I am not, by any means, a good cook.
I have mastered cheese on toast and can boil an egg with the best of them, but when it comes to preparing a meal, I defer to my much more knowledgeable and talented wife.
So I approached this ramen (noodle) masterclass in Victoria Square’s Wagamama restaurant with some degree of trepidation. Having known nothing about the art of ramen cooking I was a little nervous that I’d end up with a mess on a plate.
Thankfully that didn’t happen.
After being talked through the history of ramen by Wagamama head chef, Juan Manteca, we were given a crash course on the basics of a traditional ramen dish, which includes the ramen noodles themselves, a choice of stock and a variety of toppings all served up in the same traditional ramen dish. Originating some 150 years ago in Japan, ramen noodle dishes are arguably the most widely eaten dish in Japan and worldwide some 95 billion portions are eaten every year. That’s a lot of noodles, so it must be good.
We all set to work creating our masterpieces; first selecting the meat we would be using (on offer was chicken, fish, beef or eel), then boiling the ramen noodles for about a minute and selecting which stock we would use. I chose hake and a handful of chillis for some colour. Carefully arranging the noodles as a bed on which to place the meat and covering the whole dish with a ladle full of stock, and then adding a sprinkle of various vegetables my dish was ready to be tasted.
Happily my dish, and those of the others in the masterclass, was extremely tasty. Obviously ours would be no match for the dishes created by the Wagamama chefs but for a first try I think we all did pretty well, and I will certainly be back at Wagamama in the near future to slurp* my way through their menu.
Many many thanks to everyone in Wagamama and to Juan for helping me add another culinary delight to my repertoire.
* the ‘proper’ way to eat a ramen dish is to finish the noodles, the meat and the vegetables then slurp up the rest of the stock. Not. A. Problem.
Review by Jonny Cardwell