Thursday, December 18, 2008

Merry Christmas

Happy Holidays. I'm heading back to California for 3 weeks, San Francisco and Los Angeles. I might eat some ramen out there, but to be honest, I'm feinding for some Mexican food. But we'll see. A few good English ramen blogs (look to the right) are based in LA, so I might have to check some out.


ぶぶか (Bubuka in Kichijoji)

ぶぶか - 吉祥寺

I'd been here before, and I remember it was really good, and really bad at the same time. How can that be?

Looks pretty damn tasty. Well, this is abura ramen. Abura is the floating bits of fat that form when making the soup. Many tonkotsu shops will strain out the fat, since... well... it's just globs of oily pork fat. But other shops actually specialize in this stuff. It's silk smooth and tasty, but you will feel like crap after eating too much.

To add instult to injury, almost everyone who came in this shop got their ramen with メーヨ topping. That's mayonaise people! Why stop with half a liter of artery clogging fat chunks when you can add mayo.

I had the bubuka special, which comes with 3 thick slices of their pork, which they grill on a little burner before serving. The pork is up there with the best of the best, it's so good. My advice here is to eat the pork, noodles, and other toppings, then maybe nurse the broth a little, but don't try and finish it. It's hard to do, but your body will thank you.

Bubuka is hella crowded at night with drunk salarymen. Kichijoji is a bit of a transport hub into the west of Tokyo, so a lot of people come through here on their way home.

Keep you eye out for the instant version in a supermarket near you. Compete with mayo.

凪 (Yaki Cheese Ramen at Nagi)

凪 - 渋谷

Nagi is now my regular ramen shop. I teach a private lesson nearby every Tuesday, so it just makes logical sense to eat here every week. One of the cool things here, besides the だれやま set (beer or shochu with a side of barbecued pork and bamboo shoots) is that they have over 50 things on the menu. Of course, I recommend the house ramen, but I've got time to branch out.

Today was 焼ーチーズーラーメン, fried ramen covered with cheese. They used the thin, stiff Hakata style noodles, fried it with the tonkotsu soup, and covered it with cheese. There were also little chunks of pork inside. Yeah, it's as good as it sounds.

*Years later... the menu has changed and you can't get this anymore. But you can get it at the Nagi Nicai shop!*

Saturday, December 6, 2008

博楽軒 (Hakurakuken in Inokashira)


Just outside the station I use is a little ramen shop. It's never crowded, and I'm never hungry enough to go in. But today I needed ramen.

You see, I had just finished the annual JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) and felt like celebrating. Celebrating with ramen.

So I went in. One of the best things about this shop is that it is run by a little old lady and a little old man. I always see them when I walk by. It seems like the shop is only open when they feel like opening it.

Inside, it was just me and another old lady eating. Eventually, another old lady came by to chat with the owners. It was pretty much an old lady ramen party. Everyone involved was over 80 years old today. Imagine spending your golden years running the neighborhood ramen shop, just chatting with friends and making the occasional bowl.

So even though the ramen was pretty normal shoyu soup, the air of this place was fantastic. The master even mustered the courage to talk to me about Obama on my way out. It's a good thing.

Chen Ping in Tachikawa

The Grandia building in JR Tachikawa station is home to a funky Chinatown. Yeah, Chinatown. Hmmmm, maybe more of a China food court. Take the escalators to the top floor of this department store and you are treated to about 10 Chinese restaurants. Half are dim sum places, others are random chinese food, but one, Chen Ping, is a ramen shop.


The taste is almost like Vietnamese Pho broth. Salty and spicy. The taste of cilantro went well with the shrimp and fried pork bits that were in the bowl.

Nice to have something different, but the fact that I was eating in a department store kind of took away from the magic.

From JR Tachikawa, take the Granduo exit. It's on the 7th floor in Chinatown.

Monday, December 1, 2008

School Lunch 12/2... Ramen!

(I don't always have my camera, and have to resort to my cell phone)

Today's Junior High School lunch. Ramen noodles with some chashu pork and a mystery soup. On the side, those are 大学いも (university potatoes?). Also served with an apple and milk. Ramen doesn't really match with milk (stick with water), but the sweet fried potatoes do.

The soup was a sort of random thing. More like real soup than ramen broth. There were lots of carrots and bamboo shoots.

I had the 大盛 size with a couple extra plates of potatoes and an extra 2 milks.

I did a small survey of the kids I ate lunch with this day (about 30 thirteen year olds) and they actually prefer miso ramen the most. Adults are like 90% for tonkotsu, which makes sense.

Ever had ramen served at your school?