After a long drive back from Key West, and a change of my whole outfit in the passenger seat of the car (I’m proud of that one), we found ourselves standing outside of Drunken Dragon; a stones throw away from South beach Miami.
We’d heard a rumor that on certain nights they had an event for tiki cocktails and ramen bowls; could anything ever sound more perfect than that?
We were ready, we were hungry, and I was eager to get inside.
The restaurant had dim lights which gave it an intimate feel, and instantly I was hit with a wall of deliciously smelling ramen cooking in the kitchen.
The first thing I said to my husband was ‘wow, this place smells amazing’.
We sat down and decided to order the Peking Bao buns from the main menu, but then swiftly made our way to the ramen and tiki menus as fast as we could; they where short, but to the point with their listings and it didn’t take us long to place our order.
I decided to go with the ‘Fall’ cocktail and my husband decided on the ‘Winter’.
For the ramen we both naturally wanted the same; pork, Shoyu, pork!
The waiter advised us that the bowls ran very large and we should consider sharing a bowl between us.
My husband and I instantly looked at each other across the table uncomfortably; we love each other and share many things every day, but food is not one of them.
Begrudgingly, I think on both of our parts, we agreed on sharing and decided that there was a first for everything.
Our cocktails arrived quickly.
Mine a simple fall colored drink that tasted just as the menu had listed. The coconut fat was very prominent, and the redemption rye whiskey was poured with a heavy hand – excellent.
My husbands cocktail had pineapple in, so unfortunately that was me out of the tasting equation with my ever annoying allergy, but I knew it was good by the way each sip was more of a gulp from the coconut can glass into my husbands mouth.
As the restaurant gradually got busier it was fun to see people cooking their own meats at their own korean grill on selected tables; a restaurant experience my husband and I also loved, but nothing could stop me from looking forward to a big steaming bowl of yummy ramen.
Up first came our Peking Bao buns, which I was so excited about I almost forgot to take a picture.
Recently I’ve found myself obsessing over Bao buns more than I believe is normal, or healthy, for any human. However, at least I know my demons; they’re only a problem if you’re in denial.
The first bite of fried chicken skin was enough to make me push it to the side of my plate, knowing full well I’ve never been a fan but wanting to try anyway.
My husband and I faced each other, one Bao each in hand, as though we were having a cowboy standoff across the table.
As we took the first bite we didn’t break eye contact, both eager to see the reactions on either side, and I look back now thinking of how damn sexy that is; our love for each other and for food is ever growing strong.
The taste was phenomenal; imagine the best shredded Peking Duck of your life, covered in hoisin sauce, accompanied with fresh cucumber, scallions, and deliciousness, then imagine it stuffed generously into a fluffy little Bao bun pillow.
My world flipped upside down, I felt cheated for all the years I hadn’t had these incredible little masterpieces.
It only lasted three more bites, and I swore right there and then that I’d try to make my own version of this in the very near future.
They were so good that my husband and I agreed we could easily order 4 more servings and really take the Bao buns to town.
Waiting patiently I stared sadly at the empty Bao steamer, longing for some kind of Bao bun magic to make another one appear.
Suddenly I smelt the ramen before I saw it, and as the bowl was lowered onto the table, and the Bao steamer taken in perfect unison, my husband and I exchanged a look filled with humor.
THIS was a big bowl?
As soon as it was set down my husband asked to order another ramen bowl for himself. The waiter seemed stunned at first and asked if we were sure; this is the moment I tried to figure out if our usual bowls of ramen that we’d had around the world where just huge, or if I was just a fatty with no limits.
With the second bowl ordered the waiter began to dish out the current bowl into 2 smaller bowls for sharing.
My teeth clenched together as he mixed up the bowl with a pair of tongs, and a ladle.
Anyone else would have probably watched on in admiration at his skills, but for me – someone who doesn’t like anybody touching or playing with my food – it was a pain staking couple of minutes.
With the ramen now divided into smaller bowls it was time to dig in.
First up, as always, was the egg test.
I dug down deep to uncover the buried egg, and shoved the whole thing eagerly into my mouth with not an ounce of shame – I know what I am #eggslut.
It was creamy, it was yolky, it was perfect.
They had passed the first test.
Next, the noodles, which we were told had been made in house.
These noodles where no joke, they were the perfect combination of soft and slightly al dente; I couldn’t get enough!
The next thing I noticed where the mushrooms hiding out underneath the broth like little mushroom ninjas; they where so flavorful and possibly soaked in soy sauce and mirin before being added (based on what I could taste) that I think I consumed almost a whole pint of them in just the one bowl.
The broth was definitely shoyu, as I tasted the saltiness of every sip, and I thanked the ramen gods for pure bliss.
My husband also seemed to be thoroughly enjoying the dish, as neither of us spoke, and continued to dish more and more ramen into our little bowls until the main bowl was no more.
Halfway through I found a little piece of bone – no biggy – which I discarded to the side on my drinks napkin.
With the first bowl finished our waiter came to take it away and I noticed his eyes dart to the small piece of bone; that’s when I realized you couldn’t tell it was a bone and it actually looked like a piece of meat, and as though I was a horribly messy eater to make it stretch all the way to the drinks napkin.
I became very conscious of how it must look.
I started to sweat; unsure of what to do with the bone situation.
A lady came over to refill our water and I noticed she too stared at the pork looking piece of bone; everyone was looking at the bone – I couldn’t handle it. I was stressed. With a poor attempt to redeem myself I made a little bone parcel in the napkin to try and correct the whole ordeal; almost sure that everyone was thinking about how messy I was; it really was no big deal, but I got a laugh out of the whole awkwardness of myself regardless.
The amount of time and love it takes to make ramen is beyond any culinary skills I have; the ingredients are so plentiful and vast that of course you’re going to get some pieces leftover when you have the final product made. There’s a reason so many people fail at ramen, and there’s a reason Drunken dragon has mastered the perfect art. If those bones are the key to the amazing taste, then heck – I don’t care if I find a whole leg in there; keep it coming! Drunken dragon has beyond a doubt advanced their ramen to the next level.
Soon after, the second bowl arrived.
Ding, ding, ding, we were ready for round two!
With determination we began to plow our way through the second bowl with our competitive egos; knowing full well that the shock on our waiters face after we’d asked for the second bowl would be no more, when he saw that we had easily destroyed the two, and we were infact not crazy.
The second bowl was just as fantastic as the first, and I found myself falling in love with every bite of this godly ramen.
My husband looked at me across the table and confidently said
‘We have to finish this bowl just to prove we can destroy a bowl each’.
I nodded in agreement.
We loved a good challenge, and if it involved ramen we were more than ready.
We were doing well, but halfway through I hit the ramen wall head on. It was hard, it was big, and my face smashed up against it at 100mph.
My stomach was running out of space, and with my wish of an expansion pack for stomachs still to be invented, I worried my time was up.
I knew that if we’d skipped the Bao buns I’d have sailed my way down to empty ramen bowl heaven, but as usual my eyes had been bigger than my stomach.
‘I may have to tap out, I’m getting really full.’ I quietly said to my husband across the table.
‘Push yourself’ he said back quickly and with passion.
I was taken aback, not expecting it at all in any way, and I burst out laughing so hard that I felt as though I could have puked with all the belly cackles coming out.
As I watched my husband go solo to take on the rest of the bowl, I was reminded just how grateful I am that he makes me laugh every single day – belly laugh – and that his sense of humor never ceases to amaze me.
This meal was a meal I wouldn’t be forgetting any time soon.
Between the most incredible Peking duck Bao buns I’ve had, to yummy ramen eggs, fun cocktails, fantastic ramen, and my husband that I love more and more every day; the night was a huge success.
We ended up recommending the place to friends who visited the following night and loved it just as much as we did.
With our bellies and hearts full we left Drunken dragon, knowing that one day we’d be back.
If you’re in the area you’d be an absolute fool to miss out on this one; I can guarantee it.
15/10 Drunken dragon; thank you for everything.
Until next time,
(Don’t forget, if you like what you see, follow my Facebook page @ A Hangry Wife.)