Humidity that you can cut with a knife. Temperatures hovering around 90 degrees fahrenheit. No air conditioning. A steaming hot bowl of soup.
Doesn't sound like a combination that would illicit pleasure. But, pleasure was had.
My "in-the-know" food-riffic friend Peter led the way. It was a hot sticky summer evening and the man had a bowl of ramen on the brain. In specific, he couldn't stop raving about a new spot called Za-Ya Ramen at the far end of Court Street in the netherworld between Carroll Gardens, the Gowanus Expressway, and Red Hook. We had to go.
The place is barebones, but clean within an inch of its life. No A/C, so heat from the day and the open kitchen permeated the room.
Sweat aside, I soon felt transported by a small bowl of Zuke-don, ruby red raw tuna, served with sweet onions, scallions, and soy dressing on bed of warm rice. Delicate and rich all at once. Then we tucked into a plate of Chicken Karaage, perfectly crisp pieces of boneless fried chicken with spicy mayo for dipping.
Then came the big bowls, mine brimming with a vegetable broth so intense that it was creamy and packed with umami. It was served with sweet corn, shiitake mushrooms, scallions, cucumber, lotus root chips, and a soft-boiled egg for good measure. And then there were the noodles, delectable noodles with a bit of give and chew. I wanted the slurping to go on forever.
Do I wish that Za-Ya Ramen had air-conditioning? Yes. But, that won't stop me from slurping up more of their genius ramen before autumn arrives. It's so worth it.