Saturday, November 3, 2012

ラーメン凪 煮干王 - Nagi, Shibuya

味玉煮干しラーメン- Niboshi Ramen with Egg

     I'm well aware that I have reviewed the Golden Gai branch of Nagi, but being one of my favourites I couldn't help visiting the Shibuya branch after hearing about it. It opened in February so I can't say I was completely on top things but got there eventually. Like the Shinjuku store it's a pretty overpowering smell of niboshi but not enough to keep the customers away... We arrived just as they opened on a Sunday evening but by 10 past 5 all the seats were full. Almost as tempting as the ramen itself was this button...

    It was a long wait for the ramen with this, but once it arrived my mind was quickly back to business.

   And the obligatory close(r)-up.

   So it's basically the same as the other branch but seems to be presented a little differently with a dollop of some special sauce on the chashu. It also includes the signature ittanmomen (いったんも麺) which is a very flat, wide noodle. Not the easiest to slurp... 

    Finished. But this bowl will leave you thirsty for the next few hours.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Japanese Soba Noodles 蔦 - Tsuta, Sugamo

味玉醤油そば - Shouyu Ramen with Egg, ¥850

    With the weather starting to cool down the ramen magazines are back on the shelf introducing all of the new shops and some of the old, and Tsuta is the store taking home all of the accolades after opening in January 2012. The master's father once owned a famous ramen shop and despite his son's best efforts to not follow in his footsteps, after a stint in the corporate world, he returned to the ramen world. It was also a return of sorts for me having lived in this area a few years ago.

    With a pretty wide variety on the menu (including a red chili and tomato ramen) it can be a hard decision to make, but I went with shouyu ramen. I think it is a pretty good barometer as it can vary quite a lot, as opposed to miso ramen which is always good. Anyway, a pretty simple looking bowl can hide lots of things and this was no exception with the standout being the noodles which are made in-house. They had a very natural taste and seemed quite similar to soba. Could be something in the name after all...

   A nice bowl and definitely worth checking out if you're in the area. It's another shop following the recent trend of 'posh' ramen, but there is nothing wrong with that at all.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

三田製麺所 - Mita Seimen, Shimbashi

つけ麺 - Tsukemen ¥700 (plus toppings)

     Friday night in Shimbashi is usually just a sea of white shirts wandering around trying to find a place to eat and drink, and this particular evening was no different as we made our way to Mita Seimen, a reasonably well-known chain around Toyko. These guys have done away with a ticket machine but everything else is standard ramen, well, besides the basement seating. It's almost semi-Izakaya.

   The menu wasn't very descriptive and the tsukemen didn't seem to have (m)any toppings so we decided to go with recommended chashu, menma and egg side dish... Too much for one photograph...

    As it turns out, there was plenty of stuff hiding under the surface of the soup. I guess pork bone soup isn't that transparent after all. To be honest I was pretty pleased with Mita Senmai, the soup was very solid, the noodles chewy and sticky and I didn't leave with a feeling of regret. Not bad. Although I do remember the soup wari being pretty average.

Ramen Database

Google Maps

Mita Seimen Homepage

Sunday, September 2, 2012

ソラノイロ - Sora no Iro, Kojimachi

特製ベジソバ - Special Veggie Soba

    Since opening in June 2011, Sora no Iro has been one of the most hyped shops in Tokyo with some hailing it as the best new store of the year. Having a master that graduated from the famous Ippudo certainly doesn't hurt either... Anyway, it was probably about time I visited.
    With a bright and lively atmosphere inside and bottles of alcohol on the counter it almost a resembles a small Izakaya where you can stay and have a chat, but the jar of rubber bands on the table to help customers keep their hair out of their food suggest that people are here for serious eating business.

      Although I visited during the Olympics while they had a special 'Olympic' tsukemen, I went for the Veggie Soba which I had been craving for 12 months... Don't let the name fool you though - The Veggie Soba is as vegetarian friendly as your regular bowl of ramen.


    But that's not so say that there aren't a lot of interesting and different vegetables here. I can safely say that this was the first time I have had broccoli and capsicum in a bowl of ramen (definitely the first time together). The soup has a home-cooked vibe to it that wouldn't be out of place on a cold winter day while the noodles are wider and flatter than normal.

   A thoroughly enjoyable bowl and I'm glad I made the trip, but I ended up leaving thinking that I probably won't be back if I'm craving ramen. As much as I love the fact that you can add anything to it and call it ramen this seems a little too far. I did savour the experience though...

Saturday, August 18, 2012

麺や 七彩 - Shichisai, Tokyo Ramen Street

喜多方ラーメン - Kitakata Ramen

     Another visit to Tokyo Ramen Street that again happened by chance so why not, eh? This time to Shichisai which is a pretty popular store - particularly for it's chashu... Although the hype does semm to have died down a little and on a busy Sunday afternoon was one of the least crowded stores in the strip.

    They had a pretty large variety of different soups and I went for the Kitakata ramen. The first time I had this style of ramen was actually in Kitakata in Fukushima prefecture, but that was before my ramen nerd-dom had really kicked in so I can't remember much about it. I do remember liking it though... This one seemed pretty good too.

   And the obligatory chashu close-up.

   The most distinguishable feature of Kitakata ramen is the noodles which are flat and curly. They also tend to be pretty chewy... and delicious.

   I was pretty impressed with Shichisai. The soup was quite simple which suits this style of ramen and the chashu was, as expected, right up there with the best - very tender. Would I go there again? Probably...

Ramen Database

Google Maps

Tokyo Ramen Street Homepage

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

麺屋武蔵 虎嘯 - Musashi Koshou, Roppongi

味玉つけ麺 - Tsukemen with Egg

     If you think the name looks familiar then it probably does - This is the third shop from the Musashi family that I have visitied. Although these visits are more of a coincidence than a desire to search them out specifically. This one was just stumbled across when looking for something anything to eat for lunch. Despite carrying the same, in my experience each Musashi differs greatly from the others. The do each seem to have a theme though. This one is tigers.

     Being right in the heart of Roppongi you would expect Koshou to cater to the clubbing crowd, but since it closes up at 10pm you might have to stop by before you hit the tiles. (If that's what you're into.) It did seem to have a healthy stream of people coming through and the ticket machine ranks high for ease of use. It has pictures on the buttons!

    The tsukemen itself was pretty good. A shoyu soup that was quite refreshing in the warmer weather and noodles similar to the store in Ueno. Albeit a little more natural tasting... The soup wari was also very refreshing and a nice way to finish it off. Although it did cause another sighting of the tiger...

Sunday, July 22, 2012

富山ブラック 麺家いろは - Iroha, Ikebukuro

ブラック味玉らーめん - Black Ramen with Egg, ¥880
    Lunch with Brian from Ramen Adventures turned out to be quite the adventure with Iroha located on the 12th floor of the Tobu department store in Ikebukuro which took about 20 minutes and four attempts to reach. Each time I ended up in a different building. Oh well, now I know...
    Iroha originated in Toyama and specialises in a black shoyu ramen and also a shrimp ramen dish, one of which they may have even won an award for...

    Ramen isn't your standard fare on the restaurant level of department stores which are usually filled with other 'classier' restaurants, but as the ramen world becomes more and more competitive and diverse, Iroha didn't seem at all out of place... 

   If I'm not mistaken this looks like it was the black style ramen. For all of their awards (One by my count) Iroha didn't quite live up to its reputation. A pretty solid bowl but seeming to lack something extra. I am usually a big fan of peppery ramens too... Is it worth the effort of navigating a massive department store?
I'll let you decide...

Monday, June 4, 2012

支那そば 天風 - Tenpu, Higashi Washinomiya

徳つけ - Toku Tsuke, ¥700

     It's unfortunate, but sometimes a trip out to a ramen shop can be met with disappointment. I don't mean whether you like it or not but whether you can actually eat or not. 

    Tenpuu, just a few minutes west of Higashiwashi Nomiya station, was the culprit this time, although closing for the purpose of trying to perfect their ramen was a perfectly acceptable reason.

    So it would have to wait for another time which isn't necessarily the worst thing in the world when you live in a city with 5,000 or so ramen shops. We eventually made it back almost 8 months later...

    Yet another of the ever popular tonkotsu-gyokai variety tsukemen. This one was probably more fishy than some of the others I've tried. But it was definitely worth the wait, although it's not as though I abstained from ramen for the duration so there wasn't in fact any waiting at all. 

    Now I know that a visit to these depths of Saitama is unlikely (2 stations before Ibaraki and 3 before Tochigi) but it's a great little place and you might also find one of the best onsen in Kanto out there...

Saturday, June 2, 2012

京めん 壱慶 - Kyomen Ikkei, Ueno

味玉ラーメン - Ramen w/ Egg, ¥800

    If you haven't stumbled upon this page or read about ramen before, you're probably aware that different areas of Japan have different styles of ramen. Some areas even have more than one! In saying that, today's ramen was Kyoto style, which differs from the image of Kyoto as the subtle, traditional home of Japan. This was a greasy tonkotsu-shoyu type ramen.

   Overall it was a pretty average bowl of ramen. This is reflected in the often empty counter while the masses queue outside Musashi Bukotsu which is located just across the road. This is probably made worse by the fact that it is quite a large ramen shop. 

    There was nothing particularly memorable about it, apart from being a little spicy, but it wasn't the worst in the world. I think the midnight closing time might attract the after drinks crowd when it doesn't really matter what your ramen tastes like.

Monday, May 21, 2012

塩専門ひるがお - Hirugao, Tokyo Ramen Street

塩玉らーめん - Shio Ramen w/ Egg, ¥850

    Another visit to Tokyo Ramen Street and another failed attempt at lining up for the famous Rokurinsha which seems to always be an hour or so long. But since this is 4/8 I'll soon be able to get the whole set. This will certainly be fulfilling... Hirugao was chosen as the backup plan since it is famous for it's shio ramen.

    I don't remember a lot about it, but it was a little more complex and layered than your average shio ramen. So it could be guilty of having just a little too much going on at once. But there were no problems getting the job done.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

中村屋@West Park Cafe - Nakamuraya, Koshigaya Laketown

味玉塩ラーメン - Shio Ramen with Egg, ¥800

     What do you do when you have a national holiday on a Saturday? You go to the biggest shopping mall in the country, that's what! Actually, I am in the minority as I am one of the people who doesn't frown at the wastefulness of a holiday on the weekend since I'm usually at work. Anyway, amongst the hustle bustle of the bargain hunters and the salarymen dads spending the day with the family you can find a few ramen shops.

    Hmmmm. Not many people seemed to venture out to the outlet mall part of Laketown and we basically had the restaurant to ourselves. Much like the outlet stores themselves, Nakamura's prices were comparable with their counterparts in the mall proper. So you know you're not getting any factory seconds....

     The recommendation was a shio ramen, and since I was in the midst of a personal shio boom, I was happy to oblige. Again, I have a bit of a backlog of posts to write up so I can't remember this one too well, but I do remember liking it...

    Worth a visit if you're in the deepest depths of Saitama...

Google Maps (Needs an update)