ramen and pickles

science, technology, and medicine served up with some tasty noodles

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Ajisen Ramen, Westfield Mall, SF

Down in the food court in the lower level of the Westfield mall in San Francisco, facing the south side of Market, there is Ajisen Ramen.

It’s an underground food court, but the ramen place has it’s own seating area (not the communal food court seating), so I guess everyone in your party has to eat ramen (or katsu don or whatever else strikes your fancy on their menu).

The staff was incredibly friendly.  The menus were colorful with pictures of everything you can order.  I ordered the Ajisen ramen.  It was a white broth with cabbage, black mushroom, a marinated egg, and chashu.

Overall the broth wast decently rich and tasty.  The noodles were good.  The chashu was okay.  For some reason I really liked the consistency and mouthfeel of the cabbage and the mushroom.  The egg was really disappointing.  You can tell from the picture it has a smooshed sort of appearance and that tells you something about it’s hard mealy consistency.

Overall, Ajisen was an okay place for a mall food court chain.  It was good to get warm bowl of soup on a cold San Francisco evening, but I wouldn’t head to it as a destination.




Noraneko Ramen, Portland, OR

Norneko Ramen is a somewhat hard to find, but tasty place in Portland.  It’s by the people who started Biwa, and has some of the really delicious chicken karaage on the menu.  The fried chicken is a definite recommend here.  It has a lot of the Portland-hipster feel with nice wood, but something about the building makes you feel a bit like community college cafeteria.  The people that worked there were super nice and friendly (lots of people who came in asked tons of questions), and that is true of some of the customers.  However, some of the other customers we encountered on a fairly busy weekday at lunch were really obnoxious entitled acting hipster jerks, who were loud and rude about things like not wanting to wait, issues with getting the seats they wanted, etc.  It was very different from a Japanese ramen-ya experience in that way.

The shio ramen you can see was very good, with delicious melt in your mouth chashu, great soft boiled egg and other add-ins.  They also had a umeboshi soda (basically umeboshi with club soda and I assume some extra sugar), very delicious and highly recommended.

Overall, a definite recommend, but it is a seemingly odd part of town, and I don’t know what you’d be in the neighborhood to do other than going here, but it’s good enough to make it your destination reason for being there.




Umami Burger, Pickle Plate – again

I mentioned the Umami Burger pickle plate  in a previous post.

I visited the location in San Francisco this time and tried the pickle plate.  The carrots and cucumbers were good.  I was less enthusiastic about the other pickles.  I don’t even remember what they were now.  However,  I thought I would share the photo for completeness.


Ramen Bar, Philadelphia

Ramen Bar in Philadelphia is a tasty destination when you’re in town.

I got a traditional shoyu ramen with chashu.  It was solid, very traditional.  It’s been a while since I’ve gotten a slice of naruto fishcake, so that was a welcome addition.   It was tasty, and it was nice to find a really solid bowl of ramen in that part of the East Coast.





Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas

This was a bit of a surprise, but the Cosmopolitan Hotel/Casino has pork ramen on their room service menu.  The hotel is supposed to get a David Chang’s Momofuku branch soon, so maybe this is part of that planning.  It would be awesome to get Momofuku as room service.


The ramen was actually surprisingly good.  There wasn’t enough broth, as you can see from the picture (I haven’t had any yet), although maybe they underfill the bowl, as they put cling wrap on it and have to transport it up to the room.  However, the broth was good.  The egg was deliciously soft-boiled.  There were good onions.  The chashu was some of the most bacon like pork in ramen I’ve ever had.  It was a bit like cross grain thick cut bacon; however it was very smoky and tasty.  The noodles were the more thin and wheaty hakata style that is not my favorite (I like thin noodles, that are more crunchy and yellow, but that is just a taste thing).

Overall, the fact that you can get it delivered (still hot) and enjoy it from a view means I definitely have to give this ramen a strong recommendation.







Myzen Ramen, Sunnyvale, CA

Myzen Ramen is a relatively new place in Sunnyvale; it’s only been open a few months.

We tried the shio ramen ($9.99) and the Myzen/tonkotsu ramen ($10.99).  The tonkotsu ramen broth was quite good, rich and smooth, without feeling too heavy.  The shio ramen was rich compared to other shio broths, with a strong roasted sesame and slight seafood taste.  The noodles were very good chewy consistency, a bit on the medium/thick side.  The toppings were quite good, very fresh and crunchy, including the menma, corn, and black ear mushroom.  The menma (bamboo shoots) were actually some of the crunchiest and freshest tasting I can remember having.  The chashu was okay, nothing special.  The egg was quite good, perfectly soft boiled, with a firm, marinated exterior.  The inclusion of the classic naruto slice was a nice change of pace, and actually added some welcoming friendly color.

Overall, a recommended place.  We also had the fried oysters (3 with plum dipping sauce) and pickled cucumbers, which were good, but standard.  The fried rice we saw on someone else’s order looked quite good, with lots of chunks of pork and onions in it.

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RIP Leonard Nimoy, Ramen Aficionado


Peninsula Ethnic Grocery Stores

I thought it might be worth going through some of the grocery stores in the Mt View-Cupertino area which specialize in particular cuisines.

For Chinese (and a bit pan-Asian, including Filipino), the 99 Ranch chain is the largest.   There is one in Mt View:  http://www.yelp.com/biz/99-ranch-market-mountain-view-2, there is also Japanese grocery store (Nijiya) in easy walking distance, that has lots of prepared food as well: http://www.yelp.com/biz/nijiya-market-mountain-view

However, if you want to go a little bit further south, there is a very large complex of mostly Chinese shops, including another 99 Ranch down in Cupertino, in Cupertino Village:  http://www.cupertino.org/index.aspx?page=781

If you want a larger Japanese grocery, tea shops, sushi shop, ramen shop, gyoza shop, Japanese bookstore, Japanese bakery, and Daiso, then you can try this place in northern San Jose:

If you want a Korean strip mall, with grocery store, home goods stores, food court, etc, then on El Camino, just after the Lawrence Expressway, there is this place: http://www.yelp.com/biz/lawrence-plaza-food-court-santa-clara-2

Although, for just groceries (and a fancy Korean BBQ place next to it), just a little bit before on the other side of the road there is also the very large Hankook Market: http://www.yelp.com/biz/hankook-supermarket-sunnyvale

For South Asian, probably the most fully stocked (with nearby businesses like a sweet shop, ice cream shop, sari store, etc.) this is probably your best bet: http://www.yelp.com/biz/india-cash-and-carry-sunnyvale

A little bit up the street is a similarly named, but quite a bit tidier and more low key Indian place:  http://www.yelp.com/biz/bombay-cash-and-carry-sunnyvale

For Persian groceries and halal meats (and prepared foods), there is this the Rose Market.  You get your kebabs from literally a hole in the wall:

For a more Arabic halal market, this place is decent:
There’s also an awesome Pakistani restaurant right next to it, which is a bit like a nicer version of Naan-N-Curry. It’s worth visiting not only for the food, but also the giant portrait of Dumbledore.

Happy shopping (and eating!)

Claude Shannon & Theseus the Artificial Mouse, Dawn of Machine Learning

I found this great video featuring Claude Shannon, and his artificial mouse Theseus, named for the Greek hero who slayed the Minotaur in the Labyrinth, one of the earliest examples of machine learning.


The mouse is able to learn how to solve the maze.  Apparently, Shannon started getting involved down this track of making small robot like devices after his wife bought him a giant erector set as a present.

Paparazzi Protection, Snapchat IRL

Suppose that you’re out having a wild time in Vegas and don’t want to end up in anyone’s pictures.  There is now a device for that.  I couldn’t find anything more than the Fast Company brief overview, but the basic idea is that the device detects the infrared used by cameras (often used for range finding I guess) and then produces a bright counter flash in the IR spectrum to overexpose and prevent a picture from being taken.

Overall, I am a bit skeptical of how efficacious this will be for most cameras, which include pretty strong IR filters already.   Although, apparently sometimes they only have a filter in one of their cameras.  It is also likely that fancy trickery with HDR photography would help resolve the bright part (as it is emitting IR light which is going up and getting reflected off the face as well.

Anyway, it’s an interesting concept, and the general problem of preventing imaging is an interesting challenge.   Maybe we don’t have invisibility suits, but we may develop ways of being invisible on the ubiquity of imaging technology.  Or at least we may have an escalation of technology on that front.   Given the concern people have for ubiquitous surveillance and things like Google Glass, I wonder what other technological attempts at privacy may arise.

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