Alkaline: Norfolk, Virginia
Sometimes when we talk about restaurants we talk about local mom and pops vs. chains. How we often love to see a local restaurant start up do well and expand because their food is great, and the community rallies behind them. Even more so when its not just a local restaurant that popped into a newly leased space, but a food truck or after hours pop up turned full fledged restaurant. Welcome to Alkaline, an authentic ramen restaurant that used to be an after hours pop up shop that took over a butcher shop in the p.m. Fast forward two years, and Alkaline moved into their own brick and mortar space in a busy shopping center in Norfolk, Virginia. This local ramen spot is the only place I go in the seven cities to fulfill my need for a ramen fix.
Even if your not in the mood for ramen, there are a ton of options to choose from in the starter menu that i could eat on a regular basis as a snack. My favorite is the Banh Mi, soft bun, tasty sweet sour marinated beef, and scallions come together to make an iconic street food. It’s worth mentioning , the banh mi is not always on the menu, I was able to sneak some from the kitchen. The tater tots are just as impressive as they are scary if your new to Asian cuisine. Katsuobushi (the paper looking topping) is basically smoked, shaved, fermented, and dried fish. The fun part about this dish is due to the heat, it moves almost as if it’s alive before you eat it. Add in a topping of bbq sauce, kewpie mayonnaise , and scallions to the base of tater tots and the perfect finger food. Last but not least are the pork blood nachos. Over the many times I have brought someone to Alkaline, so many people skip this starter simply because of the name, those that are brave enough to try it , always end up with a smile on their face. The nachos stay crispy , cheddar, porks blood marinated beef , scallions, and a pepper. The beef has that ever so slight metallic taste, but the cheddar and scallions mask this for a delicious bite.
The star of the show, the grand finale , the crown jewels of Alkaline, the ramen. Noodles are cooked to order , the broth is added to the bowl first , next cooked noodles are added to broth, next an egg is cracked straight into the broth and noodles to cook. Beef is placed on top of the noodles and broth, scallions are placed next to the beef, then topped with veggies and a candied radish. Finally sesame seeds and soy sauce are added to make the ever so wonderful Tonkotsu ramen classic. I would fully recommend the Tonkotsu ramen if you are new to ramen dishes, if this is not your first time I would go for the red curry ramen. The red curry is basically all the devious ramen you live, with a nice spice, but if your really adventurous go with the kimchi ramen.
Alkaline is not only my only & favorite place to eat ramen locally, its one of my favorite places to eat ramen in the U.S.. With a small but fun atmosphere where the walls are littered with eastern dolls, cool japanese inspired toys, anime on the television, and neon lights like the one in the image above, its a fun place to be. With a friendly staff, fun atmosphere , and great ramen that goes perfect with a cool winters day, there is no place I’d rather be. If your a local or a tourist, this place needs to be on your list of local attractions that give your tastebuds and adventure.