It’s why we’ve built Nome.
One of my most memorable experiences was a trip to a little port town called Hakodate in the Hokkaido Prefecture, a scenic six-hour bullet train ride from Tokyo. It’s famous for its uni (sea urchin) and all sorts of delicious crustaceous sea dwellers. However, as a noodle aficionado (my Instagram handle is @noodlefeed), I was really there for one reason: shio ramen.
Hakodate is widely considered the birthplace of Japanese ramen; centuries ago soba noodles first arrived here from Nanjing, China and the first Japan-made bowl of ramen was made here using a simple chicken and salt based broth.
The ramen shop to go for this opening rendition is Seiryuken, which famously serve this shio style. An hour-long queue awaited us of course. When two spots opened up, we ordered, slurped and left within 20 minutes. It was delicious: simple, clean, elegant.
Still feeling somewhat peckish, we wandered down an unassuming side street to find a homely ramen shop, called Ebisuken. It looked barely open. The chef was squatted in the corner out of the purview of any oncoming patrons. As recommended by the chef, we ordered the miso ramen with butter and corn.
Mind-emphatically blown 🤯
Words cannot describe how good it was. The chef, who turns out specialises in shio ramen, saw the wide smiles on our heads and prompted to show us how he makes it with his minimal English. Head nodding followed shortly. It’s a bowl of noodles I will never forget.
Left: shio ramen at Seiryuken. Right: miso ramen at Ebisuken.
Hakodate is deeply etched into my mind. From the food to the friendly people to the juxtaposition of Russian architecture with the more traditional native form. Food has that impact. The pursuit of it takes you to the most unexpected places. It’s central to our lives in more ways than pure sustenance and nutritional value; it’s the gateway to connecting with people, cultures, societies, both at home and abroad. Whether you’re a foodie, gourmand, chef, food writer, Instagram blogger or just like taking pictures of food; this pursuit is what inspires and excite us.
“Food is everything we are. It’s an extension of nationalist feeling, ethnic feeling, your personal history, your province, your region, your tribe, your grandma. It’s inseparable from those from the get-go.” — Anthony Bourdain
Be a traveller, not a tourist.
However, to find these delectable culinary experiences is not easy. It requires work. Unfortunately, TripAdvisor and Foursquare are not the solutions. “Winging it” for that serendipitous moment doesn’t work either.
What evitably happens is your eyes are glued to your phone, searching for a restaurant to go to, and then hopping from one place to another, deliberating if the place looks good or not while hangry-ness sets in. Combined with our natural risk aversion and FOMO, it becomes a stressful and time-consuming situation. But, why waste that time on holiday?
The solution: plan it. This is what foodies do! This is why we have restaurant lists stored in Notes, Excel or Google Maps.
Now, that doesn’t mean planning to the nth degree, scheduling every meal of every day of your holiday (surprisingly, not uncommon). The best places require pre-booking or early morning queuing. At the very least, know which good areas to eat in, put your phone away and just explore. Let your senses guide you. See where the local crowds are. Try new things.
A little planning goes a long way, and it doesn’t have to be painful. Fortunately, a lot of people have done the work for us. We are inundated with mouth-watering content. We just need a little help sieving through it all, navigating the options, tailor it to ourselves and empower us to explore the World through food. And that’s what Nome is for.