In my opinion, on a chilly spring evening there’s little that can beat a bowl of hot and hearty soup. Recently, though, soup was on my menu plan for a different reason. I’d been traveling for two months, staying with family and friends in South Africa and the United Kingdom. Along the way, I’d fallen victim to eating exhaustion. Each time someone had mentioned dinner, as in “What do you want for dinner?” or, “We’ll go to this great little place for dinner,” I found myself thinking, “Hell is another dinner,” and planning my escape.
On my return to Oakland, by way of a recovery plan, I pledged two weeks of nothing but soup. But my partner had not been traveling and, of course, as soon as I got back, he suggested dinner. To compromise, I suggested Noodle Theory in Oakland.
The soups, it turns out, are more substantial than what I had in mind. But it was a chilly evening, and the slow-roasted Niman Ranch pork belly ramen in savory pork miso broth ($13) sounded hearty, yet understated (by which I mean less exotic than the peanut lime cilantro broth, or the broth with white truffle oil).
And it was. The pork belly was melt-in-your-mouth tender. The noodles were light and juicy in the broth. The flavor was more delicate than savory—light-handed in the garlic, onions, pepper and spices—all of which suited me down to the ground.
We ate early, and so didn’t have to stand in line outside this popular Asian-fusion eatery. The service was welcome-home friendly. And in the future, when friends come to stay, I will relieve them of the burden of another dinner—and simply serve them soup.
Noodle Theory, 6099 Claremont Ave., (510) 595-6988, closed Tuesdays, serves lunch 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. daily (except 12 p.m.–2:30 p.m. Sundays) and dinner 5 p.m.—9:30 p.m., daily, www.noodletheory.com.