There is a street in the heart of downtown St. Pete, Central Avenue, that is the most blended area that I have come across next to the Old Port. There is everything from Antique stores and breweries to various restaurants up and down this strip. You can find just about any type of food here like Thai tea sandwiches to comfort food. On one of my most recent trips down this street I saw an interesting sign that I have not seen before. It was made of metal and read Buya Ramen. My inner ramen fiend was freaking out! When I got home I had to look it up and thank goodness that I did because it was a brand new restaurant that was going to open in a few days. It worked out perfectly that I had the day it opened off from work, so I knew I had to go.
When I walked in for lunch the music was fitting and I was greeted by the lovely hostess who sat me immediately. I was sitting on a bench seat surrounded by this rustic bar setting and in front of me was a stunning mural that looked straight from a scene one would find in Japan of women making noodles and dancing around. This laid back environment made it the perfect setting for a quick solo lunch. The one page menu with more than enough options was placed in front of me along with an extensive list of cocktails, Japanese Whiskeys, and Sake. The first ramen that caught my attention was the Crispy Duck Ramen and below that the Pork Belly Ramen. I was torn between the two so I thought of my brother, Mitchell, who loves duck so I had to try it out for him.
As my ramen was being placed in front of me, a large cloud of steam engulfed my face and my mouth instantly watered with the anticipation of the umami flavors that were about to drown my tastebuds. I cleared my palate with the Oolong Tea that I had ordered and with chopsticks and ladle in hand, I slurped away. The duck was perfectly crisp and braised. The broth was the most pleasant balance of salty and savory. The 4 different types of mushrooms I counted heightened the broth even more. The noodles were long, tender, and perfect slurping material. I loved how authentic this ramen was and how the ramen was presented. The large wooden ladle was the most enjoyable/fun way to slurp my broth in place of a plain 'ol spoon! I was approached by one of the owners who asked me how everything was. I told him that it was some of the best ramen I have ever had. Now THAT is a compliment!
Stay Hungry y'all (yes, after living in the south for 6 months the y'all bug bit me) and keep checking back for some updates from down here the Sunshine State!!!