The beauty of street food is that it’s so vibrant and so steeped in culture. We love it because it fuels the many Ugandans who are always on the go. The same happens in other countries. But because of the distance, you might go your whole life not knowing what street food from across the globe tastes like. That is why places like The Great Indian Dhaba and now Yujo yatai lab are pretty important.
Yatai is a mobile stall in Japan, one where they sell stuff like ramen noodles that you can pick up, eat quickly and go. Think of it as street food.
Noodles are very popular in this part of the world, so much so that there are restaurants that only do noodles. Only. So noodles it was. Yatai lab makes their own noodles right there so fresh noodles was a new experience. This meal takes, i kid you not, 3 minutes to prepare.
First a lesson on how to use chopsticks.
Just don’t move the first chopstick, easy.
I used the spoon
This bowl might look small to you but its deep.
And in it is a small mountain made from mince pork, green onion, sweet corn, lettuce, noodles and the best soup ever, in that order.
When we were young and cried for food, our mothers used to give us more and warn “Eat it all and finish it, they call you a woman/man” Bakuyita omukazi! (Did your parents ever issue threats over food? I’d like to know) to mean that; Oh you think you’re so great? Best finish it! And then you’d eat and get full and almost always fail to finish. But having asked for it, you had to prove that you could. That was me. This dish is a lat.
I tell you i’m a sucker for soup. And this one, warm with just enough ginger was right on the mark. It makes you feel like your’e being hugged on both sides. Like you’re in a hug sandwich. This i think is what they call food for the soul. Food to eat when you’re heart is broken, food to definitely eat when you’re hangover.
The minced pork feels like a surprise in your mouth. I mean you already knew it was there but its just a sprinkling that when it pops up your’re like “Mmm”
Another reason it’s good for hangover. No strong smells
I didn’t touch it but the texture of the noodles was firm to the bite. Firm and full. If you have been eating these our noodles of 1,500, you will feel a bit sad at what you have been missing. I did. You’d expect it to be soggy with the soup but no. However, you are advised to eat it fast when it is still warm to get the best flavour.
With the sweet corn and the lettuce, the meal had several layers of ‘crunchy’, which is good and balances out the soup.
Do you know that that they rub the chopsticks together before using them? Just twice. That action of rubbing two knives together. It produces a strange musical sound.
Try as I might, I could not drain this bowl.
Noodles at Yatai lab at the Kurb go for between 15 and 20k. Eat here when you want food that makes you feel good. They deliver too.
Update: The dish is actually called Tantanmen not Tankamen as earlier stated. As Hanif Rehemtulla, a partner at Yujo told me, ” It originates from the Chinese “Dan Dan” noodles that are served slightly spicy and with some minced meat, since the old days. Japan adopted this name, and over time, it became known as “Tan Tan Men”. “Men” in Japanese, has nothing to do with gender, it actually is the suffix for a dish that has noodles. (“Men” = “noodles”).