Take Me Out reviews are sponsored by Citizens Bank of Edmond.
I watch a lot of anime.
It’s a relatively new thing. I started a couple of years ago with one series and now, hoo boy, I watch a lot of it. I’ve enjoyed cartoons forever, but this new obsession with Japanese cartoons is, at best, difficult to explain. There’s a kind of optimism that is lacking from “adult” cartoons made in America. Everything here is either upbeat, positive, and 100 percent aimed at children or it’s cynical and sarcastic and acceptable for adults.
Anime (aka Japanese cartoons) have a brightness to them. Not that sarcasm or cynicism don’t creep in, but they’re accents, not the main thrust. The world right now is so dour and mean. I crave entertainment that is fantastical and happy and hopeful.
There is a side effect, however. Since most of these cartoons are written and animated in Japan, almost all the foods they reference are Japanese.
In “The Disastrous Life of Saiki K,” Nendou (the idiot friend) is obsessed with ramen. In “We Never Learn,” one of the students works for her dad’s udon shop. Japanese curry gets plenty of love, and sushi makes an occasional appearance, too.
Well, last night, during one of my favorite episodes of “Kaguya-sama: Love is War,” one of the characters goes to a ramen shop and the way the dialogue and art portrayed that glorious broth, filled with noodles and pork belly, I found myself nearly drooling over the mere idea of the dish.
OKC is not a ramen desert, but it’s also not the most ubiquitous of foods. When Tamashii Ramen shut down their OKC and Edmond stores because of the pandemic, about a third of the metro-area ramen disappeared.
That opened the door for the most unlikely takeaway ramen shop in OKC: Goro Ramen.
I am an equal opportunity ramenhead. Goro and Tamashii and Yuzo and Tokyo (and I’m always hearing rumblings of other restaurants doing ramen, too) all make great ramen. But Goro has, almost since the beginning, avoided delivery and takeout ramen because owner and chef Jeff Chanchaleune didn’t want people eating his ramen unless it was at its best.
But this is a new world and Goro has embraced a new way of doing things. For the sake of my very happy tummy, I say, “Thank god.”
Goro has pared its menu down to the essentials: tori paitan, spicy miso, yasai (vegan), and chilled ramen along with a few starters and a few refugee dishes from the wonderful-but-currently-closed Gun Izakaya (Chanchaleune’s other restaurant). But you get more than just food when you order Goro’s ramen these days; you also get an instruction card for how to reheat the ramen at home.
When I say I was craving ramen, I really mean it. I spent the night before reading article after article about different styles and how best to eat ramen and I realized that Chanchaleune was right to forgo takeout and delivery until he had a better way to ensure its quality.
Noodles begin to degrade in the broth immediately. Broth begins to cool and separate immediately. The delicate balance of ingredients gets thrown out of whack the longer you wait to eat it.
It was wonderful to have a James Beard Award-nominated chef’s instructions at hand to make my ramen as close as possible to the in-shop experience. The broth on my spicy miso ramen ($14) was warm and comforting and the pop of spice was just as I remembered it. Get the chili bomb on the side if you are so inclined, but I felt the heat was well-represented without it. The charred pork meatballs were, as always, such a delight. Texturally and flavorwise, these are some of the best around, and they’re large enough to get at least three bites off each.
The wakame salad ($5) is a marinated seaweed salad and I get it almost everywhere it’s available. Sushi restaurants almost always have it, but Goro’s version seems a little heartier and not quite so gummy. That said, if you’re choosing the order of foods to eat, I’d recommend you down this (with a squirt of the included seasoned lemon) and the eggplant wontons (below) before anything else. Like I said, the ramen is packaged in a way that encourages eating on your schedule, while this salad is at the mercy of its marinade. Let it sit too long and you might be in for an unpleasant mouthfeel.
I’m a Gun (Izakaya) nut. I’ve been a few times, as my wallet allows, and it’s one of my favorite places in the metro to spend more money than I should. While the skewers and the pork katsu sando and, honestly, just about everything else makes me salivate, the dish I recommend to every single person who goes there are the eggplant wontons ($10). How glorious that they’ve been shuffled over to Goro’s to-go menu for the time being.
Doesn’t matter if you’re vegan or you only enjoy food if it has suffered, these eggplant wontons are my go-to every single time. For something with absolutely no meat, it’s very meaty. Do eggplants suffer? Probably. And I chew extra hard, just to really drive home how much I hate those aubergine jerks. The heat on these is far from intense, but the flavors still pack a pungent punch.
If they’re not available on the online ordering system, call the restaurant. When I went to get my ramen, the kindly server seemed perplexed that I was unable to order the wontons online, because they definitely had them in the shop that day. I don’t know what to tell you, except that computer systems are built and operated by humans, and we all screw up sometimes.
I did not screw up by getting the kare mazemen ($16), which are thick, chewy noodles coated in a lovely Japanese curry sauce with chunks of confit chicken and beet-pickled ginger.
You know how restaurants are struggling? And you know how you should be isolating as much as possible? You can solve this, ever so slightly, by ordering enough for more than one meal. A bowl of spicy miso ramen was enough. More than enough. But my body has this pesky habit of craving sustenance at least 18 times a day (I try to only feed it 17 times a day because I’m on a diet). I knew that when the ramen was gone, I could indulge in glorious Japanese curry noodles and ultra-tender chicken for dinner or lunch the next day. And I did. Boy howdy did I ever.
There are a lot of things we've given up in this pandemic. A lot of of things we might still have to give up. I am thankful, on days like this, that good ramen is not yet one of them.
Thanks again to Citizens Bank of Edmond for sponsoring these reviews.