Thursday, December 29, 2011

麺処 井の庄 - Inoshou, Shakuji Koen

味玉つけ麺 - Tsukemen with Egg, ¥880

    In the unlikely event that you find yourself both in Shakuji Koen and in need of a quick bowl of ramen then Inoshou is probably the place for you. Despite the drab exterior the large brick building that houses Inoshou is an entertainment district of sorts with a couple of pachinko parlours and a convenience store. Inoshou is in the basement.

   There will likely be a little wait when you get here - it's a pretty highly rated shop - but it shouldn't be more than a few minutes. You'll also be asked whether you want chumori or atsumori, hot or cold noodles. I went for the cold. The oddly shaped counter leaves a few empty spaces that they thankfully don't try to squeeze a couple of extra seats into. Of course this meant that the condiments and tissues were about one metre directly in front of me.

    I can see why this ramen is currently rated in the Top 20 in Ramen Walker magazine as everything about it was great. Though I would say that the noodles cooled the soup down quite quickly. Perhaps you can try the atsumori... The fatty chunks of chashu were different to what I usually see with tsukemen but everything in this dish complimented something else.

   The soup wari was one of the best I've had and added a little spice to it. Maybe it was channeling their other tsukemen which is an out-and-out spicy dish (辛辛). It's little a fun too as the staff trust you to do it yourself.

   So it's another tonkotsu gyokai tsukemen that I've tried here. But I would say that it's definitely one of the most unique. Definitely worth a try if you're into that kind of thing...

Monday, December 26, 2011

元祖中華つけ麺大王 - Ganso, Jiyugaoka

坦々麺 - Tantanmen, ¥850

   Being a lazy blogger, I tend not to find myself too far away from home in the search for ramen, (and recently I've been trying to revisit some of my favourite places) but on this particular day it was out to fashionable Jiyugaoka for a visit to Ganso on a recommendation.
   The shop seems pretty popular with the locals and there was a pretty good turnover of customers squeezing behind us while we were seated at the counter. And it definitely gives off the impression that ramen is essentially the people's food. There weren't any gimmicks or unusual ingredients to bring the punters in.
  Despite the fact that the shio ramen was allocated an entire page of the menu, I went with the single-lined tantanmen.

    A pretty nice bowl with a lot of sesame and the ground beef blends in well with the soup. It's difficult for me to have a tantanmen without comparing it to the amazing Toutenka which would probably be my default ramen store. But it was a good choice. Since my body was pleading with me not to eat ramen at all this particular afternoon I played it conservatively...

   Did I mention they also have freshly made gyoza?

   Jiyugaoka isn't exactly known for it's ramen but if you find yourself in the area...

Google Maps

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

朧月 - Oborozuki, Ginza

中華そば玉子入り - Chuka Soba with Egg, ¥750 (+¥100)

    As you're probably well aware, ramen is serious business. With around 5000 stores in Tokyo alone there is  not only a lot of competition, but a lot of variety between stores. This is pretty evident through the ramen alone but it can also be the atmosphere of the store and the way that staff interact with their customers. Here at Oborozuki, there was no interaction - the chef was dead serious, a point that is hard to conceal from your customers when they can sit at the low counter and, with nothing much else to do while waiting, pore over your every move. The chef didn't mind working alone though, his assistant was just that - pouring waters, removing empty bowls and making sure the orders were in the right place.

    Of course, you don't go to a ramen store to admire the aesthetics of the restaurant, a visit shouldn't last anymore than 30 minutes. You'll be back if it tastes good. With this at the forefront of our minds we decided to double our chances of finding a good bowl. The tonkotsu gyokai tsukemen arrived first. Which by all accounts was pretty good - everyone but me was slurping it.

  I went with the shoyu flavoured chukasoba.

   As per usual, I ordered an egg as topping, but this came with a little surprise, an uzura egg, Japanese quail. A little unsure of it, it was the first to go - it was a lot smaller and quite different to a regular egg. I could then set about my ramen. It was quite a filling bowl, perhaps it was the umami flavour which made it very wholesome. Some nice, curly noodles matched the soup perfectly too.

    Although Ginza isn't known for it's ramen, there are quite a few good shops around.  Just don't expect a fun time and a lot of smiles.

Ramen Database

Google Maps

Thursday, December 1, 2011

江戸前煮干中華そば きみはん - Kimihan, Uguisudani

特性江戸前煮干中華そば醤油 - Special Niboshi Shoyu Ramen, ¥900

    Yet another trip to a northern Tokyo ramen shop in the shitamachi area of Uguisudani, this time to fulfil another craving for niboshi ramen which, after eating at nagi and tomita shokudo, I'm experiencing a lot lately. The full title of Kimihan starts with edo mae, Tokyo style. This is usually reserved for sushi and references the old name of Tokyo (Edo) and the fact that the fish were caught in the area around Tokyo Bay. In saying that, I'm pretty sure that these particular fish weren't since Tokyo Bay probably doesn't have the purest water I've come across.

   With 'TEAM 102' emblazoned across their backs, you might have guessed that this store has some kind of connection to the famous Tetsu in Sendagi. And you'd be right... The signs around the shop confirm that they studied how to make tsukemen under the tutelage of Mr. Tetsu himself. This doesn't necessarily mean that the kitchen doesn't occasionally have some minor deficiencies. 

  Of course, with the cooler weather in Tokyo, the ramen was pretty much a no-brainer.

   The special part, tokusei, in the title essentially means that your ramen will have a little more of everything and in this case it seemed like a lot more of everything. In this case it was 4 slices of chashu, a couple of wontons and an egg cooked to near perfection.

    From the very first slurp of the soup the powerful taste of yuzu was evident, along with some small pieces of yuzu peel here and there. At first, this was a nice surprise and quite intriguing, but as the voluminous bowl went on it was perhaps a little too much yuzu for one day. Not surprisingly, I guess, it ended up tasting a little like tsukemen... Which isn't of course a bad thing.