Nudo House Pops Up

Last June, I posted a sneak peek of Qui Tran's (then unnamed) upcoming noodle shop, Nudo House. Since then, I've heard nothing but whining and moaning about the fact I got to try it and you didn't. Some of you shared my total faith in Qui and knew it would be good. Some of you thought I was just hyping it up and that there was no way some Vietnamese guy from St. Louis could pull off ramen. Well, you finally got your chance to try it at the Nudo House pop-up at Guerrilla Street Food (GSF) yesterday, and after scanning through all the Tweets and Instagram posts, it seems that you loved it.

Here's how the day worked: Qui and Marie-Anne Velasco, Nudo's executive chef, got to GSF in the late morning, bringing with them hundreds of pounds of ingredients. 70 pounds of bean sprouts, 140 pounds of ground pork, an enormous amount of pork stock, and more green onions than I've ever seen in my life. Everything had to be ready to go by 2 PM when the food industry preview started, followed by the onslaught of people starting at 5 PM.

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For $8, you got a pop-up sized bowl of spicy miso ramen—my favorite ramen. Rich (read: fatty) pork stock mixed with a heavily seasoned miso gives the broth an unctuous flavor and mouth feel. Ground pork, pickled mustard greens (not traditionally Japanese, but adding this Vietnamese condiment works well), green onions, toasted sesame seeds, a perfect ramen egg, fiery hot chili paste, and, of course, Sun Noodles.

The ramen egg alone is worth complimenting: it's not a hard-boiled egg and it's not a soft-boiled egg. It's somewhere between, yielding a creamy yolk that cuts through the heat perfectly. The eggs are marinated in a soy-based mixture, so even on their own, they're loaded with flavor. If I could eat these for breakfast everyday, I would.

If you scope out "#nudopopup", you'll see tons of buzz about the tasting from your friends and favorite chefs in town . There's no bullshitting here: this is the first real ramen (and really good ramen) to arrive in St. Louis. I got so jacked up from eating it that I challenged Qui's friend, UFC fighter Tyron Woodley, to a parking lot brawl. I crushed him, all thanks to the spicy miso.

It's no surprise though—Nakamura-san, Qui's mentor, is a legendary ramen maker from Japan. To be the best, you've got to learn from the best, ya know?

After the ramen dust had settled, Qui told me that if I wrote up the pop-up, he wanted me to tell you that he was very appreciative of all the support St. Louis has given him, and a big thank you to all those came out to try the ramen. What a guy!

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