Sunday, November 8, 2015

蒙古タンメン 中本 - Nakamoto, Okachimachi

蒙古タンメン - Mongolian Tanmen

    Nakamoto is not your typical ramen restaurant, but it does seem to be one of the more well-known and is the first place anyone mentions if the conversation turns towards spicy ramen and has a number of branches around the major hubs of town. This one is in Okachimachi is one of a cluster of ramen shops under the Yamanote line tracks.

   The soup is tanmen, which is a more traditional type of noodles from China that comes with stir-fried meat and vegetables, but the real fire comes from the Mapo Doufu, a dish from the Sichuan province of China which famed for being the home of all sorts of spicy creations.

   It was definitely the spiciest ramen I've had, and alarmingly was only a 4/10 level of spiciness according to their menu. You'll definitely want to keep one hand on your water while you're slurping away.

Friday, October 23, 2015

カラシビ味噌らー麺 鬼金棒 - Kikanbou, Ikebukuro

カラシビ味噌ラーメン - Spicy Miso Ramen

   If you've got a little familiarity with kanji or Chinese characters you'll notice that the first one here is the character for "demon." With that knowledge, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that the folks here at Kikanbou are serving up some spicy ramen.
   Arriving at lunchtime, it's no surprise to see a queue, but it seemed to move pretty smoothly with the staff collecting your pre-purchased tickets to keep a steady pace. You do have some choices to make about how spicy you would like it. When in doubt, go with the normal one. Futsuu... 

   It wasn't over-the-top spicy (if you go for the standard level), but I guess that you have to be a lover of all things spicy to get the best out of it. Even this one had a slight tongue-numbing quality to it, too! Some tender chashu, and some thick noodles to soak up that miso-y goodness. But my favourite touch had to be the baby corn perched up high on the mountain of bean sprouts.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

博多ラーメン長浜や - Nagahamaya, Nippori

博多ラーメン - Hakata Ramen

    I was super excited to see a Hakata-style ramen shop open only a stone's throw away since this was the style that began the ramen obsession for me.

  The smell was certainly authentic  (If you've ever walked past a tonkotsu ramen shop you know what I'm talking about.) but in this case the soup itself seemed to be a little too pungent. 

Unfortunately I'll have to continue to venture further afield to get my Hakata fix.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

めん処 羽鳥 - Hatori, Nippori

しょうがらーめん - Ginger Ramen

   Hatori is one of the ramen shops that I walk by on a near daily basis that didn't really seem too attractive to me and kind of run-of-the-mill, but then I noticed that they had a unique ingredient so it went on the list.

   The little mound in the middle is the ginger. It is a polarizing taste, so needless to say Hatori isn't for everyone. 

  It worked for me. I was a little worried that the ginger would be a bit of a gimmick, but it was pretty subtle overall and the ramen as a whole was pretty enjoyable.

Friday, February 27, 2015

みそ味専門マタドール - Matador Miso, Kita Senju

贅沢濃厚味噌らぁ麺 - Dense Luxury Miso Ramen

   Laziness has prevented me from writing this post in a timely manner, but it hasn't prevented me from subsequent visits to Matador Miso. A spin-off from the lauded Matador, also in Kita Senju, this branch has a completely different menu and offers a seemingly more traditional ramen, but with a modern, matador twist.

   Is that roast beef? In keeping with the beefy theme that the other store has, Matador offers some roast beef chashu with this more expensive, topping-laden bowl alongside the more common minced meat that you usually find with miso ramen. I've actually skipped out on the pricier version the other times I've been and gone with the more simple bowl, which is also a great choice. The renkon (lotus root) is a little different and the tomato really matched the soup.

   Finishing this one to the last drop wasn't even a question. I'm not a big fan of ramens over ¥1000 as a general rule, but I can't see how they could keep this one under, so they'll get a pass there.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

けやき - Keyaki, Sapporo

コーンバター味噌ラーメン - Corn Butter Miso Ramen

   I generally try to avoid writing a second post about the same place, but when you've come all the way to Hokkaido you sometimes have to make exceptions. I hadn't actually planned to go to Keyaki again, but on a subzero New Year's Eve there weren't a great deal of choices. The guys at Keyaki obviously didn't see the new year as a reason to shut up shop and were open until well past midnight. We had arrived at around 8, just early enough to avoid a surge of customers, but not early enough to avoid the queue altogether. Thirty minutes or so in Sapporo seems longer than in Tokyo.

   I went with a different choice to last time and opted for the butter and corn as extra toppings. It didn't make a great deal of difference, to be honest. I think it was all about the warmth of being inside and the hot soup this time. Pretty great ramen. The only criticism I have of this place is that the counter has at least one too many seats - it is doable, but eating with your elbows tucked in isn't the most enjoyable way to demolish a bowl of ramen.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

与ろゐ屋 - Yoroiya, Asakusa

味玉ラーメン - Ajitama Ramen

   The best way to enjoy a bowl of ramen is on an empty stomach. This is especially true if you know that you'll be having a bowl later on - the anticipation can reach fever pitch in that few minutes between placing your order and being presented with that wonderful bowl of glistening unhealthiness. This is exactly how I was feeling the morning I went to Yoroiya, just a stone's throw away from Tokyo's famous Sensoji Temple in Asakusa.

   Being in such a well-trodden tourist area it seems to be friendly to non-Japanese speakers so you won't have too much trouble ordering. The problem is that it's not one of the places I would recommend. At the very least I wouldn't get anything with an egg: I'm not sure whether I caught them on a bad day or it's always like this, but the eggs had to be ejected from the bowl. Finished the rest though.

Monday, February 2, 2015

煮干しそば とみ田 - Niboshi Soba Tomita, Higashi Washinomiya

徳つけ - Virtuous Tsukemen

   This place may or may not look familiar (probably the latter judging from the pageviews) - we've been here before, but that was when it was under a different name, Tenpu. It seems that in the meantime the owners have remained the same but also mixed up the menu. It is now serving a niboshi shoyu ramen. 

  Of course, being warm at the time of year I went and not having done any research on the matter. I chose the toke tsuke, which is what I had last time.

  It may have been a little different from last time. It was still fishy, but also seemed a little sweeter than what I remembered. Either way, they would be silly to mess with this one too much. They're certainly onto a winner here. Soup wari was up there too.

Monday, January 19, 2015

ラーメン蜂屋 - Hachiya, Asahikawa

しょうゆラーメン - Shoyu Ramen

    One of the nicest things about domestic travel in Japan is sampling the local food and, on top of that, the regional variations of ramen. It is especially enjoyable when you can visit the place that was one of the pioneers in establishing a city's ramen tradition. And so it was with Hachiya which began life in Japan's coldest city in 1948、albeit after starting as ice-cream shop. (Hence the 蜂 - as in hachimitsu, honey.) Why not try some gyoza too!

   Hachiya is in a little alley just off one the main streets in Asahikawa, among a slew of other eateries and bars, not too far from Asahikawa station and easy to find - You've got to love the grid steet planning in Hokkaido! The wall is covered in autographs from celebrities that have popped in over the years. There was a customer inside the restaurant who had clearly recommended the place to their fellow diners who was taking great delight in their enjoyment. 

   So this is what old ramen looks like! One of the key points of Asahikawa ramen is the layer of oil on top of the soup that traps the heat in and keeps your noodles warm in the minus temperatures of winter - Not such an issue in the air-conditioned modern world, but a tradition worth keeping. Interestingly this bowl started off really good, then went great then back to really good - I'm not sure what this means but I usually enjoy the first few slurps the most. Thank you!

Monday, January 12, 2015

暖暮 博多中洲店 - Danbo, Fukuoka

ラーメン - Ramen

   A trip to Fukuoka wouldn't be complete without trying some Hakata ramen. Actually eating at a yatai, one of the many food stalls that dot the city in the evening, would be first on the list, but it's definitely a close race - at least for a ramen nerd. I could have done some more research but ended up going with something nearby when I was on the way out of town. Danbo was a pretty stinky place; the pork bones cooking will do that, but it goes out of your mind when the ramen comes - which thankfully does not smell.

   I just went for the standard ramen which comes another little bowl for you to get your kaedama, a second helping of noodles to help you finish your soup off. I'm not sure if it is a deliberate attempt to get you to buy more but Hakata-style ramen places always tend to be a little light on the noodles, or it could be due to their thinness. 

   Pretty good overall. It was a little on the spicy side so I would just go with the standard one rather than their spicy one. I only went here, but you're spoiled for choice in this city.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

桂花 本店 - Keika, Kumamoto

桂花ラーメン - Keika Ramen

    A few days in Kumamoto meant a sampling of the local take on ramen would be in order and a quick bit of googling led us to the Keika honten. I can't quite remember if they mentioned in the window they had been there since 1957 or 57 years, but as of 2014 it's the same thing so we're in luck. Keika also has a few shops in Tokyo, but there is nothing like the real thing. Or so they say...

   It felt like a bit of a 1950s diner inside and seemed to be a haven for those wishing to eat alone. Unfortunately it's another place where I'm wondering how close what they're serving up now is to the original recipe. Fifty-seven years is a long time for things to change and the part-timers there didn't seem to be the master craftsmen of a famous ramen shop. Either way it wasn't a bad bowl and the garlic oil mixed in with the tonkotsu soup was pretty yummy. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

東京タンメン トナリ - Tonari, Ueno

ジャージャータンメン - Jya Jya Tanmen
From the photographs you can see that it was quite a while ago that we were here. It was Tonari's special summer dish, jya jya tanmen. A few veggies and some thick, chewy noodles topped with a spicy sauce.

Not completely sure on the origins but I'm guessing it's an adaptation of a Chinese dish. We're all on the internet here so I'm sure we can find out. Anyway, you mix it together like so...

After that you're free to enjoy as much as you like.