By Chi Onyeka
For starters, I wasn’t able to go to Tono Sushi because my school forced me to be there on the one Saturday that I would be able to go to a ramen shop for the first time, with the rest of the class. I know. Sucks right? On the brighter side of things, Sally, our program coordinator, offered a complimentary class trip to a ramen restaurant near our class. I was too excited to hear this news, but some of the students didn’t come, making it a sort of class trip.
So we didn’t go to the ramen shop right away. We stopped by Hana (はな) market and picked up things we would need for our Sakura matsuri, or cherry blossom festival booth. While in there, I got to explore and see more of what they have and asked the lovely Eshita-sensei, our Japanese teacher, to help me figure out what items were that were written in kanji. Then.. I came up with the idea that I should ask the cashier where the seaweed was in Japanese. So with the help of Eshita-sensei, I found out how to say seaweed in Japanese and proceeded to the cashier’s desk. I knew I wasn’t in the wrong for this because I’ve heard the employees there speaking Japanese among themselves, so it wasn’t like I was assuming their nationality by speaking Japanese instead of English. And it worked! She showed me where the seaweed was and I looked at the prices and were pretty satisfied since I’m currently planning to make my own onigiri once I get the money (and time) to do so. When we were leaving, Eshita-sensei gave us all newspapers in Japanese. After Hana market, we walked to the ramen shop called: Sakuramen.
Once we got to Sakuramen, we stood outside for a bit, waiting for seats suitable for all of us. We were told to go in and examine the place just to get a look of what we might have to experience, being in the ramen shop. I got to go in first and I noticed that there were mainly people in groups of three or four and the music was fairly loud. And if I’m remembering correctly, the bottom half was dimly lit but it suure did smell good in there! Because we were a large group of people, we ate on the upper half where it was quieter and less crowded. The music was faint and we all got a pretty decent time to order. I ordered gojiramen which was pork, bamboo, onion sprouts, and a thick noodle all drenched in chicken broth. It was very very good and I’d definitely revisit on my own or with a friend. On the way home, when I told my mom what was in the ramen bowl, she was so surprised that I ate bamboo and asked all these questions along with telling me to google nutritious facts about bamboo just to know how healthy bamboo is (yeah, my mom hovers over my diet like that). The thing is, there are so many species of bamboo and I didn’t know which one I ate so I couldn’t just google bamboo and find out “hey! It has a lot of calcium” or something like that, so to calm her down, I told her that bamboo is a multipurpose plant, that I’m pretty sure is good for you.
The trip to Sakuramen was definitely a memorable experience as it was my first time going to a ramen shop. Of course the whole class didn’t go, and I couldn’t order in Japanese, it wasn’t make it as memorable as Tono Sushi would have been, but it made up for my absence. And since the ramen was very oishii, it was totally worth the experience and I would definitely do it again.