Kimchi Ramen and a Flaming Hot Cheeto Roll at Miso Yummy: Ramen Purists Beware

Miso Hungry 011s.jpg
Photos by Katharine Shilcutt
Kimchi ramen with katsu chicken at Miso Yummy.
While half the city was gorging themselves on ramen at Goro & Gun this weekend, I lucked upon a less crowded spot to slurp noodles: the front patio of Inversion Coffee House, where brand-new food truck Miso Yummy was parked only a few feet away. (Full disclosure: I ended up eating ramen at Goro & Gun later that night, too.)

See also:
- Goro & Gun, Houston's First Ramen Shop, Opening Soon Downtown
- Slurp Heaven: Cafe Kubo's Knows Ramen
- Soma Sushi's Handmade Ramen: Behind the Noodles

The new food truck is capitalizing on more than just the ramen craze that's hit Houston like a tsunami (still too soon?): It's also the third place in a week where I've eaten a dish based around Cheetos. To be fair, the first spot -- Poppa Burger -- has been serving its signature Bag of Flamin' Hot Cheetos Topped with Stadium Cheese for a few years now. But between the Cheeto-christened macaroni and cheese I had at Hollister Grill and the Flamin' Hot Cheeto-filled Seoul Hot roll at Miso Yummy this weekend, I'm calling it a trend.

Miso Hungry 014s.jpg
Seoul disappointing.
Unfortunately, I wasn't that taken with the Seoul Hot roll. It was all talk and no game, and I'm glad to have split it between two other people. I didn't need more than two bites to realize that the gimmicky ingredients -- including an unnecessary flood of jalapeño-flecked queso across the top of the two rolls -- were just that. I'm told that Crave Sushi in Midtown has long offered a Flamin' Hot Cheeto roll of its own -- which its fans claim is actually very good -- but now I'm less eager to try it than ever.

On the bright side, the kimchi ramen was delicious. Splitting that between three people was a mistake. Although the soup was certainly large enough to go around, we all fought over its various components: dark green sheaths of spinach, a perfectly poached egg, a thicket of curly, chewy noodles and katsu (Japanese breaded-and-fried) chicken. I was surprised by how well chunks of fried chicken worked in the broth, its breading soaking up the spicy-sour flavor of kimchi and adding an extra dimension to the chicken underneath.

Miso Hungry 004s.jpg
In fact, my only complaint -- and this is a minor quibble -- is that the soup wasn't really ramen. It was more like kimchi jjigae, a spicy Korean stew, with ramen noodles and a few other accouterments tossed in. That said, I don't care too much what Miso Yummy wants to call it as long as the truck keeps serving it. I'm a sucker for both sundubu jjigae and kimchi jjigae. All the better if it involves chewy noodles and a poached egg.

Not being a ramen purist helped my enjoyment of the soup, too. I don't know that Houston is a city capable of being purist-minded about anything. This is the place where Cajun food is co-opted and adapted by Vietnamese, Japanese by Chinese, Mex by Tex. Hoping for something pure and unmuddied from the Bayou City is akin to hoping that Texans will one day pronounce words like Refugio and Brazos correctly.

Miso Hungry 005s.jpg
I've seen a lot of ramen ideologues disappointed in the first few days of Goro & Gun's service -- most of them on Yelp. Self-described "ramen enthusiasts" are having a field day telling the rest of the Internet how inauthentic Goro & Gun's tonkotsu ramen is, challenging that "Maruchan packet ramen is better" and advising the days-old restaurant to "[c]lose down, hire new (Japanese chefs) and start over."

All I can say is that those same people probably ought to steer clear of Miso Yummy as well, for fear of sullying their pure-minded ramen experiences with some hybrid mutt soup. Which leaves more for me.



Follow Eating Our Words on Facebook and on Twitter @EatingOurWords

Location Info

Goro & Gun - CLOSED

306 Main St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Poppa Burger

1622 N. Main, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Hollister Grill - CLOSED

5555 Washington Ave., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant


Advertisement

My Voice Nation Help
12 comments
SirRon
SirRon

Yelpers. Disgusting folk. I only wish there was a place in the Houston Press online media family where I could voice my opinion of restaurants.

DominicWalsh
DominicWalsh

I am in agreement with jjtexanstix and we (my wife and I ) were also one of those who rated it on Yelp.  I was under the impression (as most) that this was going to be a real treat.  Thanks to local print and online media, it was hyped from the moment of a rumor to the day the doors opened.  And here's the thing you have to remember: Serious, dedicated ramen eaters were excited and enthusiastically believed the hype.  So they raised their expectations, scheduled a babysitter, left work early and paid $85 for a first-hand front row seat.  Anyone with any self respect and willingness to tell the truth would have to admit that it flopped.  It's not a slam to the owners.  Not a slam to the promoters.  Not a slam to the writers.  Not a slam to the bartenders.  Not a slam to the waitstaff.  It...flopped.

It was not nearly worth the money or time.  GnG was simply not prepared and they opened before they perfected 'the first real ramen shop in Houston.'   Justifiably saddened, people (like me) posted unsatisfactory reviews on Yelp.  If you want to accept money for your meals you need to accept the feedback.  And we made sure to give credit where it is due; they got credit for wonderful service and a cool atmosphere, but poor ramen.  And if the ramen was bad, it was bad.  No one, absolutely no one, has yet to rate it as outstanding ramen.  Not....worth....the....hype.

One last thing (and I am quoting someone else): If everyone would have loved the ramen and rated it 5 stars on Yelp, no one would have their undies in a bunch.  In fact, more articles than ever would be flowing online.  But now, since the ratings were consistently low, Yelp reviewers are being called unsympathetic, mean and even trashy.  It's a simple fact.  The fact that it didn't work, and people stated their dissatisfaction.  While others...are resentful.

Jan Tolentino
Jan Tolentino

Just had the Ginger Ramen from Jenni's Noodle House! Nomz

Judi Hurwitt
Judi Hurwitt

so far, the best ramen I've had in the city belongs to Kata Robata Sushi + Grill ! I dream of that stuff...

brittany1362
brittany1362

The Cheetah Roll is pretty much the only thing to try at Crave and I think that in addition to jalapeno and Cheetos, they also include the tears of baby angels.  Mmmm.

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

Re: G&G/Yelp  Ouch those reviews are awful, loud mouthed ill mannered Texans, and the pretension was 4 feet thick..


jjtexanstix
jjtexanstix

I think the negative yelp reviewers for G&G are not only questioning the authenticity of the ramen but also the quality and competency of the way it's being made.  At Katanya-Ya in SF, I had a bowl of tonkotsu ramen with Japanese style fried chicken bits as a topping.  Not normally what you would find in "authentic" ramen but still the combination of the toppings with the noodles and broth tasted spectacular.  The ramen I had at Ippudo NY blew me away yet its cooks are primarily American (non-Japanese).  So clearly you don't have be of Japanese descent or have to do everything by the book to make a quality bowl of ramen.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that for Goro & Gun to be the self-proclaimed "first ramen shop in downtown Houston", expectations (understandably) are to be raised; especially true after being featured on the Chronicle just days before its opening.  They should have either taken their time to perfect their broth before the soft opening or at least have someone on staff who has experience working at a ramen shop.  I'm not questioning their abilities as chefs because their resumes and overall talent of the house clearly speak for themselves.  It's unfair to immediately compare them to the best ramen shops in the country but if you do want to call yourself a ramen shop, at the very least strive to be head and shoulders above from the current (weak) competition in Houston.

kshilcutt
kshilcutt moderator editor

@jjtexanstix I completely agree that there were very high expectations going in. I just don't think anyone - myself included - was prepared for the sheer quantity of Yelp reviews after two preview dinners and one full night of service. Things are certainly shifting away from the days when restaurants had a few weeks to work out the kinks before they really started getting slammed. As a member of the media and an avid social media user, I recognize that I'm part of that [problem?] [situation?]. It was still shocking to see such a vitriolic response after such a short time.

I think that part of that vitriol stems, however, from people who were going into G&G with visions of eating a bowl that would rival Totto Ramen on the restaurant's first night of business. In an ideal world, yes - everything would be ready to go and absolutely perfect from the get-go. But that's never how it works out for any of us. It's almost as if diners who weren't happy with their ramen took it personally. The level and depth of anger in those Yelp reviews was simply odd.

I'd rather see a restaurant aim high and miss the mark than aim low. And I'd rather see a restaurant take criticism seriously and build off it. G&G is doing both of those things right now, and I don't think they deserve to be put on blast for it.

For the record, the bowl of ramen I had at G&G that night was great. Not flawless, but very good and showing a lot of promise.

workworkwork
workworkwork

@kshilcutt @jjtexanstixLet's be honest here, if you claim to be the first ramen shop in Houston and participate with the media/social media generated hype instead of lower expectations, your restaurant should be ready for praise and yes, even criticism and snarky comments.  Ingredients used were standard ramen ingredients so what was fusion about it? Noodles were clumpy and chewy, broth had a thick sheet of oil and fat at the top. It wasn’t even close to ramen, fusion or not.

This is Texas, not the east or west coast, so no I did not walk in thinking I would enjoy something that rivals Totto ramen or the ramen stands under Tokyo station. It was more along the lines of "It's Houston's first ramen shop! But it's Houston's first ramen shop..."At a minumum, my friends and I expected something better than the other non-ramen focused restaurants in Houston. Teppay and Nippon to name a couple... I suspect those places use packets, just sayin...

The "F*&K YELP and YELPERS!" (deleted now bc he realized the double edged sword of social media) tweet was a nice touch by the owner of G&G. Reading opinions by food bloggers/writers is one thing, but I also value the opinions of my friends.

I wrote the maruchan comment... 

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...