Friday, April 7, 2017

Squid Eats: Gaku Ramen

My eternal search for the perfect Ramen shop continues.  Burlington's latest is Gaku Ramen, a hip and sophisticated looking establishment on Church Street.  They're working hard for an authentic atmosphere, the staff yelling "Irrashaimase!" as customers enter, their enthusiasm undercut somewhat by their awkward gaijin pronunciation.  The decor is sort of Pan Asian, including some interesting photos: an Osaka street scene and hyper-magnified noodles.  Anime play on TV screens above the bar, frequently distracting my dining companions.

The food is nice.  We've been, I think, three times now and I've found my go-to order: spicy tonkotsu (slightly funky transliteration - one normally sees the second o as an a but perhaps this suits the Vermont accent better).  I've grown to enjoy spicy ramen in general, something I never experienced in Japan.  The Japanese don't really go in for peppers the way other Asian cultures do. Fusion can certainly be tasty.  I practically licked my bowl clean.

The Burlington location is the first step in a broader mission.  The owners envision more franchises in more New England college towns.  Despite honest efforts, I would say the restaurant falls well short of authentic.  But it's good anyway.