Sunday, July 22, 2012

You had the noodle dream?

As Southern cities go, Columbia South Carolina ain't too shabby when it comes to unearthing a sparkling handful of gastronomical gems. While we lack the tourism and flash of Charleston or Savannah, Columbia has its own special brand of river-cloaked historical charm that I've grown to love over the last few years. You won't find restaurants graced with a celebrity face with lines round the block, but if you're willing to dig, you can find some truly divine places in which to savor and imbibe. 

Braden and I have become unashamed and (mostly) unpretentious foodies, and we pride ourselves on finding/trying the most fabulous & interesting places to eat in any city we visit. So we've decided to start writing down our blissful, full-bellied observations, starting right here in our current home-town.

Menkoi Ramen House

When we heard a few days ago that a brand-new ramen restaurant had opened on Gervais, we knew that it simply had to be a part of our weekend agenda. We walked toward the noodle-house with bated breath, praying that this might be a rare exception to "The Vista Rule:" A phenomenon that seems nearly inescapable in this part of Columbia's geography. Dining establishments in the Vista almost exclusively fall into only 3 categories: chain joints, bars, or independent places with decent but grossly overpriced food. The rare exception, (like the sorely missed Peace, Love, & Rocky Roast), tends to quickly fade away, driven into poverty and ruin by the Vista's insanely high operating costs. The Ramen house is located next to Mojitos, where Z-Pizza used to reside. We walked in and were greeted by fabulous smells and a super-friendly staff. The menu is short and straight-forward; 7 different kinds of ramen, and a small handful of other dishes, everything under $8.50. We ordered the spicy ramen and the miso ramen (requesting that it be quite spicy as well.) We wanted to try a rice ball, but they were, apologetically, all out. (Next time.) The food arrived very quickly - two enormous, steaming bowls of noodles and broth. 

Loaded with bean sprouts, vegetables, seaweed, and a few tender slices of pork, these noodles were out of this world. The broth was perfectly spicy, (kicky and sinus-clearing without being tongue-numbing), and the flavors were complex, fresh, and vibrant. I devoured my entire bowl and enjoyed each bite more than the last. (BTW, there is no elegant or lady-like way to eat a bowl of noodles with chopsticks. Perhaps skip this place as a first-date destination.) Overall, we were extremely impressed; Menkoi Ramen House has definitely carved out a spot on our permanent rotation. Especially for late-night munchies - they're open until 3am! We can only hope that the swarms of noodle-loving, nocturnal college students that will descend on the city this fall will help keep this place in business, and that "The Vista Rule" will finally be proven wrong. 

Menkoi Ramen House on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. Hi Kimberly,

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