Burlington is a beautiful city nestled on the eastern shoreline of Lake Champlain in Vermont. It’s a scenic three hour drive from Springfield, Massachusetts. However it feels as if you aren’t driving at all but rather flying through cloud kissed mountains. As you hug one curve after another the luscious Green Mountains seem close enough to reach out and touch. Breathtaking is an understatement and so it’s one of my favorite road trips. If you’ve ever visited Northampton, Massachusetts as I have you might be tempted to compare the two cities. Burlington is of course is a much larger city than Northampton but other than size the two cities could be twins. You will note the same sort of shops such as Hemp and the same sort of restaurants such as Bueno Y Sano. And like NoHo, the energy of Burlington is eclectic, artistic and organic.
I’ve been fortuned with two mini-excursions to Burlington and look forward to many more. My first two trips, however short, gifted me with more than enough time to fall in love with this city. I arrived in Burlington on a rainy evening after a long day of work. Amy was working at the hospital up there and as we are sometimes lucky enough to do, we decided to take advantage of the corporate funded hotel room. The room was extremely nice with the large windows opening up to expose a gorgeous view of Lake Champlain. As I settled into the room waiting for Amy to finish up at the hospital, I watched the rainy evening transform into a powerful thunderstorm. The dark clouds rolled ominously closer to the city and sudden flashes of lightening illuminated the lake below indicating how quickly the thunderstorm was moving. It was a magnificent and humbling view of Mother Nature at work. Moments before the full force of the thunderstorm reached the city, Amy arrived and we watched the storm together for awhile before getting on to the laborious chore of narrowing down which restaurant we should try for dinner. Normally I make decision very quickly and confidently but when it comes to food I crumble into an anxious, indecisive mess. This wouldn’t necessarily be a problem except that Amy is always an anxious mess trying to make any sort of decision. So when the both of us are chewing our fingers and wringing our hands over where to go out for dinner it is a pretty comical sight. Because of this, more often than not we stay in but being in a new city such as Burlington forces us out of our comfort zone. Plus we both really, really love trying new cuisines. It’s one of the few things we never argue about. We finally decided we both wanted soup and/or spicy Asian cuisine due to the chill of the thunderstorm. So, we bundled up with our umbrellas and headed down to Church St.
Asiana Noodle Shop is a cozy, warm establishment perfect for the rain drenched, slightly chilled traveler. You walk through the restaurants front door off Church Street and immediately an aroma of homemade stock as sunny as sunshine invites you to walk down a small flight of stairs. We felt instantly transported far away from the thunderstorm pounding outside. On the walls of Asiana are photographs of vibrantly colored exotic fruits. The daily specials are written in perfect penmanship on chalkboards littered in the spaces between the still life. Bright colors are everywhere and as you walk further down the wooden stairs you see an open sushi bar tucked into the corner of the restaurant in front of the kitchen. The menu boasts a myriad of delicious items such as sushi, Bento boxes, salads, curries and of course soup. As a bonus the menu also offers a choice of protein: chicken, pork, beef or tofu. The diversity of Asiana’s menu is something I especially appreciate. They also are offer white, red & rice wines. With all these options I somewhat shamefully admit I always order the same thing over and over again. That’s right, I go to Asiana Noodle Shop for one dish and one dish alone. Now I could blame this monotonous ordering on the fact that each time I’ve visited Burlington it has been cold and raining. I’m in no way complaining, as I absolutely love thunderstorms and to watch a romanic, powerful thunderstorm drifting over Lake Champlain as I did while waiting for Amy that night made me feel excited and alive, electric almost. Weather like that always leaves me craving a soulful, heavenly bowl of delicious soup but in all honesty I love soup regardless of weather conditions.
Asiana Noodle Shop’s Spicy Miso Ramen Noodle Soup
Miso Ramen defined: Miso is a traditional Japanese seasoning produced by fermenting rice, barley and/or soybeans. Ramen is a Japanese noodle dish. Ramen consists of Chinese-style wheat noodles served in a meat or (occasionally) fish-based broth, often flavored with soy sauce or miso, and uses toppings such as sliced pork, dried seaweed, kamaboko, green onions, and occasionally corn. Almost every locality in Japan has its own variation of ramen, from the tonkotsu (pork bone broth) ramen of Kyushu to the miso ramen of Hokkaido.
Asiana Noodle Shop’s Spicy Miso Ramen is served floating in a gargantuan white bowl full of steaming, perfectly spiced miso broth. The aroma floating up in the steam delights and thrills and teases your senses before you even get to your first bite. The broth embraces your soul with a warm, comforting hug as you slowly sip it out of your oversized soup spoon. Slurping the fresh noodles floating in this beautiful broth makes this dish inner child fun. The tofu is firm, yet tender as it greedily absorbs the miso broth. The chef also tosses in sweet, fresh corn kernels, kelp, and Kamaboko, which I later learned is a type of cured surimi. Kamaboko is solid white, has an intriguing texture and abosorbs flavor much like tofu. I was so intrigued by this mystery ingredient that I spent the next two days researching authentic Ramen Noodle Soup. In my opinion this is soup perfected, soup as it is meant to be. It is spicy but in a way that suductively warms you and keeps you coming back for more and more. It is creamy but in a way that gently comforts you without weighing down the dish. It is exotic yet familiar. I am completely animated while slurping the noodles and sipping the broth with my feet dancing under the table, my throat humming a song of pure, unadultrated joy as my palate dances with delight. I could live or die in that bowl of Miso Ramen Soup. It makes me that happy.
Burlington is simply a beautiful city to visit. It offers local, farm to table dining, seafood, fresh local bakeries, sailing, shopping and so much more. Be sure to take a walk down Church Street and step inside Asiana Noodle Shoe. I encourage everyone to experience this soup at least once in their lifetime. So once you are tucked into your cozy corner table of the restaurant, order the Spicy Miso Ramen Noodle Soup and prepare to have a life altering experience.
Oh and don’t forget to bring your umbrella.