Crane Ramen (Pop-Up)
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to visit the pop-up dinner put on by Crane Ramen at Vine Bread & Pasta. For those unfamiliar, Crane Ramen is an upcoming ramen shop slated for an August opening in the former Key West Cigar Bar (next to The Bull). And no, this isn't 50 cent bags of salty sadness you get at Publix. With the help of Blue Oven Kitchens Inc., the Crane Ramen team was able to set up shop inside of Vine, serving up 3 varieties of their ramen at $10 a bowl. There was the Shio (top photo) served with dashi, naturomaki, egg, scallions, pulled pork, and bamboo shoots in a salt based broth. Then there was the Shoyu (bottom photo), served with a soy egg, char siu, baby bok choy, and wood car mushrooms in a soy sauce based broth. Finally, there was a vegetarian option, served with shredded cabbage, pickled shitake, roasted carrots, and bok choy. You'd be surprised what a few gringos can pull off with great noodles provided by Sun Noodle (who supply some of America's best ramen shops), house-made broths made using traditional Japanese techniques, and a whole lot of fresh ingredients. For me, the char siu (sliced pork) was a standout. Marinated overnight in soy sauce, sake, and ginger amongst other ingredients, it was in a word; fantastic. The broths were not overly salty, the noodles perfectly cooked, and while everything was very flavorful, it didn't taste heavy or overpowering. They absolutely nailed it. While ramen in 90+ degree weather wasn't exactly pleasant, I enjoyed the Shoyu so much, I had to get seconds and tried the Shio as well. If you can stand having a hot bowl of delicious noodle soup in this weather, you shouldn't miss this. I love ramen, even more than I love poutine...so when I went for two bowls, you know it's good stuff. Having had ramen in Japan and multiple spots in South Florida, I would say this measures up just fine. Crane Ramen is serving again tonight from 5 PM until 9 PM (or whenever they run out). If you want to try it, this is your chance to get it before they open in August. I would recommend going!