Thursday, November 16, 2017

麺屋福丸 (Fukumaru in Sasazuka)



Duck ramen. Is this the latest trend in Japan? I'm seeing more and more shops popping up that either focus on a duck-based soup, or offer a once-a-week limited "duck day" to customers.


Fukumaru opened in June of 2017, and boast a duck soup using famous Iwate Prefecture fowl.


Other ingredients to consider are Tokyo craft soy sauce and a homemade duck oil.


The upper-left on the ticket machine is for the shoyu ramen. I love the use of duck oil. Many bowls of ramen in Japan use chicken oil, giving a golden sheen to the top of the soup, and adding a lot of chickeny umami. Duck oil is like chicken oil on steroids. It can be heavy if not done right. Fukumaru does it right.


Though the shoyu was great, the paitan was the one that blew me away. The same stock is cooked over a stronger heat, drawing more collagen out of the duck bones. The end product is a creamy duck broth that was unlike anything I had had before. Again, I'll use the analogy; duck soup is like chicken soup on steroids.


And, yes, is has a bit of that amazing duck oil.


From left to right; Soy sauce, creamy, tsukemen, spicy tsukemen.

Cute baby seats!


This is one of my rookie of the year picks for sure!


Tokyo, Shibuya-ku, Hatagaya 1-9-6
Closest station: Sasazuka

Open 11:00-15:00, 18:00-23:00
Sunday 11:00-22:00
Closed Mondays

Monday, November 13, 2017

Shin-Yokoham Ramen Museum Renewal



Have you been to the Ramen Museum in Yokohama? If you have traveled to Japan and have an interest in ramen, you most likely have. Attendance is up in a major way over the last few years, evident by the tour buses that line up outside (pro tip, show up when they open to avoid a possible line).

Due in part to this newfound popularity, the museum decided to renew their 1st floor. Previously, their museum section was . . . lacking. No English and small print displays meant that most people just went straight to the basement for a bowl. Well, the new exhibit is the complete opposite. Full-length articles in both English and Japanese, beautiful photographs, and some well-researched history.


For their reopening reception, the museum made the oldest known recipe of ramen in Japan. Dating from the Muromachi period (室町時代), approximately 1336 to 1573, this recipe uses flour, salt, and kansui.


There are only a few written accounts of this recipe, and it isn't until Mitsukuni Tokugawa ate ramen in 1697 that more information comes out. But, hey, a recipe is a recipe, so let's try!


No fancy noodle machines back in the 14th century. This would have been made by a soba master most likely.


The press was here in droves.


Knead, roll, cut.


There is, of course, more information at the Shin Yokohama Ramen Museum. The soup used is a bit of a mystery, but would most likely have been a simple mushroom dashi.

A simple bowl that holds up a few centuries later.


The new museum has an entire wall of books. See anything you recognize?



It's a fun exhibit, and now that it is actually full of information, any self-respecting ramen nerd should check it out.


Of course, the basement is where the slurping is at, and the museum still houses a mix of permanent shops and rotating guests.


Up-to-date info on their site:

Thursday, November 9, 2017

桑嶋 (Kuwajima in Shimokitazawa)

らーめん 桑嶋


Kuwajima (or Kuwashima, sources differ) has been open since mid 2015 and adds a much needed bowl of excellent ramen to the Shimokitazawa landscape. I say much needed, but with Shimo being at the crossroads of both the Inokoshira Line and Odakyu Line, you could easily venture to dozens of other spots in minutes.


Kuwajima really brings it. Three bowls, all a bit different. If you can forgive their Engrish, the above sums them up perfectly.


The upper left is the creamy toripaitan, and it comes recommended by the shop. Just below that, in blue, is a fishy broth.


My friend, another ramen head from Osaka, went with the fish. Much bolder and in-your-face. That pork topping is killer. If you have an appetite, this is the one to get.


The chicken, on the other hand, is quite light. The side of wasabi is a nice touch, giving some kick to the creamy soup. Very chickeny, if that is a word. If you go with the special, you'll get extra chicken chashu topping, though for me it was a lot of food.


They also stock some counter-top condiments. Sansho pepper and a homemade konbu vinegar.


I should also note that Kuwajima is right next to the newly opened Ushitora beer bar. Apart from serving some excellent Japanese craft beer, they are open at 11:30am, something that is very uncommon in Japan. Grab a beer, slurp a bowl, and grab another beer all before 2pm!


Tokyo, Setagaya-ku, Daita 6-3-26
Closest station: Shimokitazawa

Open 12:00-14:00, 18:00-24:30
Closed Tuesdays