Powered by Blogger.

pop up, chow down and sin

We went to the Hapa Ramen pop-up tonight at Bar Tartine.

As a result, I am in a partial food coma and am having trouble doing things like buttoning my pants all the way and expressing myself in a manner that doesn't involve small burps and sighs. So please forgive me if this post wanders all over the place.

Before I launch into a description of the meal, I want to say this: Pop-ups are really cool. This was the first one I've ever experienced, and it was great. Bar Tartine is normally closed Mondays, making tonight the perfect time for Hapa Ramen's Richie Nakano and crew to transform the restaurant into noodle central. They had their own reservation line, they brought in their own bowls and chopsticks, and even the servers said, "Welcome to Hapa Ramen!" when you walked through the door. So cool that Bar Tartine was so generous with their space!

We started with the pig face. Yes, that's right. A piece of pig head cut out and served with salad, pickled apples and mustard seeds.

Clearly, this is not vegetarian. I justified it by telling myself that if pigs had to die to make the pork in the ramen, then we should probably eat as much of those pigs as possible and not let any of that meat go to waste, thereby honoring the pigs for their death. The pig face was good -- fatty, but good. (Although I will admit to feeling extreme guilt after about two bites. I kept remembering these guys, and then I kind of wanted to weep. And then I started thinking about how if pig faces are fatty, they must age better than humans and this is why people need Botox, so maybe we should take a cue from pigs and have fatter faces. In short, Todd had to eat most of the pig face.)

We also had fried brussels sprouts. I don't know what kind of dressing was on these babies, but they were out-of-control good. (Also, no one's face was involved.)

And then there was the ramen. Hapa Ramen is the only restaurant (or food purveyor or ramen provider or whatever you want to call this pop-up experience) I've come across so far in my ramen quest that actually has a genuine, 100 percent vegetarian ramen on their menu -- no meat in the broth, no meat in the bowl, no meat anywhere. And the veggie ramen option changes -- tonight's broth was pumpkin (and the server said last week's pop-up had celery root).

I went for it.

It had tons of veggies -- seaweed, spinach, winter squash, more brussels sprouts -- to the point where it almost felt stew-like. And I really wanted to love it because it honestly was good, but I found myself staring across the table at Todd's bowl. He ordered the "Big Daddy" -- a giant bowl full of meaty broth with pork belly, shredded pork, fried chicken and a soft, melty egg. He said it was even fattier and more decadent than the ramen he had at Daikokuya.

And I was jealous. The veggie ramen just couldn't compare.

So now I find myself in a conundrum. Is there no way to love ramen and be vegetarian? Am I always going to be at odds with myself?

(Also, the cold I came down with last week has morphed into a hacking cough, which has totally derailed my running plans. So now I am a sinful, fat, failed vegetarian who barely managed to run a mile today. But perhaps that is another story for another time. Now pardon me while I slip into some elastic-waist pajama bottoms.)

No comments