Tuesday, December 17, 2013

麺処 花田 - Hanada, Ikebukuro

味噌ラーメン - Miso Ramen

    Anytime is a good time to get stuck into some miso ramen, but, let's face it, the winter is always the best and manages to keep you warm on even the coldest of days. So, on this not-so-cold day, it was off to Ikebukuro to join the line outside one of the more popular shops in the neighbourhood.
   Hanada appears to be a pretty well-oiled operation with 4 or 5 people behind the counter with each at their own station all helping to keep the line outside moving along. It has a very rough-around-the-edges feel and appearance isn't the highest priority and feels a little like sitting in a basement. But I hope they aren't thinking of getting rid of the dank.

    The ramen is a very thick, creamy style tonkotsu-miso and does exactly as you'd hope it would. 

   I was there a while ago and don't remember a lot else about it aside from the thick noodles and chashu.

    I wasn't there very long either, as you can imagine.

   A great bowl and definitely worth the visit if you're in the area. While you're lining up you can check the biggest pile of bean sprouts I've ever seen. I'm sure they go through a lot.

Friday, November 22, 2013

麺屋泳吉・花鳥風月 - Eikichi, Kasai

カリーつけ麺 - Curry Tsukemen

    Noodles and curry aren't the most common combination, but they're also not such an unfamiliar mix and most of the time we can see it in the form of curry udon which uses a soup based on Japanese style curry. However, Eikichi in Kasai, one stop from Nishi Kasai, the biggest Indian area in Tokyo, is doing something a little different and using an Indian style curry for you to dip your noodles into. So it's basically a combination of Chinese, Japanese and Indian cuisine in one dish!
   With a master who has a background in fashion design you would expect Eikichi, which also seems to double as a semi-Izakaya, to be among the more fashionable ramen shops, and it certainly is, with a well-planned interior and a little more attention to detail inside - such as the basket for your belongings being built into the counter stools.

   Here 'tis. I had been hoping to come here for a while since seeing it in a magazine a few years ago but never got around to it, so there was some anticipation... But that was mainly due to uniqueness of the soup than anything else. Overall it was pretty good, but I wasn't a massive fan - the noodles seemed a touch overcooked, and the soup became a little same-y towards the end, although the soup-wari was a nice change. There was a however a nice big chashu hiding at the bottom of the bowl.

   Still got it! Not an amazing bowl, but I certainly recommend it - For those that are either looking for a new tsukemen challenge, or those looking for a curry challenge.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

六厘舎TOKYO - Rokurinsha, Tokyo Ramen Street

特製つけめん - Special Tsukemen

    Having finally wandered past the jewel in the crown of the recently renewed Tokyo Ramen Street, Rokurinsha, without seeing a line of more than an hour it was time to see what all the fuss is about. Having said that, the line was still a good 45 minutes long...

   Which some might say is too long for a toddler, but not our intrepid couple above (looking down) who seemed content to have their crying daughter scream herself hoarse. Of course they knew she was making a scene, so they tried the "old let's-leave-you-up-the-other-end-of-the-line" trick and let her scream into our ears for a bit. Considering how much I hate lining up, this is not what I needed, nor what anyone else should have to put up with.

   I went with the slightly pricier tokusei tsukemen since it could be a while before I'm back, put on my paper bib and got stuck in. It has taken a long time to get to Rokurinsha, which is the originator of the popular tonkotsu gyokai tsukemen at its honten near Osaki station.

   It could have been the build up and the anticipation but I was left wondering what all the fuss is about. Sure, I finished the bowl and enjoyed it - the thick, chewy noodles and the shredded pork in the pricier bowl were both highlights - but I feel I've had better bowls of tsukemen (albeit from other very highly-rated shops). 
   If the knowledge that you've tried the original tonkotsu gyokai tsukemen is of concern to you, then it's worth a trip, but Tokyo residents are definitely spoilt for choice in this regard...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

らーめん工房 みそ玄 - Misogen, Shiraoka

特みそらーめん - Toku Miso Ramen

   Every now and then on a trip out to Saitama I get a recommendation to check out and this time it was Misogen, just across from Shiraoka station. This is quite a nice change since often the shops out this way can often only be accessed by car - which we used anyway.
   The stores around here often have a little more of a family-friendly atmosphere the ramen-nerd stores of Tokyo and there was even a high chair pulled up to the counter for the little ones. Meanwhile, the master of the place was busy cooking, clearing tables and working the register all on his own.

   They have a few different types on offer here - tokumiso, Hokkaido style miso and an interesting sounding tan-tan miso, all of which have a few different options themselves. This standard one was quite interesting itself and had a rather buttery flavour to it. Unfortunately they had run out of chashu for the day so we weren't able to have the full experience but I was pretty content with it. 


Thursday, September 26, 2013

一品香 - Ippinkou, Shimoda

エビワンタン塩ラーメン - Shio Ramen with Shrimp Wonton

   Another way to cool off in the summer is to head to the beach - although this method can be largely ineffective once the sunburn kicks in. So it was back for another trip to Izu, though a little further south this time to enjoy the much more beautiful (and possibly crowded) beaches of the popular holiday spot. 
   The local tour brochure was advertising a few of the different ramen shops scattered throughout the town and we decided that Ippinkou looked to be the pick of the bunch. There was, however, a very photogenic ramen served with an entire crab topping but I was a little wary of such intimidating-looking food.
   Ippinkou definitely has a more of a restaurant than ramen shop feel to it, but I think that the limitations on space in Tokyo are the main factor here rather than any preconceived notion of a how a shop should feel. We were seated on a table with a chain smoker who may have upped his intake because of the football world cup qualifier being broadcast.

  I was pleasantly surprised with this bowl. Ramen can be hit or miss at the best of times and in regional towns that aren't particularly well-known for ramen it is usually the latter, but Ippinkou could easily sit among the thousands in Tokyo. A great chashu and though I'm not usually a fan, the shrimp wontons were a great complement to the shio soup.

   I'd happily go back here anytime I'm in the area...

Sunday, September 1, 2013

けやき - Keyaki, Sapporo

味噌ラーメン - Miso Ramen

     One would think that a good idea to escape the summer in Tokyo would be to head to the cooler climes of Hokkaido, however there are a few things that could turn this seemingly brilliant plan on its head. Firstly, Sapporo can be pretty hot itself in summer - we were rather lucky in that respect though. Secondly, Sapporo is famous for its miso ramen which seems to be pretty much everywhere throughout the city and is much more suited to wintertime eating.
    Keyaki seems to be one of the more famous shops so that was where we headed (after a slight detour which led us to a massive car park and a ramen shop which was closed for the duration of our 4 days in Sapporo). A bit of a queue, but nothing to worry about. Inside the store led to another flaw in our plan - It was like a sauna inside. But once you're in, there's no turning back. Not even if you try - with your elbows locked into your waist and shoulder-to-shoulder with your neighbour you're stuck.

   My friend went for the chashu-men.

    Not ideal for a hot day but still a great bowl. There is nothing lacking and it doesn't feel  as if there is anything unnecessary either. A nice spice that only kicked with a few mouthfuls of soup and among the rest of the usual suspects in a bowl of miso ramen including some pieces of ground pork floating around. The chashu was also full of meaty goodness.

    It was definitely a sweaty experience but well worth it. There are definitely a few more I'd like to try up this way in the future.

Friday, August 16, 2013

らーめん 元山亭 - Motoyama Tei, Hiyoshi

冷やし塩らーめん - Cold Shio Ramen, ¥750

    So what do you do when you have a quench for some ramen at the peak of summer? For a lot of people (Not me!) the idea of soup is unthinkable, so you either go without, brave the hot soup, or have it a little chilled. Since Motoyama Tei was offering the later, we went with that one.
   There were a few people around for the awkward Sunday 4pm lunch(?), despite their being an abundance of ramen shops in Hiyoshi - which I'm certain is related to there being a Keio University campus on the other side of the station - and an interior that resembled a burger joint more than a ramen shop. The shop itself is an offshoot of the more famous shio ramen shop, Honmaru Tei, in Yokohama.

   It definitely provides the relief from the heat that you are looking for which, if it's your main purpose, can be a great thing but the ramen itself may not be for everyone. The noodles were quite firm and suited the citrus-tinged soup well - the soup, however, was a bit same-y and lacked some punch, so I added some yuzu paste to get it going.

    Not the greatest, but far from the worst and points for trying to adapt to the climate.

Ramen Database

Google Maps

Sunday, August 11, 2013

油そば専門店 万人力 - Banninriki, Iriya

油そば 並盛 - Regular Abura Soba, ¥600

   Every now and then you come across a ramen shop that is really into creating a instantly recognisable brand, and with T-shirts for sale for ¥3500 and a simple yet deceptively difficult to read name - is that Banjinriki? - written on everything, Banninriki is one of these places. There's also an interesting counter here with a walkway for the staff through the middle that kind of resembles a kaiten zushi  restaurant.

   The regular size is 140g of noodles which is usually good for ramen, but seemed a like a pretty small amount here. I should have gone for the next size up...
   Commonly with abura soba you are expected to mix in a little vinegar and raayu, chili oil to keep the noodles moist. The recommended amount at Banjiriki is to squeeze while making 1.5 revolutions. That seemed to be an optimal amount as I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

油そば専門店 浜そば - Hamasoba, Yushima

浜そばスペシャル - Hamasoba Special, ¥730

   Hamasoba may have the smallest shopfront I have ever seen. However, with the ubiquity of smartphones and applications, or アプリ these days, you don't have to worry about missing it. Just switch on your GPS and you will be directed to the nearest ramen shop from your current location. Being technically challenged though, I remembered walking past this one on my way to another ramen shop. Interestingly you face the wall when eating with your back to the kitchen. Well, not particularly interesting...

    No soup to be had here - Just some very firm noodles and a bunch of other stuff. It was quite a good, no-frills bowl. Definitely the type that would go down well after a bit of a drinking session.

Friday, July 19, 2013

牛骨らぁ麺 マタドール - Matador, Kita Senju

贅沢焼き牛らぁ麺しょうゆ - Zeitaku Shouyu Beef Ramen, ¥1000

    As I may have mentioned a few posts back, one of the popular ramen movements of 2011 or 2012 was gyuukotsu or beef-bone ramen, and leading in the popularity stakes has been Kita Senju's Matador. As you can see, they may have been expecting a few more customers but we were lucky enough to not have to wait and went straight in. My first trip here over 6 months ago wasn't so lucky and they had already run out of soup for the day.
  Being a somewhat famous ramen shop I couldn't help but go for the zeitaku shouyu (extravagant soy sauce) which comes at the rather extravagant price of ¥1000! There is also a shio one.

    There it is! I'd been waiting a long time for this one - gyuukotsu isn't so popular or even very well-known - and was curious to see how the pick of the bunch lined up against the more traditional flavours. It was pretty good. A definite level above the other gyuukotsu I had tried. There was an interesting egg in there somewhere, and some wild-looking menma, but the best touch was the shredded roast beef which would latch on to your chopsticks and would be floating around in your soup to the last drop.

    A good one. As I'm not much of a traditionalist I can see the place for this style of ramen, but I think that most people are not completely willing to accept it as more than a gimmick. Maybe we're still waiting for the next big thing in the ramen world to come along.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

空海 - Kukai, Itou

ラーメン - Ramen

    The aptly-named dish here at Kukai may describe the food, but it doesn't give you much of an insight to the experience of eating here. Upon entering I felt as though I had walked into someones house, with the TV in the corner surrounded by some old women sitting on some plastic outdoor furniture puffing away on their cigarettes. But it was a pretty friendly atmosphere.
    It actually seemed a pretty good gauge to the rest of Itou on the Izu Peninsula as it's a town that, while still a tourist destination (mainly for its hot springs), has seemingly passed it's glory days. Anyway, to the ramen...

    Not too memorable, but having travelled to some of the best in Tokyo that is to be expected. Just a standard shoyu type bowl. However, if you ever find yourself craving some ramen while in Itou this could be the place to go.

Kukai Homepage
Google Maps

Saturday, June 8, 2013

俺の麺 春道 - Ore No Men Harumichi, Shinjuku

中華そば - Chuka Soba

    Another blast from the past. This one is from Shinjuku and perhaps one of the most unassuming places that I have visited. It looks from the outside a pretty old and run-down local restaurant but it is the domain of the ramen nerd. After squeezing past another customer to take my seat, I sat down to the joy of a conversation between other nerds talking about which shops they have visited recently. But it was actually a lot more fun to watch the chef go to work in the tiny kitchen that customers can peer right in to.

    A nice creamy, standard type of tonkotsu, but with a hint of something different... Maybe it was a shrimp-y type of flavour. In any case, it didn't prevent the demolition of the bowl...

Ramen Database

Google Maps

Sunday, June 2, 2013

牛骨ラーメン 香味徳 - Kamitoku, Ginza

香味徳ラーメン, Kamitoku Ramen

 A good blogger is usually following the latest trends and reporting about them before they have become widespread and well-known. I do not do this - which means the trend of gyuukotsu, or beef ramen that took off in 2011 (or was that 2012?) was first sampled by me in 2013! Another thing a good blogger does is write their blogs soon after they have experienced whatever it is they're writing about... Let's just say I don't remember when I went here. But I don't remember coming home last night either, so it's all relative.

   One thing I do remember is that this place had a one coin ramen on Sundays so ¥500 was pretty reasonable. It was certainly quiet inside, but Ginza doesn't generally have the reputation of a ramen mecca. I know I enjoyed the bowl but it was somehow different. It seemed more like a bowl of pho than ramen. I hope that it also customary to drain all the soup from a pho too...

Ramen Database

Google Maps

Kamitoku Homepage

Monday, January 14, 2013

Ippudo Noodle Express, Tokyo Soramachi

赤丸豚骨ラーメン - Tonkotsu Ramen

    Weaving through the crowds over at Tokyo Sky Tree on a Saturday evening can be fun, but the chances are you'll be waiting outside for a while if you want to go to a restaurant. Luckily there is also a food court inside the Soramachi building that is separate from the restaurant floor and home to Ippudo Noodle Express.
    As you can imagine,  there is very little waiting time here. They obviously have a simplified menu and can just keep churning the bowls out, although the easier menu didn't prevent the staff from messing up our order. This meant we waited about 2 minutes... Not too bad.

     The akamaru tonkotsu ramen here is actually quite different to the regular branches. It had a little less punch than the ordinary Ippudo and quite a bit more abura floating around the top of the soup. No problems getting to the end of it though.

   You can't expect a lot from a food court and this ramen probably exceeded those expectations, but I would much prefer to wait the extra five minutes.