During the blistering summer months, a steaming hot bowl of ramen isn’t exactly the dish that most Houstonians crave. Fortunately, Ramen Tatsu-Ya’s spicy chilled ramen is on offer for noodle enthusiasts to get their fix all summer long.
Considering the explosion of ramen in Texas over the past decade or so, Tatsu-Ya owner Tatsu Aikawa and his brother Shion, who serves as the restaurant group’s director of operations, were surprised that chilled noodles didn’t have a prominent place on ramen menus. “This dish is based on a dish we grew up eating, hiyashi chuka, which is a Japanese summertime staple,” Aikawa says. “Summers in Japan can get brutal as well, so Mom would serve cold ramen noodles with acidic sauces and fresh cut greens for lunch after a day of playing in the sun.”
Thus, the Austin export’s spicy chilled ramen was born. Even though this dish is missing the unctuous broth that most people associate with this beloved Japanese classic, it’s still perfectly satisfying thanks to its fresh, springy noodles, spicy ground pork, and soy-boiled egg. “It turns out that what we grew up eating and what Texans want to eat in the summer translates well,” Aikawa says. “The fact that the dish is served chilled makes it a perfect fit for one-hundred-degree-plus days.”
Take a look at the process behind this perfect summer dish courtesy of Eater photographer Caroline Fontenot.
The dish begins as freshly-boiled noodles, served ice cold, are tucked into a nest of fresh lettuce and tossed with ponzu sauce.
Next, a scoop of Tatsu-Ya’s pirikara pork, spiced with tobanjan (a tangy, spicy Japanese chile sauce) is piled on top of the noodles along with ajitama, or a soy-marinated soft boiled egg. Cucumbers and summer tomatoes add extra freshness.
Then, one side of the bowl is hit with a swipe of spicy karashi, a Japanese mustard. Aikawa describes its heat as “wasabi-level,” which means that spice-averse diners should stir the karashi in judiciously.
Finally, the ramen’s biggest punch of heat comes from a drizzle of chili oil, infused with guajillo, Thai, and ancho chiles, along with a secret blend of Japanese aromatics that round out the flavor.
Behold, the finished product, served with a Kyuri Kup cocktail. The drink is a mix of sake, fresh citrus, and cucumber cores repurposed from the spicy chilled ramen.