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.
**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 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 every day!
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