Saturday, May 14, 2011

Ramen noodles at La Fiesta in Narita Airport

This was my first trip back to Japan after the earthquake.  Other than a few telltale signs, it appeared business as usual in Tokyo. Power shortages have forced the use of less illumination.  Airconditioners were turned down and not all restaurants were open at hotels. Radiation levels in Tokyo have always been safe and have returned close to the baseline of ~0.1 micro-sieverts/hr.  Even after the first rains following the disaster, the number had climbed to a maximum of only a few micro-sieverts/hr, more than a thousand times less than the dose received on a round trip flight to New York.
Before entering the immigration area, there is a food and shopping court upstairs at Narita airport, and there is one shop there that sells Ramen.  It has been a habit of mine to pay homage here before I fly out.  It is not so much the quality of the Ramen here, but the desire to finish off one last noodle bowl in Japan before departing is what brings me here.

There are 3 choices for Ramen noodle bowls: the usual ones with soya and with miso, and a dish with roast pork slices.  I went for the roast pork slices—the broth was hearty, the noodles themselves with their characteristic yellowish tinge reasonably fresh, though I would probably avoid the roast pork slices and go for the cheaper, regular slices in future.  Ramen at most places does for me what I believe it is supposed to do: provide a quick, warm, and tasty meal with fresh noodles and a few slices of meat swimming in a satisfying broth that has seen its share of “stuff” that has simmered in it for extensive periods.  This “stuff” is a matter of much ado and fuss, at times cloaked in secrecy, and a matter of much snobbery, whether among the Japanese menfolk who love Ramen, or New Yorkers like me, who have made it an acquired taste to fuss over.  But snobbery is a matter of style, that I suspect is at odds with the very purpose of Ramen, that percolated up as a quick fix noodle meal, from its Chinese “lo-mein” roots.

Anyway, the place at the airport, with the improbable name of “La Fiesta” seems the only place out at Narita where you can get Ramen.  Wash it down with a glass of lager beer and you are ready to hit the security lines.  The place does what it is supposed to do.

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