OK so my first ramen this year was a lackluster event. Hana didn't sleep much on the flight, a total of two hours, so we were all pretty shot last night by the time we got to the hotel. Additionally, my wife's nephew came by and visited us at the hotel for an hour or so since he had to get back to Kyoto and this was his only opportunity to visit. So as a result, there was no late night trip to a ramen shop and I had to find another means of filling the craving.
Oh yeah, and a word on the flight; JAL, great service, lousy food. Baked ziti for breakfast is not exactly most people's idea of arrival in Japan, but what do you expect in this day and age.
Japanese convenience stores are truly wonderful places, especially to the outsider. You can get decent food, pretty cheaply. and in my experience they are clean and bright. To our pleasure, our hotel has a branch of the ever-present Family Mart on the lobby floor. When Hana didn't sleep on the plane, I thought for sure she would sleep well our first night. Nope. Not even close. She was up after about an hour and a half nap and, thinking it about noon, wanted to play. Rumi and I were pretty hungry as well so Family Mart was our best option. There really is a myriad choices when it comes to instant ramen or cup ramen here with flavors ranging from"seafood" to "french curry." I think I may actually have to revisit to see exactly what french curry tastes like. But for the time being I grabbed a Nissin "Big Cup Noodle" for myself and a seafood for Rumi.
You are no doubt familiar with cup noodle, and I hesitated to go there, but thought it would provide a good contrast to what I am setting out in search of for lunch today.
I was surprised however that there was more writing material in the BIG cup noodle than I had expected. There were a whole bunch of toppings in there. Yellow masses that resemble conjealed chicken fat which I quicly identified as egg, shrimp, or rather the underdeveloped children of shrimp, scallions and some other questionable cubelike form of sandlewood color. Poke, poke, grab with chopsticks....ah yes this must be a crouton or something. I showed Rumi proud that I had figured it out. "That's what they call meat," she informed me. "Beef I think." I certainly didn't think so.
A quick word to appologize for the photo quality, the kid was finally asleep and I didn't want to set the flash off too much. Anyway, you don't really want to see this in anymore detail than you probably can.
Rumi's Seafood Cup Noodle actually contained real seafood in it. Octopus and shrimp, as well as crab stick, which while not actually crab, is usually attributed to another creature of the ocean, typically pollock or haddock I think.
All in all, disappointing. I will award a score of a half bowl, for the ease and convenience of a ramen like substance at 3am and the amazement at the variety of choices available. Today, Ramen for real.