I'm very excited about an upcoming Tasting & Testing column for which I get to develop a great recipe for ramen—Japanese noodle soup. I've made it to a few New York City ramen shops, Rai Rai Ken and Ippudo —for some much-needed research. What's nice about the more low-key places (those that serve noodles at a counter facing the kitchen) is that I can pretty much see everything that goes into my bowl just by standing up—very helpful when working on a new recipe. I saw what went into the stock, how they cooked the noodles, how they dressed the bowls, etc.
What I missed there, I learned from watching Cooking With Dog on YouTube . On this show, a woman demos all sorts of Japanese dishes, from ramen to katsudon (fried pork cutlet) to okonomiyaki (Japanese egg foo yong). Beside her, perched on a wooden stool next to the countertop hot plate, sits a gray toy poodle. The eponymous "Dog," though not directly addressed, is very well behaved—never nibbling at the skillet or pawing at the ingredients or acting up, as dogs often do when in front of the camera. He just sits there like a curly gray Buddha, observing. He is rewarded, however, with a small treat at the end of each segment. There's much to learn about ramen here—for example, that the sliced, braised pork needs to be crisped under the broiler before it goes onto the soup, and that by squeezing the pork you release the fat (really?). But having once been the owner of an ill-tempered mutt, what I'd really like to know is, how did they train "Dog"?