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11 April 2018

tan tan a go-go at kanada-ya

i harp on a lot about my "diet" and how i choose to cook and eat now, since veganuary, and with the exception of a few slips, i have been mainly vegan-tarian for this whole year. *but* when this one invite hit my inbox recently, i knew it would have to be one of those very rare and very special occasions where i would throw my new diet out the window, and go for the meaty option. why? because when we're talking traditional japanese ramen, the only way to compare the newest kanada-ya restaurant's menu to that of the ramens i had in japan last year, was to order the same dish i had there. namely, the tan-tan.

the tan-tan we discovered in japan was a totally random find, and charlie said it best when she said it wasn't one we'd planned in advance, but one that totally paid off as one of the best dishes of the trip - if not the whole year. seriously, the dish we had in kyoto was just that good. so, kanada-ya had a lot to live up to, and the only way to compare it was to go for the spicy pork broth and mince option, and ask for forgiveness later (or not, because - well, because i do what i want, really). i asked for it with a side of yuzu sauce - which was totally uneccesary as the ramen was spicy e-damn-nough, and extra seaweed. why i asked for extra seaweed i will never know. maybe because i hoped it would come out in tempura batter like the kyotan dish did. it did not.

traditionally, tan-tan is supposed to be flavoured with sesame and a hint of chilli, but it was so damn spicy - so much that i was gulping glasses of water and delicious, peachy mio sparkling sake in between mouthfuls, trying to help the burning sensation go down while also trying to line my stomach with something other than chilli. it was hot, yes, but it was also verrrrrry tasty. the heat was a bit of a detraction from the taste, but maybe i'm just a wus. jasmin had the same dish as me and said hers wasn't as spicy as i was making mine out to be, and katy went for a tonkotsu option, which is naturally less spicy anyway. there were some differences between the benchmark tan-tan of that dish we fell in love with in kyoto and kanada-ya's version, namely: the pork mince wasn't grilled to the point of crunch like it was in japan, nor were the noodles as thick.

we had very thick, soba noodles in this dish on our trip, and it was garnished with tempura seaweed and asparagus, which was a lovely touch, so the presentation wasn't as compelling, but on the whole, an excellent version of a traditional staple. i think the next time i go i'll stick to the vegetarian option, then add some spice as i go, as i would have liked to have enjoyed my dish more by not being distracted by gulping water or blowing my nose in between mouthfuls of spicy broth. there are a load of rice dishes and onigiri too, so if noodles aren't your thing then there's definitely still something for you, though - as it's a ramen bar, i probably would advise you *don't* go if you're not a ramen fan. 

*our meals were complimentary, but all words are my own. find your local kanada-ya here.

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