Thursday, April 17, 2014

しながわ (Shinagawa in Ikebukuro)



Shinagawa is an offshoot of nearby BASSO. If the connection is any indication, this should be an excellent bowl. The homemade noodles from this group are solid.


Your standard chukasoba. At 1000 yen for the special bowl (extra pork, egg, menma, and nori) it is a bit on the pricey side. Worth it?


Despite the rest of the ramen world raving about this bowl, I wasn't impressed. Not a lot of impact, and a huge amount of hot oil on the top. Yeah, the noodles were excellent, but I wanted them in a different soup.


The niboshisoba might be a better match, but I won't be going back to find out.


Tokyo, Toshima-ku, Nishi-Ikebukuro 4-19-14
Closest station: Ikebukuro

Open 11:30-15:30, 17:00-21:00

Monday, April 14, 2014

炭家 (Sumiya in Nakano)

花田流焼肉 炭家


I have heard that there are around 9000 places to eat ramen in Tokyo. This is, of course, counting everywhere ramen is served. Chain ramen shops, family restaurants (i.e. Denny's), Chinese dives, and in this case, Korean barbecue. Usually these outlying ramen shops don't make it to Ramen Adventures, because, well, they tend to suck.


Sumiya, a nondescript Korean barbecue place a few stops out of Shinjuku, proved me wrong.

The word 〆 (shime) can be added to the front of a menu item to indicate that it is something to be eaten after the rest of the food. In this case, the shimenoramen in question is an insanely kodawari bowl made with freshwater clams from Lake Jusanko in Aomori, breaking all stereotypes that non-ramen-shop ramen is bad.

Usually reserved for high end bowls of miso soup, these are some of the best of the best in Japan. Add to that noodles from Shimane Prefecture, and a simple Japanese broth made from high quality konbu and katsuo, and this was the ultimate shime after some fatty cuts of prime beef.


Apologies for forgetting to take shots of the meat. We were filming for an upcoming episode of オスカルX21! and I didn't have time to get the camera out. On air May 9th!


Wow, I was shocked by this bowl. Most of the time, shime ramen just means that you dump noodles into a pot of whatever was eaten before. Usually leftover soup in a hot pot type of dish. Most of the time, shime ramen is just a delivery method to get some post-meat carbs.


Shockingly good. The shop's meat specialty is a cut of A5 wagyu with garlic butter. This simple bowl was an excellent refresher.


The master was happy to show off the konbu, from the far reaches of Hokkaido, bought at tsukiji fish market.


With only enough seating for about 10 people, you might want to call ahead.


Tokyo, Nakano-ku, Numabukuro 4-32-6
Closest station: Numabukuro

Open 6:00pm until late
Closed Mondays and Tuesdays

Thursday, April 10, 2014

ソラノイロ Salt & Mushroom (Soranoiro Salt and Mushroom in Kojimachi)

ソラノイロ Salt and Mushroom


The 2nd official shop of long-time favorite Soranoiro continues along the same lines as the original. A few solid standards and some unique bowls as well.


Mushrooms are a theme, both in the decor and the bowls.


The chef's station is chock full of bits and pieces. To be specific, the regular menu offers a niboshi shoyu, a shio, a mushroom veggie soba, and a niku soba. That is just the regular menu. Expect limited bowls to be a normal thing.


The bowl of standard shio was, without a doubt, great. I'm, in general, not a huge shio fan, so I'm sure the rest of the menu will impress as well.


For an extra 150 yen, the shop has a fresh fruit smoothie. It was . . . healthy?


Bonus! I managed to go there again before posting.


The mushroom veggie-soba is on the crazy side. In the bowl - tofu, fried cheese, parma ham, chicken chashu, all in a cream of mushroom soup. Interesting. I prefer the original shop's veggie offering, but this one will do, especially if you are a mushroom fan.

Just about two minutes from the original shop.


Expect a couple more visits in the near future.


Tokyo, Chioda-ku, Kojimachi 3-4-3
Closest Station: Kojimachi

Open 11:00-15:00, 19:00-22:30
Saturday 11:00-15:30
Closed Sundays

Monday, April 7, 2014

アジアン麺 (Asian Noodle in Nishi-Shinjuku)



I pass by this shop every time I go to the supermarket. Asian Noodle isn't really ramen, per se. More of a thai noodle place.


But with an eclectic mix of Thai and Japanese (harumaki rolls along side fried chicken along side a goya-potato salad) this shop gets a spot on the site.




There was a mix of thin rice noodles and thick wheat noodles in my bowl. Not a combination you want to be slurping. And it only got worse, as the noodles dissolved into various states of sogginess.


One and done!


Tokyo, Shibuya-ku, Honmachi 3-41-12
Closest station: Nishi-Shinjuku-Go-Chome

Open 12:00-14:00, 18:00-2:00am
Closed Saturdays

Thursday, April 3, 2014

俺の空 (Ore no Sora in Shinjuku)



I wanted to hate this bowl. You see, Ore no Sora (My Sky!) had a bit of a media outbreak a few years back. Instantly, their porky bowl was the latest trend, fueled by TV talents who are paid to love everything. Most of the local ramen nerds, though, weren't impressed. Universally, they agreed that it lacked substance, and overrated was an understatement.


But I totally dug this one. Gone are the hour long lines, and I was slurping away mere minutes after arriving at their Nishi-Shinjuku branch.


I think I would have been unimpressed if I had just waited in a long line. But I didn't, so I wasn't.

The shredded pork is a nice touch. Everything, the pork, the onions, the negi, it all melds into a great, slightly sweet broth.


By the way, the original branch is in Takadanobaba, if that sort of thing is important to you.


東京都新宿区西新宿1-3-13 I&Kビル1F
Tokyo, Shinjuku-ku, Nishi-Shinjuku 1-3-13
Closest station: Shinjuku

Open 11:00-22:30

Monday, March 31, 2014

ロサンゼルスのつじ田 (東京も) Tsujita LA (and Tokyo)



Tsujita is the Los Angeles shop that finally brought a solid bowl to Southern California. At least that is what my California ramen otaku friends all say. Here is a quick side-by-side comparison of the branch in LA and the branch in Kojimachi.


Can you tell which is which?


Very different tastes. Expect heavier dried fish flavors in Tokyo, while the LA version was doing more with the pork.


The line in LA can be much longer, though that might just be a cultural thing. The 99% salaryman crowd in Kojimachi didn't linger with their bowls. The hip, LA crowd sat around for a while, ate half a bowl, and took the rest to go.

Yeah, you can get a ramen doggy bag at the LA shop.


Short review? Yep. The ramen scene in LA is still small. You should go if you live out there. This is a must-slurp bowl, at least until something better comes along.


The Tokyo branch, not so much. Very run of the mill, in my opinion, though the general consensus is positive.


Thank you for not calling tsukemen by the oft used "dip noodle" moniker.




Official Site (Los Angeles) Here

Official Site (Tokyo) Here


2057 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025, USA

2057 Sawtelle, Los Angeles, CA

Open 12-3 for lunch

Tokyo, Chioda-ku, Hirakawacho 1-4-11
Closest station: Kojimachi

Open 11:00-15:30, 17:00-21:30
Saturday 11:00-20:00
Closed Sundays