Together we chart a cautious yet cheerful course in the darkness, navigating between potholes and broken paving stones. We’re in that relatively quiet zone on Thong Lo, before you reach Sukhumvit and away from the chic eateries that draw the golden crowds further up the street.
We’ve just watched a dance show by my friend, Japanese-American performer Michael Sakamoto. The conversation flows, our imaginations brimming, but our stomachs are empty.
Having eyed up a few vendors and scanned the darkness for the alluring glow of a cosy restaurant, we’ve finally come across a quaint and quirky Japanese café-cumrestaurant called Sendai Ramen Mokkori—a welcome port in our gathering storm of indecision and hunger.
As we pass through sliding doors, we’re greeted with the widest of smiles from the restaurant’s Japanese owner, who is stationed at the front counter, deftly preparing noodles. He waves his giant chopsticks like the conductor of an orchestra of noodles. Have I walked out of one show and into another?
Rows of partially empty sake bottles jostle for space on shelves above a hand-written sign declaring “Keep 3 Months.” A mosaic of faded photos depicts happy- looking celebrities. It appears Sendai Ramen has earned a following over the years. Perhaps part of the appeal is its beer policy: 1 for B149 or 2 for B209.
While my friends snap selfies, I get down to business. No ramen expert, I deploy my restaurant radar, using instinct to make my selection. I end up with a spicy karamiso soup, which is, of course, from Sendai—Sendai Karamiso Shashu Men. Before long, selfies complete, there’s more than one pair of chopsticks jabbing at my noodles, more than one spoon scooping up my soup.
The noodles are smooth and al dente, complemented by butterlike shashu and the startling, aromatic spice of karamiso (roasted chilli miso) that melts into the rusty-brown soup. The whole table keeps quiet as we let the food do the talking for once.
Sendai Ramen Mokkori is on 8/3 Soi Sukhumvit 55, or Soi Thong Lo 2. About 200 metres from Sukhumvit, you will notice some red Japanese lanterns hanging in front of a restaurant on the right side. Open between 11am and 1am. Cash only. Tel: 0 2392 0811.