Orenchi: Ramen So Good, You’ll Forget You’re in Silicon Valley

We showed up to this crappy little Silicon Valley strip mall in Santa Clara on a Tuesday at 11:30 AM on a lunchtime mission. Sure enough there was already a congregation of hungry and anxiously waiting patrons lined up out the door frothing at the mouth. But, I pushed my way to the front of the waiting room and successfully added my name on the handwritten list for my group of four. Why would I endure this kind of brutality on my lunch break? For ramen, of course – reputedly the best the Bay Area has to offer at that. Orenchi Ramen‘s reputation clearly preceded itself, but I was ready to experience it for myself.

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Got the Munchies? Get Chicken Fingers at Sticky’s Finger Joint in Greenwich Village

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This isn’t the first time I’ve written about this stretch of NYC on 8th Street between 6th Avenue and Broadway. More and more interesting eateries keep popping up like the Persian coffee shop Cafe Nadery and the upscale date night destination Greenwich Project.

Nestled amongst the many restaurants on this burgeoning food mecca is Sticky’s Finger Joint. This small shop has been open for well over a year, but I finally got around to stopping in. I don’t know what held me back all this time. Maybe it was the less than friendly and downright befuddling behavior I had read online about the owner.

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Solid Bowls of Ramen & Other Japanese Pub Food near Port Authority at Tabata Ramen

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Hell’s Kitchen, well not really. That chunk of New York City on 9th Ave. between 34th and 42nd tucked away behind Penn Station and Port Authority. It remains one of the seediest corners of the city even after the much publicized Giuliani and Bloomberg crackdowns on the lesser loved aspects of NYC. It’s not often that I find myself in that god-forsaken corner of town, but since I was there, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to check out the ramen and other Japanese pub food at the nearby Tabata Ramen outpost.

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Excellent Fried Chicken and Ramen at Maru Ichi in Mountain View
Excellent Fried Chicken and Ramen at Maru Ichi in Mountain View, CA

Excellent Fried Chicken and Ramen at Maru Ichi in Mountain View

By this point I think I’ve proven that I’m passionate about ramen. My time in NYC has given me plenty of opportunities to learn what I love and what makes a great bowl. So now that I’m spending most of my time in Silicon Valley, there’s no reason not to hunt for that perfect bowl out here as well.

Since I’m working in Sunnyvale and Mountain View is a short eight minute drive from the office, that always seems like an obvious and easy choice for a post-work meal. Feeling a bit ill and in need of a great bowl of curative soup, I decided to find a good ramen joint in town. After a bit of research, I decided on a shop called Maru Ichi which sounded like it would serve exactly what I needed.

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It’s All About the Honey Sauce at Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken

In NYC, the Blue Ribbon brand has turned into a veritable mini-chain with restaurants spanning a variety of cuisines and levels of formality including high-end sushi, casual southern-influenced cuisine, and a modern American brasserie. Possibly the most hype has been about their very popular Brooklyn Bowl location, where they serve an array of fast casual pub food to the bowling masses.

At Brooklyn Bowl, people go absolutely crazy for the fried chicken. This exact chicken recipe from that menu has since become the primary focus of the Blue Ribbon empire’s latest spin-off, Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken. This East Village spot opened to a ton of press and buzz, so my expectations were understandably set high.

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Mike Winston’s Best Bites of 2013

Given the number of insanely delicious things I’ve eaten over the past year, selecting the best of the bunch is a very difficult task. Over on Foodspotting I’ve released a long version that’s over 200 items long which includes every single dish jaw-dropping dish from the last year. Here, instead, I’ve chosen the very best in select categories. In no particular order, let’s begin!
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Seriously Good, Cheap Fried Chicken at Dirty Bird To-Go in NYC
Dirty Bird To-Go Review

Seriously Good, Cheap Fried Chicken at Dirty Bird To-Go in NYC

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In TriBeCa, nearly invisible, tucked away under some construction scaffolding on Chambers Street for as long as I can remember, you’ll find some of the best and most reasonably priced fried chicken in NYC. This is no dive. It’s a very well designed, polished space that feels like they should be charging double what they are. This is one of the those gems that feels like such a deal and nearly the entire menu is excellent.

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Come for the Tea, Stay for the Savory Snacks at ViVi Bubble Tea in NYC

For over three years I have been lucky enough to work within walking distance of Chinatown. I’ve done my fair share of exploration and feel like I have a handle on most of the options. Every now and then I find something really unexpected. On this occasion, I was wandering around the streets of Chinatown deciding what I should have for lunch and when I decided to try something new on a hunch. Inside of an unassuming bubble tea shop on Bayard Street there are signs advertising some non-bubble tea offerings. Who would dare eat lunch at a bubble tea shop? This guy.

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