Each week, Rose's Meat Market and Sweet Shop butchers three or four pigs. The meat becomes whiskey breakfast sausage, smoked pork chops, pancetta, porchetta, bratwurst, and chorizo. The bones? Those go to the same place: ramen.
Before relocating to Durham, Rose's owners, Justin and Katie Meddis, lived in San Francisco, home to the oldest of three remaining Japantowns in America. The couple dove into the Bay Area's food scene like noodles slipping into broth. Only when they moved eastward, to North Carolina, did they realize a good ramen can be hard to find.
But after a few noodle-less months, Rose's rolled out a new weekly lunch special. It's now their most popular one.
"We wanted to make ramen that we wanted to eat," Justin says.
Turns out, a lot of people want to eat it, too. Every Wednesday they do.
Two weeks ago, I stopped into Rose's a few minutes after it opened at eleven a.m. Nine people were already waiting for their food to come out, and more customers poured in behind me. The room reverberated with each new order: "Ramen," a woman said. "Ramen," a man said. "Ramen," another man said. "Ramen," I said. We eyed one another, almost competitively. (That day alone, Roses's served eighty bowls.)
Rose's rotates its ramen every three weeks and doesn't repeat a recipe for an entire year. The ingredients change with the seasons, so keep an eye out for the spring and summer flavors. (Green garlic, I'm coming for you.)
Winter challenges the kitchen to get creative—hence, the Japanese curry I had. Made with pork- and fish-based stock and from-scratch curry paste, the rich broth was as intense as gravy. Slow-cooked apples and carrots lent subtle sweetness and deep color to contrast the hillock of noodles.
Currently, Rose's is running a soy tonkotsu with oyster mushrooms, pork jowl, soft egg, and scallion. When I spoke with Justin late last Tuesday night, he had just set the broth on the stove. As it does every week, it stayed there, simmering and bubbling all night.