Ramen to the Rescue! Hrímnir "Red Light" Pop-up at Hitchhiker

Copenhagen-based Hrímnir Ramen was in Oslo last night for a one-off “Red Light” ramen pop-up at Mathallen’s street food mecca – Hitchhiker. More than half the restaurant was cleared of tables, leaving only the tiny area behind the industrial roller doors open. For three late-night hours inside that small space, under the dimmed red lighting of paper lamps, it felt almost like being in a genuine Japanese ramen shop. American-Norwegian microbiologist David Quist was working the kitchen, with good help from the Hitchhiker team. On the menu: Høna ramen! Yes, that’s ramen with broth and meat from hens, not chickens, that would otherwise have ended up as waste.

Hrímnir Ramen chef David Quist
Hrímnir Ramen chef David Quist

Ramen to the rescue

Ever since I tasted David’s Nordic version of the Japanese noodle soup at one of Hrímnir’s first pop-ups in Copenhagen, I’ve been following his ramen project. Apparently, he must have followed me too, since earlier this year I got a message with the idea of an Oslo pop-up. Thrilled as I was about tasting once more my favorite ramen soup to date, I put him in touch with the Lava restaurant group. A few weeks later, the idea of a red light ramen pop-up at Hitchhiker was born. Then, when David came across the NRK TV-series FBI redder høna, the topic of the pop-up was decided. Save høna! Dead or alive.

Red Light Ramen
Red Light Ramen

New Nordic Noodle Soup

David’s passion lies not only in making great ramen – it’s even more about sustainability in cooking. So, while his ramen is made to be as authentic as possible compared to the original Japanese noodle soup, he uses only local and organic produce. As such, the Hrímnir ramen is actually a New Nordic noodle soup. The name, however, is old Nordic, meaning charred or covered in soot, as well as being in the name of the mythological God Odin’s wild boar (Sæhrímnir). “Our name is a signature that should be reflected in the flavor of the dish,” David tells me, “that’s why we torch høna just before we serve the ramen, to give it that smoky, almost burnt flavor.”

The ramen girls waiting for the real deal (not the plastic version on the table). Left to right: Silje, Hedda, and Madeleine.
The ramen girls waiting for the real deal (not the plastic version on the table). Left to right: Silje, Hedda, and Madeleine.
Out of the noodle steam: A ramen knight with a mission
Out of the noodle steam: A ramen knight with a mission

Høna Paitan Gyokai Ramen

David makes his ramen from scratch. The broth for the Høna Paitan Gyokai Ramen was a double soup. One part cooked on hen’s carcasses (obviously) as well as chicken feet. The other part a søl– (Icelandic seaweed) and shiitake (Asian mushroom) dashi. That’s pure umami! It was a long-boiled broth, which resulted in a thick, sticky, and opaque soup. In ramen terminology classified as kotteri (rich), and even more precise a paitan (opaque soup cooked on white bones). Potatoes were added for even more thickness and creaminess.

Høna Paitan Gyokai Ramen
Høna Paitan Gyokai Ramen
Timing those noodles to perfection
Timing those noodles to perfection

First up to enter the ramen bowl was tare (seasoning). In this case, a classic ramen flavoring, but mixed with mead (skål, Vikings!) and barley shio koji (fermented salt and barley). There’s also some chicken fat in there, a yeast garum (fermented sauce), as well as a bunch of other ingredients that adds either, saltiness, acidity, or umami flavor. In the end, what matters the most is that it’s “fucking delicious” as David describes it. Toppings included an ajitsuke styled egg marinated in a tangy mead concoction, pickled ramson capers, spring onions, crispy black kale, ramson oil, and pickled sunchokes (in a home-made kombu vinegar). Not forgetting enoki mushrooms! Davis is a mushroom scientist, after all. Finally, the breast of the hen had been marinated in a barley shio-koji, cooked and pulled before it was torched.

Marinated eggs
Marinated eggs

Hrímnir X Hitchhiker = Hot hot ramen!

The guys from Lava restaurant group share the same philosophy of cooking as David, and Hitchhiker being the best street food restaurant in Oslo was pretty much the perfect match for Hrímnir in Oslo. You’ll find ramen on the menu here quite often, especially for lunch. Thus, ramen logistics was not new for the Hitchhiker crew. Watch the video above to experience the controlled chaos of the ramen plating. It looks almost like a dance, and I guarantee you that the ramen tasted just as delectable as it looks!

Hrímnir X Hitchhiker
Hrímnir X Hitchhiker

Did you attend the Red Light event or any other ramen pop-ups by Hrímnir? Please share your experience in a comment below.

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