Ramen. The staple food for college students living on a budget.
But in recent years, the noodle craft has evolved out of plastic foam cups and into a delicate steamed broth packed with more flavor than you could ever get packaged.
The soup delight is found at Kamisama Ramen in northwest Bakersfield. If you’re on the prowl to have “real” ramen for the first time, this is the place to visit. If you’re undecided about what to order, owner Mike Yang and his staff are experts and can recommend something to your liking.
Vegetable and tofu ramen ($8):
Can we just take a moment and admire the array of bright colors of fresh vegetables in this hot, steamy bowl? If you’re ever feeling under the weather, this vegetarian option is the remedy you need to feel better. The ramen is tucked away at the bottom of the bowl, resting and absorbing the flavors of the broth and vegetables. You may need to dig in with your chopsticks to get a little bit of everything on that first bite. The chunks of cabbage and sliced carrots do not lose their crunch and they are definitely noticeable. Plus the tofu squares are a great addition to the dish. There are sprouts and green onions that really add another layer of texture to the ramen; something you wouldn’t expect in a soup. If you find yourself not taking breaks in between mouthfuls of this Japanese dish, don’t fret, it’s meant to be devoured hot and fast. At least that’s what I’ve been told.
Fish isn’t really my go-to item on a menu, but let me say that Kamisama’s eel may have changed that moving forward. Unagi – freshwater eel – is a popular and luxurious fish in Japan. It is served on a warm bed of white rice and veggies. But what brings this entire dish together is the sweet eel sauce that is glazed over the top. The consistency of the fish itself is one I’ve never had before. It’s so tender that my chopsticks couldn’t really pick it up so I had to resort to a fork, which was totally OK. The eel is not fishy and it’s also a very light dish. The cabbage and carrots soak up the eel sauce and every single bite is exquisite.