Wednesday, October 15, 2008

のんきや (Nonkiya in Okutama)

のんきや



On the shores of Lake Okutama in the far west of Tokyo there is ramen. I didn't think there would be many good shops out here. Usually you find a couple soba or udon noodle makers in the mountains, but ramen isn't too common.



But I was wrong. Luckily my Touring Mapple had the 411. Mapple is like the Japanese version of Thomas Brothers maps. They have maps for everywhere in Japan. The Touring Mapple series is designed for motorcycle riders. Hot springs, budget hotels, and of course good cheap food is highlighted. So when I saw Nonkiya Ramen a few kilometers ahead I had to stop.



The ramen was a standard shoyu. But the hadnmade noodles were really excellent. Springy and firm.

The shop overlooks the lake. At one point, a 3 year old girl runs in to the shop screaming "Obasan! Obasan!" Then she ran up to her grandma (my waitress) and gave her a freshly picked clover. Next stop on the little girl's journey was an Anpanman cartoon. She didn't even skip a beat at the lone foreigner in their countryside family noodle shop.



On the way out, I noticed this sign. It says there are 125 ramen shops in Okutama. I'd be better off completely ignoring this. To me it's a challenge. Dozens of ramen otaku, guidebooks in hand, taunting me into more ramen searches.

Okutama is the end of Tokyo. The train stops and you can't go further. How they are able to have a published book about ramen in this area is beyond me.

But this just hammers in the point. Ramen is a never ending thing in this country. Your next bowl may be on the ground floor of your apartment building, or hidden in the mountains.