Thursday, October 27, 2011

あたりや食堂 - Atariya, Akihabara

雷々麺 - Rairaimen, ¥800

    Another newish store, opened in July, and another first for this blog - soupless ramen. This original recipe originated in Miyazaki prefecture and was created by the chef's father (who still runs a store in Kyushu). This brother and sister team came here to see how the store goes in Tokyo. Unfortunately, as you might imagine, there weren't many customers on a Saturday night, but I could imagine lunchtime on a weekday being pretty hectic.

    The chef was chatty and friendly and warned me that it was "chotto salty." Got it.

    As it turns out, soupless ramen can look a lot like regular ramen when it is served. However it pretty quickly turns itself inside out - particularly if you follow the how-to-eat instructions which recommend eating the noodles first then making an attack on the toppings.

    A pretty spicy affair and the sauce is punctuated by sweet, thickly-cut pieces of onion and chunks of satsuma age, a fried fishcake that hails from Kyushu. I'm not usually a fan of soft noodles but I think they were well-suited to this style of ramen.

     There's no ticket machine here - remember that you'll have to pay after you eat, just like a regular restaurant. I was halfway out the door before I remembered...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

麺や ひだまり - Hidamali, Sendagi

味玉和風塩らぁ麺 - Shio Ramen with Egg, ¥780

   A little off the beaten path and just down the way from one of my favourite not-so-well-known areas of Tokyo, Yanaka, is the pretty recently opened Hidamali. As the weather is cooling down it's obviously a good time for ramen. As such, the ramen magazines have hit the stands and in trying to offer a little variety I thought I would hit up a new store with a first for this blog - shio ramen. (salt)
   Being a new store in a quiet area on a rainy night, there weren't a great deal of customers, although it has a pleasant atmosphere inside and was definitely favourable to the rain. It's certainly not your average dimly-lit ramen store.

   And you can stay for a drink...

   or not...

   Shio is often the forgotten type of ramen with the recent boom (by which I mean a few years before I had ever eaten ramen) of tonkotsu gyokai tsukemen with flavour bursting from the bowl and double soups and all the new innovations one could imagine. Shio is thought to be the least interesting which leads some to think it's boring.

    But this one doesn't seem to be...

    Everything about this bowl of ramen was great. From one of the most flavourful eggs I've had to the light to the peppery flavoured soup, there was nothing boring about this at all. In fact, the soup is so complex that it is made from four different kinds of salt. I dare you to be able to tell the difference though.

    If you've still got some room left head upstairs and have a drink at a cool little bar where the menu is accompanied by the owner's reviews of recent films.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

ちゃぶ屋 とんこつらぁ麵 - Chabuton, Akihabara

とんこつラーメン - Tonkotsu Ramen, ¥680

    Some say that Akihabara is a must-visit part of Tokyo if you're visiting while others (including me obviously) would say that you must eat ramen while you're in town. So why not kill the proverbial two (three?!) birds with one stone and do it on the dining floor of one the largest electronics stores in the world, Yodabashi Akiba?
   As you're most likely aware, the big Tokyo department stores have restaurant floors occupying at least one of the upper levels and since Yodabashi resembles a department store in area, it stands to reason it will also have a few restaurants up on the 8th floor. Once you're there you can tell them how you really feel.

    The original Chabuton actually came into existence in the often forgotten (not by this blog) Arakawa ward, but has since moved on to bigger, but not necessarily better, things and can be found in electronics stores in Yokohama and Osaka. I guess most of them serve up something like this.

It's a pretty handy hakata style bowl of ramen with some pretty minimal, standard toppings and some sesame seeds floating around at the top. They don't seem to offer a great deal, aside from the odd one catching onto a noodle, since one doesn't normally chew on soup...

   Not that one needs to in order to finish a bowl of it...

Ramen Database

Google Maps

Chabuton Homepage

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

節骨麵たいぞう - Bushikotsu Mentaizo, Ikebukuro

節骨こってりらーめん - Bushikotsu Kotteri Ramen ¥680
   After a hard day of throwing a frisbee around (see drinking) in the park, you need to replenish your spent energy, and there really is no better way to do this than a nice bowl of ramen - particularly when you have good company. And so it was off to Ikebukuro with some friends to check out their local recommendation.
   Taizo specialises in tonkotsu gyoukai ramen, but by the look of the ingredients on display outside the shop it looks to be more gyokai than tonkotsu.

     Predominantly a ramen shop, it also sells curry and other goodies, like gyoza. The all-you-can-eat curry for ¥750 seems like a good deal, but that will have to wait until next time. The gyoza was a nice little appetizer before the main event though.

     Our ramen finally made an appearance...

    It was definitely more fishy than porky which is a nice variation on the theme. The kotteri part means it's a little thick and oily, but there was a perfect amount of fat floating around the bowl - not too heavy. And, it's fish, right? So it must be healthy. However, since this place also allows you to crush your own garlic, there was most likely a pungent aroma permeating our table. I didn't notice though...

Friday, October 7, 2011

斑鳩 - Ikaruga, Kudanshita

特製ラーメン - Special Ramen, ¥880

    Ikaruga is yet another of the Tokyo Ramen Street restaurants but I decided to go to the original store to see where they their made their name. Here in central Tokyo on a Friday night I was expecting a bit of a crowd, but the only wait we had was from a couple of high school kids who seemed to lack sufficient dexterity in order to use the ticket machine. Eventually... we made it in inside.

    The blue glass was just one of the few choices available. Selection was a daunting task. It is quite a good representation of the restaurant which seems to be a little less rough than most ramen shops. We decided that Ikaruga may be 'posh' ramen. However, we were seated at the counter which gave a great view of the kitchen and things weren't looking so posh in there.

    Not one to judge a book by its cover, we would just have to see how it looked when it arrived.

   Pretty good, I must say.

    The most distinctive feature of this tonkotsu soup is it's milkiness although it does feel a little monotonous once you've made your way into it. The fact that it doesn't leave you feeling as though you've practically inhaled both your recommended daily allowance of fat and carbs is certainly a plus though. We were buoyant to go for a bit of a wander after we had finished, which, by the way, was a relatively simple task.

   Ikaruga, is the name of a bird, the Japanese Grosbeak. I just hope there wasn't one in the soup as it wouldn't be as posh as what I thought.

Ramen Database

Google Maps

Ikaruga Homepage (It's crap)