Ahhhh, Ramen Tatsu-Ya! I happily caress your surface with my chopstick tips. What for? To express some goddamned affection!

I once knew nothing of ramen other than cheap dry-noodle packages that feed many a starving college student, or the fact that it's Naruto's favorite meal. I'm pleased to say Ramen Tatsu-Ya taught me how to LOVE ramen, or at least the Texas-ized version of ramen. During my college days, a friend of mine, Jonathan, introduced me to the movie Tampopo. It's a Japanese comedy about two truck drivers who learn how to cook great noodles. It also explores the relationship between love and food. It's a fun flick and will make you very hungry for ramen. It also will show you that ramen is so much more than Styrofoam cups of noodles.

Another friend, J.R., introduced me to Tatsu-Ya during one of my frequent visits to Austin. He raved about this restaurant, and his recommendations seldom disappoint. Tatsu-Ya was launched by two Austin-based DJs-turned-chefs. “We want to educate people on what ramen truly is," says their website. "It’s the soul food of Japan. The process of broth-making can take an extremely long time in order to draw out the flavors from each ingredient.” This is why Tatsu-Ya is worth the wait and price. Thank you, Tatsu-Ya, for opening in Houston! Jessie and I usually order veggie ramen with a chili bomb and spicy edamame to munch. The veggie ramen is served piping hot with plenty of homemade noodles, mushroom and soy broth and a magical rainbow of tofu and vegetables, including roasted corn and Brussels sprouts. Wash it down with a Topo Chico (or beer) and you have yourself one hell of an afternoon. 

Tatsu-Ya has become our #1 go-to restaurant in Houston. The atmosphere is hip and inviting, providing ample elbow room to slurp yummy noodles and broth while listening to top tracks, everything from Wu-Tang Clan to Sigur Ros. So, I may still not know too much about ramen, or what a perfect bowl of ramen looks or tastes like, but I do know what I like, and I like, no, I LOVE Tatsu-Ya! 

How to Eat Ramen (courtesy of Tampopo)