Last week I was suffering from a pretty nasty cold. I sent out my newsletter, as I do every Monday, and mentioned that I was going to Roboto Jinya for ramen to cure myself with intensely porky broth. (This is possibly sacrilegious as any good Jew worth his kosher salt is meant to cure him or herself with chicken noodle soup; pork broth is a slap in Judaism’s face!) A reader named John responded that Judaism and Japan should be ignored in favor of Thailand: “Adam, for a cold you need some Thai chicken coconut soup. Works every time.”
I considered his advice which echoed especially loud because I live blocks away from Thai Town. I ultimately ignored it and went to Roboto Jinya as I intended and instead of ordering the same special pork broth that I ordered last time and that’s so intense they only make 20 servings a day (it’s no longer on the menu, apparently), I took the waitress’s advice and ordered a “Black Garlic Ramen” that sounded perfect for curing my ills:
As you can see, that’s an intense bowl of super rich, super healing pork broth enhanced with a generous pour of black garlic infused oil. On the side, an egg cooked in soy sauce. The egg made its way into the bowl and I gobbled up every last bite, convinced that within 12 hours I’d be as good as new.
The next day, still drippy-nosed, I decided to listen to my Thai-promoting reader: I went to Ruen Pair in Thai Town and ordered a bowl of Tom Kha Gai. For the inexperienced, that’s chicken soup flavored with coconut milk, ginger, lemongrass, and lime juice. When it came out, it was served in a giant ring with a burning flame at the center to keep the soup bubbling. Here it is, from a different angle:
Floating in there, amongst pieces of chicken, were whole mushrooms, big slivers of ginger (or was it galangal?), Kaffir lime leaves, pieces of lemongrass and cilantro. It was like the most healing bowl of chicken soup made even more healing with all that citrus flavor.
Was it more healing than the ramen at Roboto Jinya? Or, for that matter, more healing than the chicken noodle soup of my ancestors?
The short answer is: “Yes.” By the next day, I started feeling better. Thank you reader John for your suggestion; in the battle of cold-curing soups, Thailand wins.