Monday, May 20, 2019

E.A.K. in New York


I didn't plan on crushing any ie-kei ramen on this trip to NYC, but we got involved with some good sake at Sake Bar Decibel, and EAK wasn't far away.

Ramen x Beer. Yes! And no. Personally, I don't drink at ramen shops. I'm in the mindset that ramen shops are a get-in-get-out affair, and nursing a beer isn't in line with that mentality. But that neon sign is sweet.

Will this shop make my best-of NYC list?

EAK, spelled out, is pronounced 家系. Iekei ramen hails from Yokohama, originating at the infamous Yoshimuraya. It's Japan's eastern-style tonkotsu ramen, and it is intense. While Kyushu style tonkotsu is thick, this stuff is much, much thicker. The thick soup is matched with thicker noodles, topped with a trifecta of green spinach, nori seaweed, and negi green onion. The chashu is divine.

So what about this New York 家系 shop?

Props for their design, the shop is full of fun tidbits.

But first, ramen.

This one is awesome, and I would have never thought it. Iekei is a rather dirty style, full of fat and flavor, garlic and a touch of greens. As long as the funky doesn't get too funky, you've got a winner.

If I was giving out awards, this would be a late night bowl to keep in your back pocket.

Well slurped.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

アジア食堂パクパク (Pakupaku in Shinjuku)


This shop is only a three-minute walk from my front door. One minute if I run. Why would I run? I won't lie, sometimes I wake up late and run the short distance from my bed to Nishi-Shinjuku-Gochome Station to catch the subway. I have yet to be late for work or an appointment, but I have come quite close.

I was reluctant to come here. The previous shop in this building was called Mojito Table. They grew their own mint and served mojitos alongside a Thai / Western bar menu. But the service was terrible, and I got a bad vibe. Also, the mojitos were very overpriced and nothing special, so I vowed to never return. By the way, if you want great mojitos in Tokyo, head to 808 Lounge in Shimokitazawa. And tell Uno-san I said hello.

Back to my local spot.

Creamy tori paitan topped with some roasted chicken. I personally don't like chicken skin inside of ramen; I think the texture is too slimy. So once I removed the skin this one was ok. I don't dislike chicken skin, but that raw smell is something I try and avoid. Crispy chicken skin yakitori is one of the best things in Japan, but that's a different world.

So all in all, a bowl you might like. The shop is in a busy part of town, but down a secret alleyway, so I don't know if their business will work.

It looks like they do more of an Asian menu at night, so I'm not sure if they are still connected with that old mojito spot.

Monday, May 13, 2019

航海屋 (Kokaiya in Shinujuku)

航海屋 新宿店

I've been here many, many years ago in 2011, but was invited by Sebastian to come back. This was one of his favorite shops back in the day.

Nothing has changed. It's still a grungy shop in the heart of Shinjuku.

They still serve a heavy chicken and niboshi soup.

The still top their deal with a ton of tasty chashu.

They still have photos from their glory days of being featured on television by the big names in the ramen world. The guy on the right says it's the best ramen for a hangover.

They still have some great Engrish going on.

And though their other three or four shops closed, they are still serving up some tasty noodles.