First Look: Tokyo’s Ramen Nagi opens in Palo Alto

Ramen Nagi's Red King bowl features a spicy, red chile oil-spiked broth andpork belly and a pork-red miso ball. (Courtesy of Mary Orlin)

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There’s a new ramen master in town.

Tokyo-based Ramen Nagi’s first U.S. location has landed in Palo Alto, bringing “king” ramen bowls to Silicon Valley. We got a sneak peek during a media preview, when chef Satoshi Ikuta — in town for the restaurant’s launch — served his ramen to American diners for the first time. Ikuta founded Ramen Nagi in 2004, and has since opened 40 restaurants across Asia.

What sets Ramen Nagi apart is that diners can customize the offerings, which include four standards, as well as weekly specials ($13-$14). All the ramens here are dubbed King Ramen, a moniker indicating ramen’s star status. Noodles, thick and thin, are made daily with water purified in-house. Those fresh noodles cook in a flash — 20 to 30 seconds is all it takes — but the big stock pots of tonkotsu, a pork-based broth, simmer for more than 20 hours.

THE VIBE: Nagi means calm and tranquil in Japanese, and the dining room has a certain zen to it. Ikuta has his hand in everything from Nagi’s food to decor. Pops of red highlight the slabs of Japanese black cedar on the walls, and Japanese music fills the room. Staff are clad in T-shirts, bandanas and aprons, all designed by Ikuta and emblazoned with the words “Universal Noodle Creators.”

FOOD: Savory and comforting, the Original King bowl holds thin noodles, tree mushrooms, tender chasu pork loin, crunchy green onion and the secret-recipe Nagi Fire Sauce. We weren’t able to fully customize our bowls at the preview, but diners get an omotenashi — which means hospitality in Japanese — order sheet to fill out and express preferences for light, normal or heavy strength of flavor (salt), for example, …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle

      

Artificial trans fats, widely linked to heart disease, officially banned

By Caitlin Dewey | The Washington Post

Once ubiquitous in everything from frozen pizza to coffee creamer to popcorn, artificial trans fats are — as of Monday — banished from U.S. restaurants and grocery stores.

Food-makers have had three years to phase out the ingredient, which the Food and Drug Administration ruled unsafe to eat in 2015. Nutrition researchers and public health advocates long ago found artificial trans fats, a modified form of vegetable oil, raised “bad” cholesterol and contributed to heart disease.

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That prompted a wave of voluntary recipe changes at food companies, and trans fat consumption has plummeted over the past decade. But the June 18 deadline marks a final chapter in the U.S. fight against trans fats at a time when other countries are beginning to contemplate a similar change.

“The elimination of artificial trans fat from the food supply represents a historic and long-fought victory for public health,” said Michael Jacobson, the former executive director of the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest, in a statement to mark the occasion. “Ridding the food supply of partially hydrogenated oils will save tens of thousands of lives each year.”

Scientists developed the method for modifying oils in the early 20th century, but food-makers didn’t deploy them until the 1950s and ’60s when they needed ways to lengthen shelf life and improve the texture of processed food products.

But in the early 1990s, research began turning up powerful links between artificial trans fats, cholesterol and heart disease. (Studies have not established a connection between those conditions and the natural trans fats that occur in some animal proteins.)

Artificial trans fats are made in an industrial process that injects hydrogen …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle

      

Rita’s Ice now scooping in Alameda; next up: Santa Clara

Rita’s Ice, a sweet institution since 1984, has expanded to Alameda with a shop at the South Shore Center. Coming soon is a Santa Clara location at 1807 Pruneridge Ave.

The chain’s specialties include the East Coast-born Italian ices, legendary in New York and New Jersey for decades (mango is the top seller) and the frozen custard that’s wildly popular in the Midwest, especially St. Louis.

If you can’t decide between the two, you can order a Gelati, which tops the icy concoction with big swirls of the creamy custard. Or if you can’t settle on one flavor, you can order one of the Ice Flights, a sampler of four. The Italian ice is also available in a sugar-free version, sweetened with Splenda.

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The Alameda Rita’s, located across from the Adventure Court, will be open from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Details: www.ritasice.com

…read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle

      

Top 10 coolest small towns in America (including one in California)

Great food, beautiful landscapes, cultural appeal and a population under 20,000? For more than a decade, the folks at BudgetTravel.com have been scouting out what they call the “coolest small towns” in America, looking for eclectic vacation destinations that balance small town charm with va-va-voom. Places you’d want to go to, if only you knew.

The goal, Robert Firpo-Cappiello, editor in chief at Budget Travel, said is “to help you discover travel that goes beyond the obvious big cities and theme parks and discover something a little different: America’s Coolest Small Towns.”

At the top spot: The New York town of Beacon, thanks to its Hudson River Valley setting, its array of artists, artisans and chefs, and its stunning DIA: Beacon museum of contemporary art. It was actually singer and activist Pete Seeger, who helped turned this former mill town’s fortunes around, when he began grassroots lobbying in the 1960s to save the Hudson River, then a toxic brew of industrial chemicals that flowed near his log cabin. This, he told neighbors, could be a beautiful place.

Beacon’s transformation surged forward in the early 2000s, when the old Nabisco Box Printing Factory became the DIA, a 300,000-square-foot modern art museum that houses installations too large for New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Artists, artisans, brewers and chefs soon flocked to Beacon, but the town retains its small-town feel.

Sonoma took the No. 2 spot for its wine-tasting rooms on the plaza, its chic restaurants and its irresistible vineyard-dotted hills and valleys. Firpo-Cappiello calls it “a theme park for grown-ups.”

The rest of the list criss-crosses the country from Sedona, Arizona and its gorgeous rock formations and vortex energy centers, to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains and Dollywood. Here’s the list. Check out what makes these places so compelling —and …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle

      

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