There's nothing quite like a steaming hot bowl of ramen to beat the winter blues (or your hangover, for that matter). The quick-cooking noodles—generally served in a broth with meat and vegetables and beloved by budget-conscious college students everywhere—always satisfy in a pinch. Plus, they pack serious flavor, too, especially when topped with something other than the requisite seasoning packet.
We asked Tokyo-born chef Takayuki Watanabe, co-owner of the recently opened Mr. Taka noodle shop in N.Y.C.'s Lower East Side, for his go-to recipe, and it's a clear upgrade from the usual instant version. "Ramen is not just soup—it's an experience for the mind and body," he tells InStyle. "With this particular recipe, we wanted to combine light flavors in a clean broth with a dash of ginger for a hint of subtle spiciness." Read on for the full breakdown, and happy slurping.
Sesame Chicken Ramen
For the broth
1 lb chicken breast
4 cups water
4 slices of fresh ginger
1 oz sake
1 tsp salt
1 hefty tsp Usukuchi soy sauce
1/3 tbsp fresh ground ginger
For the toppings
1 lb chicken
2 handfuls of sliced leek
1/3 tsp salt
2 pinches of black better
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp Usukuchi soy sauce
Chopped red pepper for garnish
For the noodles
Thin Japanese noodles (available at sunrisemart-ny.com)
1. Boil chicken and water for 15 minutes on medium flame. Add sliced ginger and keep boiling.
2. Remove chicken and ginger slices, set aside for later.
3. Add sake, salt, ground ginger and Usukuchi soy sauce into broth. Keep boiling on low flame.
4. To make the topping, thinly slice the chicken breast, place in a medium bowl, add Usukuchi soy sauce, salt, black pepper, and sesame oil. Mix well.
5. In a separate pot, place Japanese noodles into boiling water and cook for 35 seconds. Stir frequently to prevent sticking. Drain.
6. Prepare bowl, add broth, then noodles. Place toppings on the middle. Garnish with chopped red pepper. Serve immediately.