the dish and not overtake it. It had just enough fat along the edge to add extra fattiness to the broth.
Overall, the Miso Shoyu Ramen bowl was light and filling, leaving your stomach warm and satisfied, but not heavy or bloated. I found it to be a great lunch dish, perfect for anyone that wants a good meal before heading back on their journey of enlightenment.
But my journey to understand the Samurai chefs continued with one of their signature dishes. Their Tonkotsu Ramen.
This is where their broth–which is cooked for four days–gets to shine. The pork broth has such a deep flavor, which can only be created with patience and time. You can see the small pockets of fat rising to the top of the broth. I call them pockets of happiness.
And the flavor continues with their noodles–again, freshly made in-house. But this time they are thinner and firmer, to pair with the heavier tonkotsu broth.
The noodles envelope your mouth with each bite, providing a strangely cooling feeling to contrast the warm broth. It is a smartly planned pairing of noodles and broth. It is clear that they understand the importance of noodles in each bowl of ramen.
Overall, the Tonkotsu Ramen is heavier and has a deep pork flavor. The noodles are thin and firm, which allows you to take large, full bites. This is the type of bowl that requires a nap afterwards, but that is not a bad thing.
And yet, my journey was not at an end, as I was quickly given a bowl of plain, Japanese white rice. My initial confusion was soon addressed, as Thomas informed me that I should fill the bowl of rice with the remaining tonkotsu broth. And I was introduced to ramen rice.
Think of this as the best bowl of Rice Krispies that you will ever have, as each kernel of rice is soaked in the delicious pork broth. A nice ending to such a wonderful food journey.
The results were well-worth the travel to Samurai Noodle. You really can’t go wrong with their ramen bowls. The noodles are made fresh, and the broth is prepared in a slow, careful process. The team at Samurai Noodle was also very friendly and took the time to explain their ramen-making process. And another interesting tidbit is that every member of Samurai Noodle is a ramen chef, which means that everyone understands how each bowl is created.
The prices are also very reasonable, as the Miso Shoyu Ramen sells for $9.45, while the Tonkotsu Ramen sells for $8.95.
I’m happy with my experience at Samurai Noodle, and would recommend that others try it if you are in the Houston-area. You can find it open 7 days a week at 1801 Durham Drive, Suite #2, Houston, TX 77007.
Special thanks to Thomas Tang and Amiley for their help and information. Say hi to them when you stop-by.
See you all on the next one!