Saturday, November 5, 2016

Chicken Ramen 101 @ Bantam King

*Sponsored Post
Bantam King will be offering their first "Chicken Ramen 101" - a lecture, demo, and tasting experience - beginning on Saturday, November 12, 2016. Featuring partners Executive Chef Katsuya Fukushima and Daisuke Utagawa (of Daikaya fame), the dynamic duo will continue to educate and satiate scores of ​ramen lovers by hosting the first round of classes in November, with additional dates to be announced in the near future.  I was invited to a sneak "slurp" preview and share my insider pictures below.

Priced at $35 per person (inclusive of tax and tip), each Chicken Ramen 101 experience at Bantam King lasts one hour from 10:00 am to 11:00 am. Guests are greeted with a detailed document providing them with the step-by-step process of making authentic Japanese chicken ramen, are invited to take a seat at the large communal table located directly in front of the open kitchen, and are then provided with an up close and personal history of chicken ramen including demos, and tastings.

The staff busy making fresh ramen bowls.
Although the Chicken Ramen 101 is not a traditional hands-on cooking class, the experience invites attendees to taste, touch, smell, listen, and learn as Chefs Fukushima and Utagawa demo each crucial step in the​ chicken ramen making process from creating the base for the broth, to the toppings, and even how to eat the signature noodle soup.

What I learned:
1. The name of the restaurant is a tongue-and-cheek play on the highlighted ingredient of chicken.  "Bantam" sounds like the Japanese word for boxing, and also refers to a beautiful breed of chicken that is raised as pets.  Plus, the restaurant's predecessor was Burger King, so they wanted to play off of that, which seems to still confuse local patrons to this day who come in looking for a cheeseburger.

Chef Fukushima sharing the secret ingredients of his Chintan stock.
2. There are 32 different regional ramens in Japan.  Here, they focus on chicken ramen - meaning the entire broth is made purely from chicken.  Other ramens may have beef and/or pork stocks, but not at Bantam King. Here, they like to keep #allthingschicken.

Top: The variations of stock from clear to dark, depending on the amount of tare added.
Middle: Fresh noodles are wavy, with slight yellow color, and should smell like bread.
Bottom: Menma (marinated bamboo shoots) and nitamago (egg) with naruto (fish cake).
3. Good ramen must be made-to-order and consists of 4 main steps: stock, tare (a thickener, often miso-based), noodles, and aromatic oil.  Additional toppings are not required, and are meant to merely enhance your bowl.

Chef Utagawa then demonstrated the proper way to eat ramen by first sipping the soup.  It should arrive piping hot, so you can blow on it first. Next, pull out and smell the noodle. "The aroma tells alot about the noodle."  Looking down, with your face over the bowl - slurp the noodle.  "The air brings out the taste."  Lastly, you can use your spoon to finish the broth.

At the end of each class, guests will enjoy a bowl of their favorite chicken ramen along with a complimentary soft drink.  I selected the Miso Ramen that comes with shredded chicken, dandelion greens (for contrasting bitterness), white onions, nitamago (egg), naruto (fish cake), chili threads (looks like saffron), and nori (seaweed). I enjoyed it with a can of cold Royal Milk Tea. Delish!

In order to ensure a personable experience, a maximum of 14 tickets are available per class at Bantam King.  Reservations are required to attend the class and can be secured by calling (202) 733-2612.  Participants will also walk away with a mini goody bag filled with Japanese treats and Bantam King-branded goodies.

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