Ask Ann

Got a din­ing ques­tion? Our critic will an­swer it.

Milwaukee Magazine - - Dining -

Q WHEN THERE ARE SO MANY RESTAU­RANTS OPEN­ING AROUND TOWN, HOW DO YOU DE­CIDE WHICH ONES TO RE­VIEW?

A That’s an ex­cel­lent ques­tion! As a cul­ture, we’re con­di­tioned to prick up our ears when we hear about some­thing new, so cov­er­age of the new and note­wor­thy is a ma­jor com­po­nent of my job. That said, the lat­est ar­rivals of­ten need time to iron out the kinks, so if I don’t cover a restau­rant right away, that might be the rea­son. But I also like to re­visit restau­rants, par­tic­u­larly when I’m do­ing a roundup on steak­houses, pizze­rias, tacos or Thai food. Ul­ti­mately my focus is to bring read­ers a mix of restau­rants, new and es­tab­lished, each month.

Q RA­MEN HAS BEEN A TREND ON THE COASTS FOR YEARS. WHY IS IT JUST TAK­ING OFF HERE NOW?

A It’s been 13 years since NYC chef David Chang opened Mo­mo­fuku Noo­dle Bar. But that wasn’t the start of ra­men – which came to Ja­pan (re­port­edly from China) in the early 20th cen­tury. Ra­men hit the Amer­i­can main­stream in the 1970s with in­stant ra­men noo­dles (a sta­ple of poor col­lege stu­dents). You could cer­tainly find ra­men in Asian-Amer­i­can restau­rants in Mil­wau­kee be­fore Ar­dent’s Justin Carlisle started his pop-up Red Light Ra­men in 2014, but it wasn’t par­tic­u­larly mem­o­rable. Or per­haps Carlisle’s own grow­ing ac­claim helped spread this trend, which, with his brick-and-mor­tar ra­men place next to Ar­dent, seems to be peak­ing here. The lo­cal band­wagon has a few other rid­ers, some that ex­tend the noo­dle gim­mick to burg­ers or of­fer it in tan­dem with sushi or other fare. In­ter­est, in gen­eral, in Ja­panese food is spik­ing in 2017; how­ever, Vietnamese pho is also re­ported to be com­ing back. ◆

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