Who’s Your Daddy Ramen? A Food Truck with Soul
It was a threatening-rain spring day when I wandered the Thursday Market in Hawthorne Park, and possible rain is plenty excuse for me to crave a bowl of good ramen. I even happened to have my own dad in town with me for a visit, so I just couldn’t ignore the synchronicity. Daddy Ramen is a simply designed and smartly branded truck. The wood-sided exterior and bold logo are clear and calming. To me, it offers a promise of quality, carefully prepared food. From the gathering of people already eating and even sitting on the curb to dig in to their bowls, I could see that promise was being delivered on. I ordered three dishes for us to try: Bacon and Egg Mazemen, the Vegan Ramen, and a Banh Mi sandwich.
While ordering and waiting, I chatted with owners/chefs Phoenix and Lichen. They are a kind, beautiful couple, and were happy to share their story. Phoenix told me that they embarked on this food truck journey knowing pretty darn close to nothing about the industry. It all came from their love of making good ramen, and with the help of some friends and a lot of hard work, Daddy Ramen just celebrated a successful first anniversary.
Running a food truck is no simple feat. The vision, drive, and determination needed to succeed as a restaurant on wheels is formidable, and my hat’s off those who take the risk. For Phoenix and Lichen, I see great things ahead Daddy Ramen has that clear vision—they know who they are and what they want to feed us. It’s a noodle truck with soul.
Ramen is a pretty underappreciated dish. Many people hear the word and likely think of 70¢ packages of dehydrated noodles which they may or may not have subsisted on at some point in life. But real ramen, though a “peasant” dish from its beginning, is a deliciously simple comfort food. Ramen is a bowl rice or wheat noodles, usually with broth, accompanied by various combinations of veggie, meat, egg, and aromatics. With a dish so seemingly straightforward preparation is key, since there isn’t much for a chef to hide behind in a simple bowl of ramen. It has to be cooked correctly, and those simple flavors have to be in balance.
The Bacon and Egg Mazeman is a specialty broth-less ramen. It has wheat ramen noodles, smoked sesame-crusted slab bacon, a soft-boiled egg, nori (dryed seaweed), and onion jam. The mazeman packs a deep flavor with a bit of sweetness, especially when you get some of that onion jam. The salty smokiness from the slab bacon balances out the sweet, and the green onion ads that bright bite that makes green onion such a favorite way to top off so many dishes. And the egg, with it’s soft yolk, is excellent in a bowl like this. When you break into it, the yolk seeps out and adds a rich creamy element to sauce up those noodles. Definitely comfort food.
The Vegan Ramen—from the second I saw it, it’s been dubbed “rainbow ramen” in my head. This bowl is a perfect example of how we first eat with our eyes. The colorful portions of snow peas, corn, delicately cut tri-color carrots, and greens are just beautiful to look at. This is a wheat-noodle ramen (though they offer gluten-free options!) with a very light miso broth. The noodles are done just right; slippery, chewy, and impossible to eat without slurping. This dish was for my super health-conscious dad, who wanted me to thank Daddy Ramen for not over-salting the broth. And I’ll thank them for making my dad happy. Overall a great veggie option and solid dish.
The Banh Mi. So help me, I’ve been talking all about ramen because this is a goshdarn ramen truck and ramen is amazing, but, their Banh Mi sandwich was my favorite dish. Not only is it a smart choice to have a sandwich on the menu, but they absolutely nailed it. I’ve had Banh Mi many times. I’ve missed Banh Mi since moving to the Rogue Valley four years ago. Then here comes Daddy Ramen, giving me honestly the best Banh Mi sandwich I think I have ever had. Banh Mi is a Vietnamese sandwich on a soft roll with meat, pickled vegetables, and herbs. Sound weird? Go eat one. The thick slices of chazu pork (braised or roasted pork belly), lightly pickled veggies and jalapeno, fresh cucumber, and herbs (cilantro, mint, basil) combine to be a wonderful balance of fresh, flavorful, and a bit spicy. The crunch of the cucumber with the tender pork and soft roll put this sandwich right where is belongs on a comfort food truck. While all the dishes I tried were well done, this one ensured that I’ll be stopping by Daddy Ramen every chance I get.
Overall, Daddy Ramen has shown itself to be a standout among the food trucks in the Rogue Valley. In a short time, it’s already found its place offering something unique yet approachable to anyone looking to taste something a bit different. I’ll be on the lookout for Daddy Ramen, and I hope they continue to bring their thoughtful, fresh food to our community. We’re loving it.
11 am – 2 pm, Tuesday – Saturday
325 S Riverside Ave, Medford