Crowds gather early outside Totto Ramen in New York and by the time I took that picture I imagine the wait was an hour or longer. I like ramen as much as the next guy but I wouldn’t wait an hour for it. It’s a big bowl of soup with meat floating in it and noodles. I imagine a large majority of you shrinking back in horror at that sentence: “A big bowl of soup? With meat floating in it? And noodles? That’s like calling the Mona Lisa a bunch of oil paint slathered on a canvas!” Perhaps, but I understand why people line up to see the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, I don’t understand why people line up for ramen.
If we were playing a game called “Would That Be Delicious?” and you just started to name things–“chocolate dipped beets” (no), “lemon Parmesan chicken wings” (yes)–I have a feeling, for many, the response to “warm tofu” might be a resounding “blech.”
Warm tofu; may as well say “warm pudding” or “warm Jell-O.” All of those things sound terrible because all of those things are gelatinous; and we don’t like eating warm, gelatinous things, do we? And yet, last week, I returned to Robata Jinya (where I had my first L.A. ramen and loved it) and found myself eating the most alluring, most decadent dish I’ve had in a while–a dish of warm tofu.