Soma Sushi's Handmade Ramen: Behind the Noodles

Categories: Local Spotlight

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Hauck's foie gras ramen with Perigord truffles.
"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.

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Pork ramen 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.

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.



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Location Info

Soma Sushi

4820 Washington Ave., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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5 comments
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Mai Pham
Mai Pham

I admit I'm intrigued. I love foie gras more than I should.  But butter in ramen? I don't know about that. What I really love about traditional ramen and Japanese food in general is the feeling of eating clean food that's not weighed down by butters, creams, heaviness. I like that ramen broth is essentially a thick consumme. Now, I've never made ramen broth but my understanding is that it is usually pork based or mushroom based dashi (pls feel free to correct me if I'm wrong). My question: is adding butter common in the traditional Japanese preparation or is this a Franco-Japanese twist? Adding butter, while decadent, sounds too French for me, even if I am a Chef Hauck fan.

Will
Will

You need to watch the recent No Reservations in Japan.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

This is what I did with my night, thanks to Liam: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

I should know this, thanks for clarifying, Katharine. I was going to try the ramen regardless, I do love it so. I'm pretty sure I've tried all of the broths at some point but i think I usually get shoyu.  Time to watch some Bourdain.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Butter is a standard garnish in Hokkaido-style ramen. They also normally put sweet corn in there, too.

And there are dozens of different kinds of ramen broths. The four standards are shio, which is almost like a clear stock; tonkotsu, like the creamy kind at Cafe Kubo's; shoyu, which is flavored with and is almost the color of soy sauce; and miso, which is made with miso and sometimes mixed with pork fat so that, like the tonkotsu, it's creamy and rich.

Lots of popular Japanese food is weighed down, too; they love to deep-fry stuff just as much as we do.  ;)

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