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Dosunco

May 27, 2016 , In: Tasty , With: No Comments
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Remember those days when you just got out of high school, had finally moved into a place not owned by your parents, were living on a shoe string budget, and decided the best way to save money was to buy those super cheap packets of ramen noodles at the grocery store?  I’m sure you do.  Some of us are still in that phase.  Some of us remember those noodles fondly, with their packets of powder flavoring, and buy them on occasion for a taste of nostalgia.  But do you ever go “wow, I really love those things, I’ve got to get some more,” or “steak or ramen noodles? ramen, of course.”  Yeah, didn’t think so.

The problem is, those weren’t the real deal.  While they’re technically IMG_2489ramen noodles, they’re not truly ramen.  They’re mass produced knock-offs.  They lack the soul of authentic noodle and broth.  It’s like someone who’s never been to the ocean looking at a grainy photocopy of a beach photo versus them actually going to the beach, with the sun warming their skin, the waves spraying their legs with salty foam, and the cool wet sand squishing under their toes.

Dosunco, a Japanese kitchen, can assist you in your journey towards rameny enlightenment.  Located in a small strip mall on Kennedy Blvd, this small restaurant serves masterpieces in a bowl.  Their authentic recipes could just as easily be found across the pacific as in Tampa.  Every spoonful of broth that passes your lips was made froIMG_2482m scratch by Dosunco’s very own Japanese Ramen Chef Alihiro.  For those of you who have bad reactions to MSG, take heart, it is a taboo ingredient there.  By keeping the other ingredients in their traditionally smaller portions, the ramen are allowed to shine in these bowls as the true centerpiece (it is, after all, a ramen dish, not a pork or bean sprout dish.)  Each ingredient has its own distinct flavor, but they are worked into one cohesive, balanced meal.

Laura was feeling like a little heat, so she ordered the Spicy Veggie Dosunco Ramen.  She also likes to try to stretch her meal into a second meal for home, so she ordered extra noodles.  The additional noodles came in their own bowl, which is in itself a sign of genius as it allows the eater to add them at their own pace to prevent overwhelming the bowl’s other ingredients or, if they intend to take them home as Laura did, keep them separate from the broth to prevent them from going IMG_2491soft due to soaking in the liquids.  The soy bean paste broth had a medium cut of spice, enough to heat your pallet without numbing your tongue to the enjoyment of your meal.  Beneath the reddish-orange broth hid bean sprouts, corn, lemon, and wakame sea weed.  I personally love adding corn to ramen as I find its sweetness blend very well with the noodles.  The sea weed was in soft, thin strips, being different in species and preparation from what you’d find in sea weed salads.  Bits of green onion floated in the bowl, adding their influence to the broth’s spicy mix.  The tofu, medium firm, had a slight crust on the outside to keep the texture from being too mushy.  And then there was the ramen.  Masterfully cooked, this stuff is what real ramen is about.  It was al dente in the Japanese style, which is a hair more cooked than the Italian version, but still with the firmness that you will love.  These wavy noodles lack the starchy, powdery flavor of their supermarket kin and taste like they came right off a noodle cart in Japan.

I ordered the Dosunco Ramen, which, while it shared a few ingredients with Laura’s dish, was very different in flavor.  Heard the word but stillIMG_2485 wonder exactly what “umami” tastes like?  Try this dish’s broth.  It has that pleasant, savory taste that comes from the soy bean paste, marinated ground beef, and roast pork.  The bamboo shoots still had that slight crunch to them that I relish and my bean sprouts were super tender, almost identical to mushrooms in texture and flavor.  The seasoned egg had a subtle flavor modifying its usual hard boiled egg taste; you had to let the egg white linger in your mouth to have any chance of tasting it (which fits with traditional Japanese meals as they are eaten at a slower pace than your typical American meal.)  The yolk was creamy, not dried out as with most hard boiled eggs, and was an incredibly silky surprise.  I had the same fantastic noodles Laura had in her dish but, unlike hers, I had none left over for later.  Or broth.  Or anything else.

I may still eat the occasional prepackaged ramen noodles in a pinch, especially if I need a quick, super cheap meal.  But I’ve had the privilege of being served the real thing and it will color my view on any future ramen (or ramen pretenders) that pass my lips.  I know the weight of the true ramen in my chop sticks, the scent of the broth, the mingling of individual flavors and textures into one experience.  I know.

Dosunco

3310 W. Kennedy Blvd.

Tampa, FL 33609

 

Matt Burns
Matthew is a Massachusetts native who has lived most of his life in Florida. He has travelled extensively throughout the U.S., eating every step of the way, and has gone abroad, sampling international food at its source, including Belgian waffles in Belgium, Zapiekanka (Polish pizza on French bread) and homemade pierogis in Poland, and conch fritters and guava duff in the Bahamas. He undertook a cooking class with the executive chef of a resort in Cozumel, Mexico making tortillas from scratch by hand, creating a rice and raisin dish, and practicing plating and decoration, has taken two chocolate making classes in Port Richey, FL at Chocolates By Michelle (he highly recommends this to anyone who likes sweets, and especially to couples for a fun date,) and attended one chocolate making class in Belgium making those world famous Belgian chocolates. He has been a part of GTE Financial for over 5 years and is currently working Onscreen with GTE’s incredibly successful new Interactive Teller Machines.

Matthew moved to Tampa in 1995 and began exploring its culinary hot spots. Along with his wife, Laura, he has eaten his way through a large portion of the greater Tampa Bay area, emptying plates in both popular venues and those hard to find, under the radar locales. These two are avid fans of Food Network and the Travel Channel and combine the knowledge they gain from those programs with their personal experiences to bring you a few must try delights. Look for their weekly food blog on Wednesdays for a tip on a new spot to try for the weekend or a reminder of a place you may want to visit again.
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Matt Burns
Matthew is a Massachusetts native who has lived most of his life in Florida. He has travelled extensively throughout the U.S., eating every step of the way, and has gone abroad, sampling international food at its source, including Belgian waffles in Belgium, Zapiekanka (Polish pizza on French bread) and homemade pierogis in Poland, and conch fritters and guava duff in the Bahamas. He undertook a cooking class with the executive chef of a resort in Cozumel, Mexico making tortillas from scratch by hand, creating a rice and raisin dish, and practicing plating and decoration, has taken two chocolate making classes in Port Richey, FL at Chocolates By Michelle (he highly recommends this to anyone who likes sweets, and especially to couples for a fun date,) and attended one chocolate making class in Belgium making those world famous Belgian chocolates. He has been a part of GTE Financial for over 5 years and is currently working Onscreen with GTE’s incredibly successful new Interactive Teller Machines.

Matthew moved to Tampa in 1995 and began exploring its culinary hot spots. Along with his wife, Laura, he has eaten his way through a large portion of the greater Tampa Bay area, emptying plates in both popular venues and those hard to find, under the radar locales. These two are avid fans of Food Network and the Travel Channel and combine the knowledge they gain from those programs with their personal experiences to bring you a few must try delights. Look for their weekly food blog on Wednesdays for a tip on a new spot to try for the weekend or a reminder of a place you may want to visit again.