Dear DINE

Dear DINE 

I’m surprised at how pricey ramen is in restaurants compared to buying it from the grocery store. Why the mark up? 

– Angela S.  

Dear Angela, 

Many different types of restaurant dishes can fall into this cost confusion category. Aagya Subedi, chef & owner of Aagya’s Burmese Ramen, explained that the price of restaurant ramen reflects the labor and quality of ingredients used. I know you are thinking, “How could noodles be expensive when they are mostly made of eggs and flour?” The labor that goes into fresh noodles involves time to make the dough, let the dough rest, roll the dough, then either cut the noodles by hand or feed sheets of pasta one by one through a pasta cutter. The other side of this would be the cost of ingredients that go into each bowl, as bowls of ramen easily involve 30-40 ingredients. The depth of flavor in these dishes is much more elevated than that little seasoning packet from the store, so I urge you to go try a savory bowl at any of Omaha’s ramen shops!  

Dear DINE,  

My sister-in-law is coming to visit me this fall and she is vegan. What suggestions do you have for restaurants? 

– Christina B.  

Dear Christina, 

The perfect vegan day in Omaha should include breakfast at Omaha’s vegan coffee parlor, Amateur Coffee, which offers oat milk lattes, vegan pastries, and made-to-order gluten-free waffles or chia seed pudding. A new vegan lunch spot, Fauxmaha, serves loaded vegan hot dogs, a variety of sandwiches, and sides of tots with vegan ranch. Dinner in the beautiful dining room of Modern Love is a breathtaking experience in itself, and its exclusively vegan menu is well-loved by vegans and meat-lovers alike. You must try the nachos molo, fried mozzarella, mac and shews, and strawberry shake. In general, Omaha’s restaurant scene has grown to include many vegan options on their regular menus, in which I would also suggest exploring Oasis Falafel, Blue Sushi, Benson Brewery’s seitan wings, or the vegan arepa from The Hunger Block.  

Dear DINE,  

What is dry-aged beef? I see a few restaurants serving aged meats, but I don’t know what it means.  

– Doug W.  

Dear Doug, 

We reached out to Drew Statz, the Executive Chef of Monarch Prime & Bar downtown. Chef Statz explained that dry-aging meat helps enhance the natural flavor of the meat through water loss and transformation of the fat. The meat is hung to dry in a temperature and humidity controlled cooler that promotes safe bacteria growth that isn’t harmful. This process can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on the water loss goal, desired firmness, and how quickly the meat can breakdown its own collagen. While aging, the safe bacteria creates a shell on the outside of the meat, which is later discarded when preparing the meat to be served. Monarch typically ages its beef loin used for steaks for 30-45 days until the outside of the meat turns into a dark brown, almost purple color, and the inside turns a deep maroon. Chef Statz described the aged beef as having the fragrance of beef jerky with bleu cheese. For as intimidating as this process might sound, you will never know the rich flavors of dry-aged beef until you try it!  

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