After discovering a new Japanese restaurant in my neighborhood, I found a new obsession. I rarely visit restaurants as often as I did this particular one but I visited Rutsu 18 in Alhambra at least once a week. Unlike other ramen restaurants, this one served almost all of my favorite Japanese dishes in one spot including, cold ramen salads, sushi rolls, various appetizers such as takoyaki and even hwe dub bab (a deconstructed sushi rice bowl). I have tried almost every item on the menu but one of my favorites is the hiyashi chuka, a cold ramen noodle salad. Topped with roasted chicken, ham, egg, cucumber, tomato, pickled ginger and finished with a soy dressing, this dish is light but incredibly satisfying. Here is my version using soba noodles to make the dish just a tad healthier.
- 4 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- 6 ounces soba (buckwheat noodles)
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup bean sprouts, blanched
- 1 small Persian cucumber, cut into strips
- 2 ounces roasted chicken, shredded
- 2 ounces smoked ham, cut into strips
- 1 tomato, cut into wedges
- beni shoga (pickled red ginger) for garnish
- nori strips for garnish
- karashi mustard (hot mustard), optional
- Whisk together ingredients for sauce (soy sauce - sesame seeds) in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse in cold water.
- Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat. Add 1 tsp oil. Whisk the egg and pour into the pan, spreading the egg in an even thin layer, similar to a crepe. Remove from heat and cut the egg into thin strips.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the bean sprouts and blanch for 30 seconds. Remove from heat, drain and rinse in cold water.
- Arrange the plates. Place the noodles in the center and arrange the chicken, ham, egg, cucumber, tomato and bean sprouts around the soba. Top the noodles with the pickled red ginger and nori strips. Pour dressing on top right before serving and mix with hot mustard if using.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
Okay so I mentioned that Rutsu 18 has almost all of my favorite Japanese dishes, all but one, soba! Soba is buckwheat noodles that are served cold with a dipping sauce on the side. To many it may seem bland but I grew up on the noodles and still have a soft spot for them. To combine two of my favorites into one, I used the buckwheat noodles in place of the ramen noodles.
You can be creative with the toppings but chicken, ham and egg are standard toppings for the traditional version. I’ve seen some with bell peppers, others with carrots, but my favorite combination of vegetables is blanched bean sprouts, fresh tomato wedges and sliced cucumber.
The sauce is a soy based dressing that is lighter on the oil than regular salad dressings. Serve the sauce on the side, drizzling it on top right before eating. If you like some heat, add hot mustard to the dish – be warned, a little goes a long way.
Now that I can make this dish at home, Rutsu 18 may not be seeing me as often! Hiyashi chuka for lunch everyday!
If you enjoyed this dish, check out the Chinese version of cold noodles. The toppings are practically identical but this version uses a sesame based dressing – equally delicious, I promise!
Looking for someone to come to your house and prepare these dishes for you? It is possible! If you are in Los Angeles and looking for a private chef, please feel free to contact me. For more information, visit Private Kitchen Los Angeles.