Thursday, February 23, 2017

火の国 文龍 総本店 (Kinokuni Bunryu in Kumamoto)

火の国 文龍 総本店

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You'll need a car to get to many good ramen shops outside of Tokyo. Sorry, that's just the truth of the matter. Maybe you could figure out the train, then hop a bus or two, then walk if you want to make it to Bunryu, one of Kumamoto's most famous shops.

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The upper left of the ticket machine is tonkotsu black. There's a red option somewhere to the right, but I wasn't going to tempt fate with an unknown spicy bowl.

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The upper left choice is also labeled as こってり - thick. A handwritten sign above says that it is actually 超こってり - super thick. Perfect.

My friend got the thinner あっさり version.

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By the way, thick in this case means a healthy mound of seabura back fat on top. My kind of thick!

My kind of ramen.

Kumamoto ramen is rough with full flavors. Lots of pork and lots of garlic. Think of it as your standard Kyushu tonkotsu ramen plus.

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Be careful with the minced shoyu garlic, a staple of Kumamoto ramen shops. A little goes a long way, and you will stink for the rest of the day.

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Really love Kumamoto, not just for their ramen, but as a travel destination in general.

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And some of the happiest people in Japan.

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Case in point.

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Map of 4 Chome-2-47 Toshima, Higashi-ku, Kumamoto-shi, Kumamoto-ken 861-8041

熊本県熊本市東区戸島4-2-47
Kumamoto-ken, Kumamoto-shi, Higashi-ku, Toshima 4-2-37
Closest station: Drive!

Open 11:30-15:00, 17:30-22:30
Closed Tuesdays

Monday, February 20, 2017

金田家 (Kanadaya in Fukuoka)

麺処 金田家

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My 2016 bucket list of ramen, a list you can find here, is sadly undoable by the end of the year. I blame Fukuoka. The prefecture's top ranked spots are all in remote locations, with odd hours, and none of them match their days off. So on a recent road trip, I picked one shop, Kanadaya, the highest ranked shop, to check off the list.

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Actually, they exist overseas in London. Hey, I recognize that car!

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I had very high hopes for this one. It was 2016 that would change my mind about tonkotsu ramen in Kyushu. I'd never, in the eight or so years of Ramen Adventures, had a stellar bowl. Plenty of great ones. Eights and even nines, but never a ten.

I had my first ten at Genki Ippai. I had my second at Kanadaya.

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This was pork perfection. The soup is buttery and smooth, without any funk. Chashu sliced so thin that it would dissolve if it wasn't lovingly placed on the sides of the bowl. Just a touch of the standard green onion and kikurage mushroom.

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The egg was next level.

I'm sorry to say that this shop isn't so convenient. About an hour from any major city, and that is if you take the bullet train. Even longer if you take a wallet-friendly local. But if you want the best, you have to work for it in Kyushu.

Actually, they have a couple branch shops in Koba (here), Hiroshima (here), and central Hakata (here). I love the vibe of the main shop, in the middle of nowhere.

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Map of 1 Chome-4-3 Ōhashi, Yukuhashi-shi, Fukuoka-ken 824-0003

福岡県行橋市大橋1-4-3
Fukuoka-ken, Yukuhashi-shi, Ohashi 1-4-3
Closest station: Yukuhashi

Open 11:00-15:00. 17:00-20:00
Closed Thursdays

Thursday, February 16, 2017

三丁目そば (Sanchome Soba in Okinawa)

三丁目そば

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I'm sure I've complained about travel in the past. Well, I'll do it again.

My weekend gig sends me all over the country. This is a great opportunity to slurp. I took advantage last year, when they sent me to Okinawa in November, to slurp Yanbaru, Stripe, and Kishimoto. Head down early on a Wednesday, spend three days cruising around slurping noodles, and then head back.

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But this time, I had an engagement during the week, so I was only in Naha, the main Okinawa city, for a night. I asked my fellow Awamori drinkers at a food stand near the hotel if there was a good shop, and they said the only one open was Sanchome. This was my only choice for Okinawa's sokisoba.

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Just past Chocolate Milk Street.

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Wow, I forgot how cheap eats are the further south you go. Only 450 yen for the standard bowl.

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I went with the 700 yen version, which included a few more toppings.

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Meh is my review. I've had some great food on Okinawa, so I'm not pulling any punches. Sokisoba is always done with a very light soup, which was almost flavorless in this case. The toppings, the trifecta of Okinawa, weren't the best. Fish cake, pork belly, and rib meat were present, but nowhere near as hearty as hoped.

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See you next year. My 2017 goals include taking full advantage of my working situation. If I get sent to Okinawa, I'll block off a few days for noodles. Okinawa requires time and transportation. While Naha is packed, the best noodles are on the other side of the island.

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Map of 3 Chome-26-1 Kumoji, Naha-shi, Okinawa-ken 900-0015

沖縄県那覇市久茂地3-26-1
Okinawa, Naha-shi, Kumoji 3-26-1
Closest station: The airport?