At Petworth's Crane & Turtle, chef Makoto Hamamura is messing with one of the most sacred elements of the ramen bowl: the noodles. While other restaurants import or custom design their ramen noodles, Hamamura's aren’t actually noodles at all. Instead, he uses thinly sliced squiggles of pork cracklings. The broth is poured into the bowl in front of diners, causing the crunchy strips to uncurl like scrunched up paper straw wrappers exposed to water. I was skeptical about whether this gimmick would actually deliver an appealing texture. But once the pork cracklings have soaked up the broth, the consistency is surprisingly similar to that of al dente noodles. The dish is topped with poached oysters and pork cheek, which falls apart with only a gentle prod.
Crane & Turtle has branded itself as a French-Japanese restaurant, where you’ll find chopsticks and a bread basket on the same table. But Hamamura says it was actually a chicharrón taco from Mexican restaurant that inspired the dish. “They soak it in the sauce, and it’s not that crispy,” he explained to me upon the restaurant’s June opening. “I was like, ‘Ah this is a cool idea.’” Agreed.
Crane & Turtle, 828 Upshur St. NW; (202) 723-2543; craneandturtledc.com
Photo by Jessica Sidman