I have no excuse for taking so long to write about this glorious ramen bowl. The soup had been recommended to me numerous times, but the chatter only got louder when I laid into Private Social's version a whole back. So I ducked in Tei-An for a late meal after the lunch rush had died down.
My ramen came fast: a bowl adorned with seaweed, green onions and bamboo shoots filled with a steaming, murky broth that kept secrets. I added a little white pepper from a blue cardboard container and then drizzled red chili oil that quickly reduced from a zig-zag of scarlet to droplets the size of tobiko roe before it disappeared altogether, leaving a dusky piquancy in its wake.
It was so hot I had to wait a while, indulging tiny clumps of rice topped with tuna salad like sushi. Then I commenced slurping, still burning my tongue but saving that massive hunk of fatty roast pork for the last few bites.
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Te-An's ramen is a work of art. The broth is simple and tastes like earnest effort. The noodles are cooked to an al dente chewy texture, and the embellishments are placed in the bowl with care. Even the environment that backs the soup is a pleasure.
My waitress was perfect. She politely took my order, and her work was marked with polish and poise, from the quarter turn on a beer bottle so the label faced forward to the slightest bow after delivering my check.
The dining room was quiet on my visit, with only four other diners and a soft and reverent throb of house music murmuring in the background. It felt like chef Teiichi Sakurai was cooking just for me, and it only set me back $9.95