On any afternoon or evening, friends and regulars join Anthony Lopiccolo, chef/co-owner of Goed Zuur, and the Five Points bar's other bartenders for one of the rarest beer experiences in the region: a rotating sour-beer menu of about two dozen drafts and more than 100 bottles.
But on Sundays, there’s an extra draw for Goed Zuur’s in-crowd: the secret(ish) ramen menu.
The menu isn't long, and it's fairly unofficial — just two pieces of paper that hang in the window and by the bar listing the ramen ingredients for the day. The two ramen bowls available each Sunday are more than enough for Lopiccolo, who works on prepping the ingredients incrementally throughout the week.
Lopiccolo started serving ramen about a year ago to make his Sundays at work more pleasant.
“I fucking hate working Sundays, and I love working with noodles,” said Lopiccolo. He figured if he made noodles, his friends and regulars would visit more, making the day more like hanging out. And at least on the day we visited, that result was evident.
Lopiccolo serves two types of ramen bowls: mushroom and pork. The mushroom ramen has a red miso-lemongrass broth that gets additional flavor from veggie scraps that have been roasted on sheet trays. The broth and noodles are topped off with a seaweed salad, marinated vegetables, kimchi, a soft-boiled egg and mushrooms he finds each Sunday morning at Pacific Mercantile Company downtown. The egg can be left out to make the ramen vegan.
The pork broth is made not with bone (as is typical), but with the charcuterie scraps left over from a week of slicing cured meats for Goed Zuur's regular menu items. “These are expensive scraps,” the chef notes, since he’s particular about the products he uses on his meat and cheese boards.
Additional charcuterie odds and ends are roasted to top the ramen, along with roast pork belly (which Lopiccolo makes exclusively for the dish), seaweed salad, marinated vegetables and a soft-boiled egg.
To get the thick mouthfeel that usually comes from boiled pork or chicken bones, the chef uses a sturdy seaweed called kombu in the broth.
In a restaurant that celebrates the aging process in its meats, cheeses and beer, it’s not surprising to find that Lopiccolo has applied the technique to his broth. When he gets down to the last four quarts, he makes a new batch using the remaining liquid, tracking the batch's age. Currently the mushroom broth is on its eleventh batch, and the pork is on its fifteenth.
“One thing you can’t fake is age,” he explains as he notes the batch number in Sharpie on the bottom of the hanging paper menus.
Lopiccolo usually makes enough ingredients for thirty ramen bowls each Sunday. If you want to guarantee a bowl, plan on getting there early (Goed Zuur opens at noon on Sundays), though the kitchen doesn’t always run out. “Sometimes we run out in the first four hours; sometimes it’s an all-day thing,” he adds.
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Lopiccolo says he doesn’t foresee the ramen making it into the regular daily rotation. “I tried to do this as a way to get my friends to come in,” he points out. “I never intended it to be brought to the public. It was a friends-and-family kind of deal.”
But the public is paying attention. In August, Lopiccolo was nominated by social-media followers to participate in the Ramen Throw Down at the Hanger at Stanley Marketplace (most of the other participants applied for the contest). He came in second in the judges' selection, losing to ramen star Thach Tran of Ace Eat Serve, and took third in the people’s choice voting.
If the covert Sunday-only ramen is what draws you in, you can add to the hush-hush allure by asking about the off-menu sour bottle selection to go with your soup. But there’s also good news for drinkers who can’t get behind sour beers. Goed Zuur recently added a selection of non-sour beers, wine and liquor. Don’t expect an Old Fashioned or anything fancy, but there are now alternatives to the extensive collection of acidic brews. Our recommendation? Talk to the bartenders about your preferences so they can help you find a sour beer just right for your palate before you fall back on your typical drink of choice.
Because the folks at Goed Zuur have certainly put a lot of thought into what pairs best with pork and mushroom ramen.