Thursday, August 17, 2017

玉ぐすく (Tamagusuku in Nagoya)

麺屋 玉ぐすく


Some ramen shops have a style that you'll never forget. One common theme is music. Ramen chefs tend to enjoy kicking back, and you'll find plenty of rock-and-roll ramen dudes out there. Some, though, prefer something a bit different.


In this case, I seem to have stumbled onto an Okinawan punk-themed ramen shop, in a rougher part of Nagoya.


The Okinawa part is apparent by the menu. Sokisoba as the number one menu item. But, unlike other Okinawan restaurants, this spot serves up more "standard" bowls; shio and shoyu make up the number two and three respectively. Gotta go for the soki though.


It wouldn't be Okinawa without their most famous condiment. Ko-re-gu-su is a mix of potent Okinawa alcohol called Awamori and red chili peppers. It is mega spicy, and a little goes a long way. It also gets you a little drunk.


Back to the punk. A constant stream of punk live plays on the shop's TV and speakers.


Autographs adorn the wall. Huck Finn? Anyone?


Sorry, I know nothing of the local Japanese punk scene.


But I can definitely get down to it while slurping some homemade noodles.


My intention wasn't to pig out, but pig out I did. Sokisoba with a side of fried rice. Good stuff. Sokisoba is often a simple dish; a clear broth, some noodles, very few toppings, and a side of stewed pork, called soki. This is how I like it, and any time I've had a bowl with too much going on, it was disappointing.

Simple and refreshing with an intense piece of meat. Rock on.


As I was just in town for a night, I couldn't resist another bowl. The shop serves a taco rice mazesoba, an easy choice for me. Taco rice is an Okinawan dish of, you guessed it, rice topped with taco meat, lettuce, and tomato.


In this case, cheese and a bit of spice as well. Mix it up and go to town.



Aichi-ken, Nagoya-shi, Chikusa, Imaike 1-6-8
Closest station: Imaike

Open 11:30-14:00, 18:00-24:00
Closed Sundays and some Mondays

Monday, August 14, 2017

東大 (Todai in Tokushima)



When in Tokushima, eat Tokushima ramen!


Ramen Todai is well known as the most successful Tokushima-style ramen shop in Japan. Not saying the best, by any sense, but with more than a dozen shops, they have certainly succeeded in business.


I hit up the honten, the main shop, before retiring to my (secret) campground for the night.


Creamy pork soup? Check.
Thin noodles? Check.
Stir-fry topping? Check.


And the raw egg that makes Tokushima-style so unique.

The ramen here didn't really strike a nerve with me. While other shops (Inotani being the most famous) command long lines with plenty of ramen nerds making a special journey, Todai is more of a late night, drunken eats kind of place. I was on my motorcycle, so I hadn't had a drop, but I could tell that the heavy soup and kick of garlic would help any theoretical hangover.

By the way, my secret camping spot in Tokushima is along the Komatsukaigan, if you are ever in the area.


Official site here.


Tokushima-ken, Tokushima-shi, Omichi 1-36
Closest station: Tokushima

Open 11:00-4:00am

Thursday, August 10, 2017

NOROMA in Nara



The debate rages on about which ramen is the best in Nara Prefecture. Some people opt for Mitsuba, with their mega-creamy soup and long lines. The rest say NOROMA. Presonally, I can't decide.


I spent the day touring around the mountains of Nara, something few people do. Most, especially tourists, take an express train from either Osaka or Kyoto, hit the famous Nara temples, and head home. They don't realize that this is an entire prefecture.


On the road, I met local Naran Momo on her Yamaha R3, a sexy little 321cc sports bike. When the conversation shifted to ramen, she actually said that Tenri and Saika were her favorites. Two shops I've never heard of. The hunt continues.


I arrived well early to NOROMA. It was my first time, and I was sure they would have a bigger line. Nope. When they opened at 6:30pm, there were only three people behind me in line.


Torisoba. Creamy chicken soup.


This bowl is indeed awesome. The medium-thick toripaitan, creamy chicken soup, is set apart by the intense chicken flavor. Simple, yes, but a very, very comforting bowl.

Noodles come from Mineya Noodles Factory (ミネヤ製麺製) a famous noodle maker that services the greater Kansai area.


Nara-ken, Nara-shi, Minamikyobatecho 3-1531
Closest station: Kyobate

Open 11:30-15:00, 18:30-21:00
Mondays 18:30-21:00
Closed Wednesdays