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Restaurant lunch highlights:

Crane Ramen

Crane Ramen

Bone broth drives newfound soup passion

CraneRamenSFBy Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

I'm beginning to think I might be sounding like a broken record about the very cool downtown soup shop with the stylized red headed crane on the menu. Crane Ramen on the old historic brick road just off of Downtown Main St. continues to surprise me with smiles and a cool sense of 'Just how hip I am' sitting at the Crane Ramen bar gazing out into the sweltering afternoon oppressive heat.

Sure there was a smirk on my face.

Look at me GLOBers. Enjoying my late lunch with not too many lunch outers left in the restaurant. It was like it was my own personal dining room with all the amenities.

I've heard all the stories about college students living on Ramen noodles because they were a cheap food item.  I just checked and according to Maruchan.com website in 1958, instant ramen noodles were invented in Japan, and were first given a name of Chinese origin - "Ramen." This primarily refers to noodles in a soup broth. Due to the ease of preparation and rich flavor of ramen noodles, consumption of ramen noodle soup use quickly expanded worldwide.

 

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This serene, early afternoon setting got me thinking seriously about my lunch.

I feel good about the fact I have taken my eating habits to different places regarding my nutrition and health agenda:

zzGLOBbullet I refrain from gorging myself with a lot of extra food when I eat.

zzGLOBbullet I have become a diabetes soldier fighting back against all carbohydrates especially the dreaded, evil White Carb Demons.

091317A1cMy diligence has paid off with better blood sugar maintenance in my quest for normal, human like A1c results, and everyday blood sugar numbers. It appears my adventure to better health will be a long one GLOBers. But now being on the front lines of the diabetic blood sugar wars there are few rewards and even less good outcomes.

Those were my thoughts as I looked at my bowl of Crane Ramen TONKOTSU, $12.95, with literally more noodles than I have eaten in over a year floating in my bone broth.

 

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I was smart by-the-way in requesting the choice of the Kid' Bowl ($8.96), of this luscious pork-bone broth topped with pork chashu, pork belly, wood-ear mushroom, enoki mushroom, soy-marinated egg, crispy shallot & garlic chips, black garlic oil and scallions.

The Crane Ramen bone broth is extraordinarily hardy. It is so strongly flavored, rich in texture it could almost suffice as a gravy, or at least a divine sauce on your protein and mash potatoes.

Oh. Sorry. They don't serve mashed potatoes at Crane Ramen . . . Darn it.

The GLOB Master grew up with an understanding from dear old dad that bone marrow and organ meats are components of cooking that make for very special flavor combinations.  These cooking broth and stock partners are rich in protein, specifically gelatin and they also contain trace amounts of minerals like calcium and phosphorus.  In Asia stocks and broths are made from fish and fish bones.  In Europe, stocks and broths not only used to create soups and stews, but also for preparing reductions, sauces and for braising vegetables and meats.

 

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What flavors GLOBers. The mushrooms were unique, almost jelly like, and saturated with bone broth. The marinated egg with bits of shallots, garlic chips, and scallions was supremely delicious.  I was left wondering why there wasn't two, or three egg halves in my soup. There is a Crane Ramen restaurant menu link at the bottom of this page.

The GLOB Master grew up understanding bone marrow and organ meats are components of cooking that make for very special flavor combinations.  These cooking broth and stock partners are rich in protein, specifically gelatin and they also contain trace amounts of minerals like calcium and phosphorus.  In Asia stocks and broths are made from fish and fish bones.  In Europe, stocks and broths not only used to create soups and stews, but also for preparing reductions, sauces and for braising vegetables and meats.

The Kid's Bowl portion was a perfect size for the customer with no plans to share the larger portion, or take half of the soup home. Which had me thinking:  All right, maybe one, or tow spoonfuls of these exquisitely flavorful Asian noodles I thought to myself as I happily slurped, enjoying my badness tremendously.

More importantly this was the first time I have eaten alone at Crane Ramen.

I'm a big boy. I don't need no stinkn' lunch company to enjoy a bowl of soup . . .

The Pluses and Minuses of Crane Ramen.

Crane Ramen (+) indicators: An intense New York lunch stop ambience and incredibly rich, hearty bone broth soup.

Crane Ramen  (-) indicators: A busy popular lunch stop, even busier in the evening. The GLOB Master could still use a translator for many of the menu items.

Offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about xxx. Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments. - THANKS!

 090116Topper

Small bites create big flavor in NY setting

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

CRANEramenLOGOLately when someone says, "Where do you want to eat lunch GLOB Master," My first thought is the very cool, 'chic', delicious Crane Ramen soup house.

The friendly staff, hip bar, and interesting high top and low tables give this café, to me, a very New York feel.

 

090116MeLivvy

I was meeting new Gainesville Lunch Out Blog Staffer Olivia Cunningham for drinks and appetizers when I asked at my favorite downtown watering hole where they would go for a quick bite and drinks. Harry's Seafood Bar and Grille Server Ryan quickly suggested Crane Ramen. "They have very unique small plate bites and good happy hour pricing," he said nodding his head in the affirmative.

That idea worked for Olivia as she has never been to CR and was ready to try a new restaurant.

090116ViccaI beat the newbie writer there and found a seat at the bar only to be surprised by old friend Vicca serving behind the Bar. Vicca was helpful in explaining the obvious – that ramen noodles and tasty, bite size Asian buns might not be the best diabetes dishes.

"That's why I'm suggesting for you the pickled pan fried mixed veggies and the fried pork belly," Vicca said. "No worries, I'll take care of ya Mike," she added confidently. See image at the top of this review.

In a turn of happenstance, synchronicity, small world occurrences, and friendly recognition, Vicca, image right,  and Olivia realized they worked together years back out on Archer Rd.

Just like that, it was a gathering of friends.

The perfect timing of the appetizers appearing as Olivia sat down put us all in the mood for food, conversation, and more food.

The pan fried pickled vegetables were crisp, crunchy, tart, and flavorable. Carrots, cucumbers, and daikon radishes filled the bowl with interesting squares of taste and crunch. They were not just pleasing, they were very good.

 

 090116Bellys

I could see Olivia surveying the fried pork belly in front of us with the same feelings I was experiencing.

"Oh wow, " Olivia exclaimed. " I am a major pork lover and this pork is tender, spiced and fried perfect," she said reaching for her second bite.

I took my bite and was really surprised with the flavor, tenderness, and texture of the pork belly.

"Oh," I happily exclaimed. "This tastes like the best fried chicken gizzards I have ever eaten," I said thinking we should have bought a second plate of fried pork belly.

 

090116Buns

We weren't done. I bragged about my knowledge of the CR Chicken and Pork Belly Steamed Buns, and suggested we give each a try. The pork belly brought a smile to my happy hour partner's face. The chicken buns were fantastic with a tart, spicy sauce making my mouth pucker with each bite. The buns themselves are amazingly soft to the touch and give way to present your taste buds a fabulous surprise.

"Let's share a bowl of soup, Livy," I said already knowing Olivia's answer. "Let me guess, would you like to try the Tonkotsu?" This was Crane Ramen's amazingly rich, delicious pork bone-broth soups with pork chashu, pork belly, wood ear mushrooms, house hot sauce, marinated egg, black garlic oil and scallions.

 

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WOW! Is really all that needs to be said. If I have a criticism it is that I am not a big take-the-leftovers- home kinda guy. These extra big bowls of soup scream out, "Please share."

 

090116Drink

Vicca turned me on to an excellent Asian beer called Sapporo Light that fit my mood exquisitely. Olivia took advantage of the $5 cocktail specials trying several different varieties. It might be hard to believe but the conversation the three of us shared was better than the delicious small plate appetizers.

I have been true blue to my happy hour watering hole since the old Sovereign closed up a zillion years ago. That will be me at the bar for awhile thinking longingly of the tempting, inviting, special, Crane Ramen experience

PLUS Crane Ramen now includes a kid-size bowl of ramen for $8.95. There is a complete Carne Ramen menu at the bottom of his page.

 

 

TOPPERcrMMONDAY

Soup shop becoming GLOB Master favorite

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

CraneRamenSFYou know how some ideas just grow on you GLOBers? The more I think about it, the more I am inclined to say the Crane Ramen soup shop in Downtown Gainesville is one of the more unique, hip, and very tasty lunch stops in the Urban GLOB. Who would think a menu primarily serving soup would draw such acclaim? But this downtown lunch stop works. The small, friendly space makes it special as all the lunch outers become deeply involved in slurping their lunch.

That's correct. Slurping. The Crane Ramen placemats even illustrate with cartoon art the correct way to slurp.

 

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I haven't forgotten today is Meatless Monday. In fact, Crane Ramen sports a very yummy sounding MARKET VEGGIE MISO, which is a mushroom vegetable-oolong broth topped with Chef's choice vegetables and tofu ($11.95). Plus you can get an OTSUMAMI (appetizer) of VEGGIE GYOZA, which is pan fried mixed-veggie and tofu dumplings with ponzu sauce ($6.95).

These Crane Ramen dumplings are very special lunch additions that are perfectly wonderful dunked into your lunchtime bowl of joy.

 

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BRITdoggieLast week, Brittany Blum, server at Harry's Seafood Bar & Grille, and I were celebrating her birthday at the CR and we opted for ramen in chicken broth. Brittany selected the PAITAN, image at the top of this review, which included roasted chicken, chef's greens, soy -marinated egg, nori, lemon oil, and scallions.

Brittany has been to Crane Ramen several times and has decided this is her favorite ramen flavor combination, with a marinated cooked egg and its beautiful presentation.

 

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Recently reading about the trend in bone broths for daily consumption, I decided on the TONKOTSU ($12.95). To me, what makes these ramen soups different is the attention to the creation of the broth. I am amazed at how rich, delicious, and hearty every bite, er slurp is. My ramen included pork-bone broth topped with pork chashu, pork belly, hot sauce, soy-marinated egg, kikurage mushrooms, black garlic oil, and scallions with hot sauce on the side to add a distinctive spicy kick.

 

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We ordered a side of PORK BELLY STEAMED BUNS ($6.95) with star anise-rubbed pork belly with pickled radishes and greens and KIMCHI BRUSSELS SPROUTS ($5.95), which are roasted and tossed with garlic mushrooms and pork lardons and served with kimchi puree.  Brittany suggested we order the KIMCHI BRUSSELS SPROUTS ($5.95) which are roasted brussels sprouts tossed with garlic mushrooms & pork lardons, served with kimchi Puree, This veggie was really good with a hint of heat and a tasty familiar crinch of the brussels sprouts.   Fabulously delicious. and fresh, these extras added the perfect balance to our liquid lunch.  According to the Crane Ramen website: "Our meat, eggs and poultry are local whenever possible, and most of our veggies come from farms located within 100 miles of the restaurant. All of our food is scratch-made."  There is a complete Crane Ramen menu at the CR restaurant link at the bottom of this page.

What fun to celebrate the passing of another year with a very special friend. Also, I've decided I don't go to CR enough and am already planning to go back in the near future.

BOTTLEcrSTILLlifeNow about this Meatless Monday thing. When I was working on today's images It occurred to me that a marinated egg in the soup may have crossed the meatless boundaries. I called GLOB Content Editor Lynn Dirk to get her sense of whether our eatification violated the vegetarian tenets, and she quickly found a website that discussed what is vegetarian or vegan and also found an article at one of her favorite eco-news websites, grist.org, that discussed 'reducetarianism' as yet another option.The Pluses and Minuses of Crane Ramen.

Crane Ramen (+) indicators: Hearty, rich soups, beautifully presented.  Vicca and the CR staff is customer friendly and very accommodating. Gazing out into old Gainesvile's brick streets this popular, somewhat new lunch experience virtually sends you off to another place, and time somewhere in New York City.

Crane Ramen  (-) indicators: The ramen noodles were winning the battle with my chopsticks to the point where Vicca handed me a fork with the empathetic responce, "I think you need this Mike."

 

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NY style soup shop delights GLOB team

By: Melissa Kahan, GLOB Correspondent

CraneRamenSFThe GLOB team – well, Mike, Lynn, and I--have been trying to coordinate a foodie trip to the highly-anticipated Crane Ramen for quite some time. I see countless pictures on social media and have heard more reviews on this small, chic ramen joint than on most local places lately. It is very unlikely for Gainesville to have such a New York-style eatery, intricate wall décor and limited seating included, so of course I was intrigued.

MElybbramen12Finally the three of us met up at the start of the dinner shift on Saturday, namely because unless you get there at an off hour or at the beginning of the dinner rush, there is no telling how long it will take to be seated. However, this weekend was the start of UF's spring break, and we were not only seated immediately, but there were only a few other dining patrons in Crane Ramen! I had been worried the experience would be claustrophobic and rushed based on previous reviews, but this Saturday we got lucky.

LYNNmkramen13Walking into the small, narrow restaurant, a long bar occupying the left side of the room and various-sized tables on the right side, it was refreshing to see the upscale chic wall décor and ramen emblem on cloth banners hanging from the ceiling. After being seated at a high-top, the server immediately handed us menus and walked us through every item. Note: This extra attention is probably not as feasible when it is super busy, so this review, occurring during a UF break and right at 5 pm when CR opens for dinner, may be a tad skewed. I was very pleased nonetheless with how well the server described each dish, making it very easy to order appetizers and drinks first. There is a complete menu at the restaurant link below review.

Dumplingsamen7

After the server remarked that Crane is the only Gainesville dining spot that makes its own gyoza in house, naturally we had to order that appetizer.  The Veggie Gyoza (image above) was a flavorful dumpling served with a citrus touch to the ponzu dipping sauce, but I feel it would have been better if the outer wonton wrapper had been cooked longer, as it was quite gummy compared with others I've had. We also ordered a second appetizer and that was the true appetizer winner:  Kimchi Brussels Sprouts (image below) cooked to perfection. Kimchi and sauce lining the bottom of the dish added an addictive touch to the extremely tender and crispy Brussels sprouts.

sproutCHICKENcomboThe three of us decided it was best to each get a different type of ramen to see the variety, so Lynn opted for the Veggie Miso, Mike landed on the Chicken Paitan, and I knew immediately that the special of the night was for me. The Tsukemen Special was unique in that the noodles and other added goodies were separate from the broth, encouraging you to dip the noodles individually into the broth. One thing about warm ramen noodles, though, is that unless you eat it as soon as it hits the table, it cools and sticks together, making it almost impossible to separate the noodles using chopsticks alone. I knew this would be a messier meal, but I'll admit I didn't think I'd have to use my fingers to get just a few noodles at a time. However, the dark broth, which the server mentioned was like the Tonkatsu broth made with pork, was very flavorful and rich with added sesame seeds, as well. Another addicting aspect to the meal was the pork chunks that almost fell apart in my mouth, the fattier section of meat complementing the half soft boiled egg creating some serious yolk porn. Pickled ginger and a smattering of green veggies added a welcome contrasting crunch to the bowl, but all of the flavors shone on their own while still creating a cohesive ramen dish, albeit challenging to eat.

LYNNramen8It seemed that, while Lynn was pleased with the veggie miso, she preferred Mike's chicken ramen, image above. They ended up switching bowls but not after she doctored up the veggie ramen with sesame oil and other condiments. I really liked the veggie miso broth, better than the chicken paitan broth in fact, but both Mike and Lynn seemed to think the chicken paitain was the winner. I was more than content with my Tsukemen and now know that the Tonkatsu would be the regular bowl for me. We also added the house hot sauce for an extra dollar each to our bowls, and while I could have done without, the ramen being flavorful enough as it was, the house sauce was a nice thicker paste that gave a perfect amount of heat.

PLACEMATramen

LDMKramen5The ramen soup experience opened me up to a more varied food experience than this adventurer has typically encountered, especially in the method by which you should eat ramen. All etiquette on eating quietly and politely is out the window at Crane Ramen, as you are encouraged by instructions on cartoon-illustrated placemats (click to enlarge image) to shovel up noodles and broth by slurping the broth-soaked noodles loudly, which cools and aerates the noodles. After the noodles are gone, you then drink the remaining ladle full of broth (image at top). I have to say, I was hesitant at first to go against Miss Manners, but it was a refreshing and fun foodie experience! I have heard that during busier hours, sometimes quality is compromised due to the rush, but it seems the staff at Crane Ramen are determined to make each experience a memorable one.

CRANEramenLOGOThe Pluses and Minuses of Crane Ramen.

Crane Ramen (+) indicators: Unique, new type of Gainesville cuisine, good value, very tasty, intimate setting, fully-stocked bar, chic decor

Crane Ramen  (-) indicators: Ramen soup dish you have to eat fast to avoid cold broth and sticky noodles, very crowded most days, downtown parking can be problematic.

Offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about xxx. Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments. - THANKS!

Last modified onWednesday, 13 September 2017 05:39

Additional Info

  • Phone Number: (904) 525-5941
  • Address: 16 SW 1st Ave., Gainesville, FL
  • Urban GLOB Location: Downtown
  • Latitude: 29.6510447
  • Longitude: -82.3251553
From:

2 comments

  • mike sanford
    mike sanford Thursday, 05 November 2015 05:45 Comment Link

    Hi Pat! Thanks for the comment. I'm afraid I am like every other downtown customer and expect parking spots close to the business I want to visit. You are correct, I should have said CONVENIENT parking is a problem. The parking garages which I think were built with the idea of long term downtown staff, and employees would use these garages during working hours, freeing up street parking for downtown visitors.

  • Pat McCants
    Pat McCants Wednesday, 04 November 2015 16:47 Comment Link

    I don't understand why you say downtown parking is problematic! There are two parking garages downtown...one of which is steps away from Crane Ramen!

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