rank city | ramen edition: Rishi

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The third stop in rank city: ramen edition was Rishi for some lunchtime ramen. Turns out Rishi was pretty dead during a weekday lunch hour. Maybe downtown folks don’t realize it’s open or they just don’t like ramen. Rishi has been open for a few years now and offers ramen, sushi, and…burgers? I recommend just sticking with the ramen.

What we ordered: Edamame hummus, pork ramen, chicken ramen.

Appetizer: The appetizer options are pretty limited at lunch. We went with the edamame hummus, which cost $7.95. It wasn’t a bad snack, but was pretty bland and underwhelming for being $8. Score:  2.5 IMG_0233Broth: Rishi’s pork ramen comes with their “house broth,” and it is one of my favorite things that I’ve eaten in Columbus. It is so rich and has a depth of flavor that leaves you very satisfied and full. It has the right level of fattiness without being one-note. Luckily for you, the chicken ramen also comes with the “house broth.”  Score: 4.5IMG_0235

Protein: I am a big fan of Rishi’s serving of shredded pork in their ramen. I know a slice of pork belly is more traditional, but the shredded pork is simply easier to eat. Not to mention it has a great flavor and texture. The egg rivaled Meshikou’s in its perfection; wonderfully gelatinous. I know that is a ridiculous way to describe an egg, but you guys don’t understand how much I love a perfectly cooked egg (and hate an overcooked one). Sadly, the chicken was not as delicious as the pork and grew a bit chewy the longer it sat in the broth. Score: 4IMG_0241Noodles: Rishi’s noodles are good but I would prefer them slightly more al dente. They tend toward sogginess by the end of the meal if you are a slow eater like me.  Score: 3.5IMG_0238Environment/Service: Our server was very attentive and didn’t seem to mind that we were in a bit of rush. Rishi markets itself as hip and elegant, and for the most part, they accomplish that. The decor is clean without feeling sparse. Someone (I suspect sneakily) played Jay Z’s “Holy Grail” (feat Justin Timberlake), so I can’t fully agree with the categorization of Rishi as an elegant restaurant. I love you, Jay, but we all know Magna Carta…Holy Grail was trash. Score: 4

Affordability: Lunch prices are a little lower than dinner, and the ramen came in at $10.95 (pork) and $9.95 (chicken). With the hummus, the total came to $31.01, which is a little steep for lunch. But that broth is so damn good, it’s hard to be too upset. And to be honest, I’m not even sure the lunch portion is smaller. Score: 3.5

Overall thoughts: I’ve been to Rishi multiple times and I’ve tried the sushi and some apps and observed others eating the burgers, but truly, the ramen is where it’s at. They definitely force the vibe there and would benefit from relaxing a bit, but their pork ramen is a delicious success. Sadly, we did not receive the wooden Gandalf-sized spoons that I’ve come to expect (maybe they are reserved for dinner?), but I am a big fan of the stone bowls, which keep the ramen piping hot. I always feel full and satisfied after eating a bowl of Rishi ramen, whether at lunch or dinner. Skip the $8 appetizer to have a very affordable meal, especially for lunch.

Total score: 22, plus 1.5 bonus points for portion size. 23.5.

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It’s been a long, a long time coming

“A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke

I was born by the river in a little tent
Oh and just like the river I’ve been running ever since
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

It’s been too hard living but I’m afraid to die
Cause I don’t know what’s up there beyond the sky
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

I go to the movie and I go downtown
Somebody keep telling me don’t hang around
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

Then I go to my brother
And I say brother help me please
But he winds up knockin’ me
Back down on my knees
There been times when I thought I couldn’t last for long
But now I think I’m able to carry on

It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

I’ve been singing this all morning, trying to calm and comfort myself.

It’s too hard to both go to sleep and wake up to more death and more injustice. I didn’t want to watch the video of Alton Sterling being shot to death. I didn’t need to watch the video to know that he was murdered. But I saw a few seconds of it by accident as I scrolled through Instagram this morning.

Those few seconds were enough to sere the image into my mind. Tonight I will fall asleep with that image, and tomorrow I will wake up with that image. And I will be afraid for my friends, and for my family, and for their children. And I will not know how to reconcile the fact that I don’t have to be afraid for myself.

But I will be your brother, and I will not knock you down when you come to me, and I will not turn you away when you come to me. And I hope you will teach me better ways to be for you, and together we will do more than hope that a change is gonna come.

rank city: ramen edition | Tensuke 3/20/16

candyThe second stop in rank city: ramen edition was Tensuke Market for some Palm Sunday ramen. Tensuke might be one of my favorite places in Columbus. It’s an authentic Japanese market full of inexpensive produce, sushi-grade fish, 20 lb bags of rice, and racks and racks of weird candy. It also has a dining area where you can get sushi, soups, and other fast Japanese foods.

What we ordered: Steamed pork dumplings, karaage, tonkatsu ramen with pork tenderloin, miso ramen with spicy kimchi pork

Appetizer: The appetizers are not the main appeal at Tensuke, but I have no restraint when it comes to dumplings. The gyoza had a nice filling of pork and spices, but were a bit underwhelming. Same goes for the karaage. They weren’t as light and crispy as Meshikou’s, but still offered a nice start to the meal. For both appetizers, we mixed up our own dipping sauces. This is a pretty key part of dining at Tensuke; you get/need to mix up your own concoction of soy sauce, chili oil, sriracha, and whatever else is available to add to your meal. Score: 3IMG_0384

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Broth: Tensuke has a pretty big variety of choices for broth and protein, but I felt I had to go with the tonkatsu broth for authenticity’s sake. Sadly, it was a pretty plain backbone for my ramen, and needed to be dressed up with the aforementioned Japanese condiments. But, the miso/kimchi combination needed no dressing up. I was surprised by the layers of flavor present in the miso broth, and the kimchi kicked up the spice level perfectly. Score: We scored the tonkatsu a 3 and the spicy kimchi a 4, for an average of 3.5

Protein: Because Tensuke is designed to be a fast dining experience, I don’t think they’re as concerned with sending out perfectly executed 6 minute eggs. However, nothing is sadder than an overcooked egg, and I’m tearing up just thinking about that solid yolk. While the pork tenderloin was not as memorable, the spicy pork in our miso ramen was very flavorful and a nice addition to the bowl. Score: 3IMG_0383

Noodles: Quantity over quality may be the case for Tensuke’s noodles. They are undoubtedly better than your average Top Ramen noodles, but didn’t quite reach that chewy noodle nirvana. There did, however, seem to be a never ending supply coming from my bowl. Score: 3.5

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My proudest dining moment.

Environment/Service: I’ve never been to Japan, but I would guess Tensuke feels the most authentic of all the Columbus Japanese restaurants. You order and pick up your food at the counter, but the service is fast and friendly. It’s typically a bustling place, with shoppers and families with little kids all waiting for their turn at a table. But there is no edging out other diners with side eye or loud harrumphing. We went on a busy Sunday afternoon and were happy to wander the aisles of the grocery side while we waited for a table. Score: 4.5

Affordability: Two appetizers and two bowls of ramen came to $24.56. Almost felt like stealing. Score: 4.5

Overall thoughts: I love Tensuke, so it was hard to give middling scores in many of the categories. It’s designed to be a fast, casual dining experience but not in the Chipotle way. Their food and products are very good, but finesse is not the name of their game. While it won’t satisfy any fine dining desires, Tensuke is a particularly great lunch spot with excellent prices and generous portions.

Total score: 22, plus 1 bonus point for being featured on Morning Edition and another for how fun it is to say “Tensuke.” 24.

rank city: ramen edition | Meshikou 3/18/16

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The first stop in rank city: ramen edition was Meshikou. Meshikou opened in 2014 and like most good Asian restaurants, it’s located in a strip mall, sandwiched between a popcorn store and a poker club. Also there is a hockey store, because those are a thing.

What we ordered: Meshikou Karaage, Barbecue Chashu Bun, Shoyu Paitan Ramen with pork tenderloin

Appetizer: The Barbecue Chashu Bun (pork belly steam buns) and Meshikou Karaage (Japanese fried chicken) were a great start to our meal. I’ve had some misses with pork belly in the past, so am always a bit hesitant with the first bite. The pork belly had a very tasty barbecue glaze and was cooked nicely. The fatty parts weren’t gristly or chewy, which is always my fear with pork belly. The buns were slightly overdressed with lettuce; we would have been happy with just a few cucumber slices to add coolness and crunch.

I was a big fan of the karaage. Asian fried chicken, whether Japanese or Korean, is proving to be one of my favorite styles. The breading was light and crispy while the meat was still very moist and juicy. It also came with a tasty tangy sauce, and in a cute miniature fryer basket. I haven’t eaten KFC since my whole family got food poisoning when I was 10, but in the words of one diner/boyfriend, “This is like popcorn chicken for royalty.” Score: 4IMG_0214

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Broth: Sadly, Meshikou no longer makes pork broth. Based on Yelp comments, they don’t think they can get enough quality pork to make their broth, which is hard to believe IMO, but whatevs. Instead, their ramen is served with a chicken broth. You can choose a milky or clear broth, but who wants clear broth with ramen?  I was surprised by how good the chicken broth was, but it just didn’t reach the depth that tonkatsu (pork) broth gets. Score: 3.5ramen bowl

Protein: We went with pork tenderloin in the ramen because we were already having pork belly in the steam buns. The tenderloin was cooked nicely and soaked up a lot of flavor from the broth. The egg was cooked pretty perfectly for ramen. Firm white with a viscous yolk. Egg yolk is the best condiment/sauce you could put on anything, and this one did not disappoint. Score: 4

Noodles: We had heard that Meshikou uses the same ramen noodles as David Chang, so we had high expectations. The noodle rumors are unconfirmed, but these were delicious, in any case. Perfectly chewy and dense without being too al dente. Score: 4.5

Environment/Service: I was expecting Meshikou to be more crowded on Friday night, but we were seated immediately. There were only big tables open, so we sat at the bar. I don’t always enjoy eating at the bar, but in this case it was comfortable. All of our plates and bowls (for splitting the ramen) were warmed, which is a major point-scorer for me. There’s nothing worse than having hot food served on a cold plate. Our server was great–nice and attentive but not chatty. We also heard two Whitney songs while there, so points for that. Score: 4

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Affordability: The two appetizers and one bowl of ramen clocked in at $27. Not a bad price for two people to eat dinner, but we did only have one bowl of ramen. Score: 3.5

Overall thoughts: This was my first trip to Meshikou. After reading the Yelp reviews and learning they no longer had pork broth, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was surprised by the good flavor of the chicken broth, but it didn’t hit the ramen expectations I had in mind. I never got the sated feeling that deep, fatty, super flavorful pork broth offers. Which also meant I didn’t feel that full, despite eating half of everything I described. The ramen also cooled down rather quickly; I think it was served in a plastic bowl. I will definitely go back to Meshikou and try some more things, but will probably get my own bowl of ramen. They do not serve alcohol, but the cucumber water is a nice touch.

Total score: 23.5, plus 1 bonus point for the Japanese candy we got in lieu of fortune cookies. 24.5.

Stay tuned for the next ramen stop!

rank city: ramen edition

For the inaugural set of Rank City posts (in which I rank whatever I choose), I’ve decided to start with ramen. Columbus has a surprising amount of ramen restaurants; a new one even opened while I was working on these posts. If you never got on the David Chang train and to you, ramen costs .99 and tastes like MSG, you are depriving your tastes buds of an experience. While Columbus’ ramen may not rival Momofuku or the real deal in Japan, it’s worth checking out the varieties.

On to the fine print. I will rank the restaurants and their ramen on a 5 point scale for each of these categories:

  • Appetizer
  • Broth
  • Noodles
  • Protein
  • Environment/Service
  • Affordability

For a total high score of 30, plus any bonus points I want to throw in.

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Enjoy!

a few hot takes

I know, I know. My last post (the “I promise I’m going to start writing more” one) was four months ago, but then the holidays happened and I moved in with a man and it’s my blog so leave me alone.

Anyway, just stopping by to give a few hot takes.

On Bernie’s “white people don’t” answer:

Hopefully, you’ve recognized the glaring issues with describing all people of color as living in a ghetto. That is the biggest takeaway here. But the second issue for me is that his response is also clearly that of a white man. One of the things Bernie said was, “when you’re white…you don’t know what it’s like to be hassled when you walk down the street.”

ERRRRRR (BREAKS SQUEAL) WHAAAAAAT????

I definitely know what it’s like to be hassled when I walk down the street, and I guarantee ALL of my female friends do too. And some of them also know what it’s like to be hassled by cops as we walk down the street or get pulled over.

That was a hot mess of a response from Bernie, and I’m sure it wasn’t thought through, just like I’m pretty sure he’s not racist or sexist, buuuut, I’m voting for Hillary.

On International Women’s Day (sort of):

My company tried to do some cool stuff for IWD, which is encouraging because women in tech go so unnoticed. They asked female employees to send in questions to the female leaders of the company. Sounds pretty cool, right? One of the questions was, “what one piece of advice would you give to women aspiring to be leaders?” There were some good responses, but they were all dismantled by one too-long answer that was summed up in these two sentences:

To be respected, you have to be liked at some level. Figure out how to be someone that men want to be with, rely on, enjoy, trust and respect.

ARE YOU FUUUUCKING KIDDING ME???

I am so dissatisfied and frustrated by this statement and flat out reject it as advice. We are past the age of trying to fit ourselves in around the men in power, and we shouldn’t be advised to do so by other women. I know what it’s like to be the only female voice in a room full of men. I know we get called bossy when we have opinions. I know it’s tempting to appeal to what’s comfortable for men. But nothing will ever change if we keep on that way, and if women keep telling women to just get the men to like them.

On riding a bike:

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Yesterday was the first day that really felt like spring, and I let myself get talked into a 9 mile bike ride. Which I fully realize is not that far on a bike, but if you know me, it’s a pretty big deal. And now weird parts of my body hurt.

Also:

contentment: the ultimate writer’s block

You know how people tend to gain weight once they’re in a happy relationship? Or how Ryan Adams made bad music after he got sober?

Well, being content made me a neglectful writer.

I’ve wondered about this before. Do artists need to be depressed/angry/sad/hurt/high to make good art? I don’t think of my blog as being in the same category as your favorite album, favorite Impressionist painting, favorite novel. But, like so many artists, I do find that being in a particular mindset motivates me to write.

I want to approach my blog like work, so that I will be more disciplined and consistent, but I also want to give myself freedom. Because I do write for a living. It’s vastly different than what I write here, but it’s still writing. And writing is hard.

Recently, I was talking with a friend, who is a vastly better writer than I am, about writing and how I didn’t want to approach my blog like it’s a LiveJournal from 9th grade. But he argued for the diary approach to blogging and reminded me not to undervalue my experiences. He told me there will always be at least one person who relates to your story.

Then I listened to “Spill Your Guts”, an episode from The Allusionist, which is a podcast that I’m convinced was specifically designed for me to nerd out over grammar history lessons. The episode featured the guys from Mortified, and was about writing diary entries. They talked about the historical impact of diaries, as well as the funny patterns they’ve discovered: teenagers using LOL in their diaries, people assigning gender to their diaries, or addressing them with only Russian names. But also the importance of a diary as personal memoir.

So, why am I rambling about diaries and art and how writing is hard (boo hoo)? I’m getting there.

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If we aren’t real-life friends, or just haven’t spoken in the past year, you are probably wondering what led to the contented non-writing phase. And the main thing is I’m in this awesome, healthy relationship. That’s definitely not the only thing (because you don’t have to be in a relationship to be happy). I’m also excelling at my good (but boring) job, get to see my family more, have awesome friends, love living alone, and have a cat who stopped shitting on all my stuff (mostly).

But that relationship thing. When people ask how it’s going, I tell them, “I never knew what it was like to be in a relationship that didn’t feel like work most of the time. That was easy and loving and fun and meaningful.” This man is kind and lovable and he plays the fucking banjo. He doesn’t critique me or judge me. And when, early in our relationship, he asked if I wanted to come over and just read together, I thought, “THIS IS ALL I’VE EVER WANTED.”

He also encourages me to write.

So, I’m going to give myself the freedom to write some LiveJournaly posts, but will also commit to being more disciplined. In an effort to be more consistent, here are a few new “columns” I’m going to try:

  • Rank City, in which I rank whatever the fuck I want, such as stray cats
  • Beer/brewery reviews
  • Food/restaurant reviews (because I cannot keep reading the awful shit on Columbus Underground)
  • Book Reports, in which I write you a book report

And I will return to the music and feminist topics that weigh on my chest, making their presence known, much like Boo does after a long weekend away.

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music mondays: record store day

I will begin this post with an assessment (fine, judgment, whatever) of The types of buyers you may observe on Record Store Day:

Old dudes who are still kinda cool.
Probably bought: Phish New Years Eve 1995

Old dudes who live in basements and are hella creepy.
Probably bought: Metallica

Scene kids.
Probably bought: The White Stripes and secretly bought that Twenty Pilots album shaped like Ohio.

Clueless girl.
Probably Definitely bought: T Swift 1989 (I wanted to grab this from her hands and just say “NO. GO HOME.”)

Mid 30s single friends who are mostly concerned with where brunch will be later.
Probably bought: Built to Spill. The hip friend may have picked up Run The Jewels. The non-hip friend secretly bought Mumford and Sons.

Late 20s girl who came alone and is trying to discreetly eat a donut in line (AKA me)
Definitely bought: Otis Redding’s 50th Anniversary edition of Otis Blue, Ryan Adams 7 inch, and in a last minute decision, Dolly Parton’s bluegrass album.

rsdI’ve participated in Record Store Day in the past, but this was the first year I ended up waiting in a line, unexpectedly. I wanted Otis Blue and had plans at 10am, so decided I’d go to Spoonful Records in downtown Columbus before that. I knew Spoonful was having a food truck and giving away some stuff, but honestly, I didn’t expect the line around the corner that I found myself in at 9am. I (correctly) assumed they wouldn’t have many copies of Otis Blue (3, I think) and wanted to make sure I got one. Most likely, the three records I did buy would have been there on Sunday, but, it’s about the day, right?

The RSD anniversary edition of Otis Blue includes both mono and stereo LPs, and a replica-style 45 featuring “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” and “I’m Depending on You.” It rang in at $45, but because Otis and I have history, I shelled out. And I have no regrets. I heard the opening brass on “Ole Man Trouble” and knew I’d bought something special.

I don’t think I was born in the wrong decade in terms of musical taste. Because, while I love soul and Motown, I also love synth pop and hip hop, and in 2015, I get to have it all. But, what Record Store Day often does is give me a glimpse into what it was like to anticipate a new LP coming out–going down to your local record store and hoping they hadn’t sold out already. MP3s make everything instant, and we lose some of the magic when we don’t have to break the plastic seal on a new record. Vinyl might be a trend for some, but for the rest of us, it’s classic, and we’ll keep buying if you keep pressing.

breaking the cycle: thoughts on NYT “medicating women’s feelings” article

At the end of February, an op-ed came out in the New York Times called “Medicating Women’s Feelings.” You’ll probably want to read the article before continuing on. I’ll wait.

I’m so thankful for this article. Americans are scared to talk about mental health. I think many are also scared of women, especially “emotional” women, and I’m going to keep calling bullshit on that, as Julie Holland did.

“Women’s emotionality is a sign of health, not disease; it is a source of power. But we are under constant pressure to restrain our emotional lives.”

Women are told not to be so sensitive, then not to be so bubbly. At work, have original ideas but don’t be aggressive about them. It’s confusing. As for many women, learning to understand my emotions and the way the world thinks of them has been a journey. For a long time, I was terrible at thinking through the levels of my emotions and expressing them to the people around me. Honestly, I’m still not great at it sometimes *cue side-eye* but I’m learning that my emotions have value.

2011 was a difficult year for me. Through family moves, deaths, a breakup, and a job ending, I felt everything dear was being violently ripped away from me. I was left in a very dark place, where I was quick to snuff out any light, content to sit in the cage of sadness I had built for myself. Then, in 2012, after talking with my parents, friends, doctor, and counselor, I decided to begin a low-dose antidepressant in conjunction with counseling.

I didn’t tell too many people, even close friends, when I started taking an antidepressant. But, I’ve realized since then that it’s not something I want to keep in the dark. The dark is where shame lives and grows, and I am not ashamed of who I am or the steps I chose to take to become who I am.

In her article, Holland says that more women than men are prescribed “psychiatric medication” and “are nearly twice as likely to receive a diagnosis of depression or anxiety disorder than men are.” I hate that those statements are true, that too many women are being numbed by over-medication, labeled with a misdiagnosis, and separated from society in yet another way. And, at the same time, many women and men with mental health issues go un-diagnosed.

Medication isn’t always bad. I was happy with my decision to take an antidepressant; I believe it helped me function and made it easier to sort through all the emotions I had, instead of being weighed down by only feeling sadness. After a year, I began to wean off the antidepressant, and let me tell you, it’s hard to come off. But I wanted to be back in the world fully. I felt I had to re-train the parts of my brain that had been numbed for so long. I had to remember that extremes don’t have to be bad and that feeling deeply is one of the most human things about us.

“We need to stop labeling our sadness and anxiety as uncomfortable symptoms, and to appreciate them as a healthy, adaptive part of our biology.”

I believe Holland when she writes this. For me, medication was part of my journey to accepting my emotions, but it doesn’t have to be part of everyone’s experience. As women, we are emotional and sensitive beings, and it is a strength. Feeling is not weakness. Emotional responses are not weakness. They are human. They are vital.