Currently at the new Tomukun noodlebar on its first day of business. The staff: everyone is young and East Asian. The layout is quite open, but could easily it a lot more people. I noticed that it was open as I slowly down the sidewalk on Liberty -- Asians standing outside, looking at the menu in the window. Peering in the front door, I noticed that all the tables were filled with patrons -- almost all East Asian. Apparently, this place knows its clientele. Hopefully, too, then, it will cook for them, and not provide some sort of Americanized Asian food. Yet… perhaps opening the restaurant right at the end of the regular university term is not such a good idea, because, unless it is a hit with the locals, it will be a long, slow summer before the foreign students come back to town.
Still, as I am seated at the bar, I am looking down the line, to where the cooks are gathered around burners and pots of broth and hot water -- cooking the noodles as the orders come in. Perhaps, then, Ann Arborites will finally learn about the difference between "real" ramen and Maruchan instant. And for a cost of $9 for a bowl of what many Americans assume to be a college staple of MSG-laced dehydrated noodles , this will (in my opinion) take some retraining.
A bowl of the eponymous "Tomukun Ramen" has arrived. It's in a nice ceramic bowl; good shape and heft. The ingredients -- egg, pork, fish sticks, and vegetables -- all look well prepared. The broth is good, too: not too salty and not too much miso. Not like as what I've had when visiting family in Sapporo, Japan, but then again, not anyone can easily challenge the best in the league (and I can't afford spending thousands of dollars every time I want a really good bowl of ramen). Still, while not absolutely, positively, over-board sublime, it is definitely several significant grades above par (hey, my family's from Sapporo -- that place knows how to make a good bowl of ramen).
The noodles: very tasty, indeed. Phew! A relief. Not at all like the cheap dehydrated Maruchan; so many worlds different, in fact, that one should not compare the two. Doing so would be like comparing a communist-era Dacia with a modern-day Volkswagen: true, both are cars, but that's where the similarity ends.
I sincerely hope that Tomukun stays open, especially if they don't change the quality of their dishes (and if all the other dishes are as tasty as their main ramen). Furthermore, since they are located so conveniently close to the ELI, I can imagine myself coming here quite often. (I hope they have lunch prices, because otherwise I can also imagine myself easily busting my weekly food budget.)