On Friday, we took the super highspeed train to Kyoto. About a two and a half hour ride on a nice, clean train with plenty of leg room. The train arrived/departed to the very minute as scheduled (in fact, we saw one sign across the tracks that apologized for the delay of a train that was running 4 minutes late. Lazy bastards.)

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Kyoto is a beautiful city – a smaller, cleaner, better-dressed sister to Tokyo. We were starving after checking into our hotel (Hotel Monterey) and so, before doing any mandatory sight-seeing, we went down a few blocks to a delicious ramen joint…
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The place was small but you were enticed at the entrance by the soy-saucey broth and pork belly smells as people by the counter were slurping loudly on their ramen. We sat at a small table nearby which was already half full with a tray of chopsticks and pickled garnishes for the ramen. We ordered their special -miso ramen with pork, brown egg, bamboo shoots, sprouts, and green onion. Being a Korean, I instinctively detected the side of kimchee on the menu and ordered it…

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Not as spicy as you think considering the picture. In fact, not that spicy at all. But pickled very well. Is this chef Korean?? I read up on Kyoto before we arrived. I came prepared. And one thing I found out about Kyoto – they love to pickle. Everything. Eggplant, various roots, fruit (we tried a pickled grapefruit. Tastes like chicken. Just kidding. Pickles!) They’re all about the pickles. The Vlasik stork would be laughed at mercilessly here. The kimchee was really good. The kind of good where you felt they were ever so slightly condescendingly showing you that you can make it look fiery without scorching your tongue and have it taste like a nice piece of pickled cabbage. Before I philosophized about this too much, the ramen arrived …

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And it was delicious. We appreciated the fact that they sliced the pork and the other condiments per order. We also liked the fact that the (head?) ramen chef occasionally looked out to the customers to see them eating – not sure if he was wondering if we needed anything else or just wanted to see the satisfaction on our faces. This was a good start to Kyoto. A very good start!

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Kirsten feeling happy

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same for Mo

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… five minutes later.