the invisible restaurant critic
the invisible restaurant critic
Anne Fishbein

Ask Mr. Gold: Yuzu Ramen + Purple Foods
 That Start With "Q"

Dear Mr. Gold:

I'm a raw vegan who eats nothing but purple foods starting with the letter Q. Can you recommend a good steakhouse for me?

--Robyn Brown, via Facebook

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Dear Ms. Brown:

A lot of quinoa is purple, or at least a passable purplish red. Akasha and Fig both have excellent steamed red-quinoa dishes, so a plate of raw, sprouted quinoa may be within their reach. Quinoa quenelles? It could be done! Both Fig and Akasha have excellent steaks, which they also may be persuaded not to cook, although from what I gather you won't be eating them anyway. And when quetches, which is to say sugarplums or Italian prune-plums, come into season toward the end of summer, which is when these farmers market-oriented kitchens will have them on hand, you'll have a dessert course, too.

Dear Mr. Gold:

Yuzu is so gimmicky these days that I've been served it shaved onto everything from my pre-dinner cocktail, to sushi, to dessert. But I can't find the one yuzu dish I'm really craving: Ramen. Ramen with yuzu is pretty ubiquitous in Tokyo, but none of the usual suspects in L.A. seem to serve it. Is there anywhere I can go that won't involve a ticket on All Nippon?

--Robyn Brown

Dear Ms. Brown:

I will admit: I'd never heard of yuzu ramen. But a condiment called yuzu kosho is advertised in the window of all the Shin Sen Gumi restaurants -- the hakata-style ramen parlors -- of course, but also the yakitori joints for which this mighty paste of green chile and yuzu zest is optimized, and they'll sell you a little jar of it for $7. It's apparently too expensive to give away. Put a bit of this in your ramen, which is already so good at Shin Sen Gumi, and the noodles practically detonate -- their yuzu kosho is total umami crack, a wondrous substance that probably would improve everything from cupcakes to filet mignon: tart, bitter, fragrant, salty, pungent, spicy, sweet; the universe in a dab of green goo. I'd brush my teeth with it, if I had a chance. Yuzu kosho was so good in the ramen that I've already started to formulate a plan to smuggle jars into various restaurants -- Santouka, Father's Office, Red Medicine, maybe even Animal -- just to watch the hijinks ensue.


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