Thursday, August 25, 2016

レストラン ラ フィネス (Restaurant La FinS in Shimbashi)

レストラン ラ フィネス


What the?!?! Is that ramen?

You bet!

La FinS is an upscale French restaurant specializing in the harmony of both local and exotic ingredients. Chef Keizo Sugimoto has spent his life cooking, studying in both Japan and France before opening La FinS.

So why the ramen? Well, it's offered as an addition to the regular course menu. And just like the cuisine here, you never really know what you'll get.


Here, roast pigeon breast is topped with copious amounts of black truffle. The glass keeps the intense aroma from escaping.


Finished with a cream sauce to make Sugimoto's own distant relative version of Carbonara pasta.


And then, as if this weren't enough, a side of quail and bear meat confit.

The noodles come from a nearby noodle maker, but the dish is pure FinS.


Next is the cold ramen. One of the first things that strikes you is the bowl. La FinS has impeccable dinner wear; handmade plates and dishes from artisinal craftsmen. The bowl for this one, though, is a freshly frozen slice of bamboo trunk. Yes, it was frozen.


Soft-shelled turtle broth with matsutake mushrooms and abalone up top.


Suddenly, Chef Suimoto appeared and dumped sub-freezing sansho pepper into the mix.

Like I said, the ramen can be added in addition to the restaurant's course menu. We talked, Chef and I, about the other ramen in his repertoire. Ise ebi bisque, uni creams, and anything with heavy umami came into the conversation.


Keep this one in mind for those special occasions.

Official site here.

Monday, August 22, 2016

麦苗 (Muginae in Omori)

Homemade Ramen 麦苗


The newest kid on the block is Muginae, just a few minutes from Omori Station. A hot new shop on the super-convenient Yamanote train line? I'm there!


I actually ran into a famous ramen critic by chance the day before, and he clued me into the new shop's opening. Thanks Mr. らおす!


Muginae's m.o. is to follow the awesome trend of using very high quality, very specific ingredients in the bowl. Free range chickens from Yamagata give the broth a solid base, with a tare made from Nagano and Hyogo craft soy sauces.


Noodles are made in house with Japanese flour. Of course, the entire bowl is devoid of any chemical seasoning.


It all adds up to a stellar bowl on Tokyo's south side. Go for the deluxe bowl (the most expensive of the three) and get all the fixings.


An oft overlooked aspect of ramen shops are their bowls. Here, the bowls are handmade by a local artisan. Very cool to have some handmade pottery holding my noodles.


They also have a limited-to-a handful-a-day rice bowl topped with fresh fish from the neighborhood fish monger. I'm loving the dedication to the block.


I just hope the location doesn't hurt their business. The Yamanote line is the most convenient line in Tokyo, but I can't imagine what you could do in Omori.


Well, now you have an excuse to find out!


Map of 6 Chome-11-10 Minamiōi, Shinagawa-ku, Tōkyō-to 140-0013

Tokyo, Shinagawa-ku, Minami Oi 6-11-10
Closest station: Omori

Open 11:30-14:30, 18:00-soup runs out
Sunday 11:30-16:00
Closed Thursdays

Thursday, August 18, 2016

むじゃき (Mujaki in Mito, Ibaraki)

麺屋 むじゃき


Mito is a fairly large, fairly famous city a little over an hour outside of Tokyo.


Most people wouldn't give Mito a second thought, but having been here a few times, I can vouch for it as a nice place. The most known part of Mito, and the place that 99% of Tokyoites come here for is the famous garden, which is full of blooming ume plum trees sometime in February or March. The city even opens a special train station for the express train, so you don't need to set foot anywhere besides Kairakuen Garden.

But like I said, Mito is nice. I spent a few days here many, many years ago, hanging out on the banks of their lake, watching the swans (Mito has a large number if black swans), and relaxing.


Like any town in Japan, Mito has a few famous ramen shops. Mujaki draws a line, so try and get there early.


The mujakisoba, a thick chicken soup, is the one to go with. Check the pink row on the ticket machine.


The also offer any menu item with shrimp flavoring, something I'll try if I ever make it back.


Homemade noodles, of course.

Mujaki was tasty, though the 30 minute walk from the station, in the opposite direction of anything Mito has to offer was a bit far. Sure enough, most patrons drive.


Map of 1 Chome-5-31 Higashidai, Mito-shi, Ibaraki-ken 310-0818

Ibaraki-ken, Mito-shi, Higashidai 1-5-31
Closest station: Mito

Open 11:30-14:30. 18:00-21:00
Closed Wednesdays