Tuesday, March 31, 2009

ぼたん (Botan in Takadanobaba)


(from Takadanobaba station Waseda Exit, go left and walk up the road for about 4 minutes, past about a dozen other ramen shops)

You walk into Botan and are hit with the smell. I've heard about some people hating Hakata style ramen because of the stinky smell, but I had never really experienced this. That is... until Botan.


"Like a good swiss cheese," is how a friend described it. Yes, thats perfect. It was like the swiss cheese I bought from a cheese vendor on the border of France and Switzerland in the city of Chamonix back in 2002. This cheese had been aged in a cave and was covered with a layer of wax and dirt. Cut into it and there you go. Stinky. The good kind. That's what you smell when you walk in the door.


There you have it, the wonderful creation that is Hakata ramen. I can't say I've had bad Hakata ramen yet. I think Ichiran tastes a little more refined, but the whole eating in silence in a one person cubicle thing isn't worth it. Maybe Ippudo could take top marks, but I'd say that is more Hakata Nouveau style. A drizzle of garlic spice oil isn't an option at most places.


One bonus of this shop is that you get a coupon for a free serving of noodles the next time you come in. Bonus!

武蔵家 (Musashiya in Kichijoji)


(from Kichijoji station, walk East along the tracks. It's under the train tracks about 3 minutes walk)

Number 3 on my Tokyo X Stamp Rally Card. I'm still not totally sure what this stamp rally is all about. I'd like to think it will culminate in something wonderful, like a ramen exposition, or at least a ramen party of some kind. But most likely it will just end with me in an ugly ramen t-shirt.


Musashiya was some fairly normal, albeit rather thick tonkotsu ramen. It wasn't bad, it wasn't anything special.


You'd think that a thick, meaty soup like this would be great for someone who was still a little drunk from a day of hanami, sitting under the cherry blossoms drinking whiskey and plum wine. But no, it didn't sit right. Just too... oily.


Awesome location though, under the tracks of the Chuo line.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

楽々 (Rakuraku in Kichijoji)


(From Kichijoji station go north to the Tokyu department store. It's in that area. The address is

This shop was recommended by the staff at Nagi in Shibuya. It's down a little side alley in a rather hip part of Kichijoji. The shop touts itself as a regular old ramen shop at lunch time, and a cool music and dining bar at night. The staff was young and fresh, with tasteful facial piercings. Rebel enough to bring in the kids, but conservative enough not to scare away the old folks.


Here it is, a salty tonkotsu ramen. All the elements were nice. Thick soup, great noodles, and one of the best eggs I've had in a while. It tasted like concentrated soy sauce.

But I'm a little bitter. I ordered the shiro ramen. The guy next to me ordered something different and it came with a big piece of seaweed that had been branded with the store's logo. How fun! Also I forgot my good camera lens and had to walk to the other side of the store just to take a picture of my food with my big telephoto lens.

But on the bonus side, this was another stamp on my Tamagumi Springtime Ramen Stamp Rally! 2 down, 10 to go-

Monday, March 23, 2009

きら星 (Kiraboshi Ramen in Mitaka)

It's been a while since I attempted to knock more ramen shops off my Top 30 in Japan list.

It's also been a while since I posted anything new. Sorry about that. I went into a sort of ramen slump, if you will. I fell into routine, becoming a creature of habit. Saturdays were usually spent eating at Bankara, and locally I tend to go to Ippudo a lot. But it's time to change, time to experience new bowls!


(from Musashisakai station, take the south exit and go a little west to 武蔵野市境南町3-11-13 )

Kiraboshi, which is only about 10 minutes by bicycle from my place. How did I not go here yet? Well, the simple answer is that this was the 4th time I've gone. Once I got there too late. Once they were on vacation. Once I just missed the lunch hours. 4th times a charm.


The menu and... a stamp rally? More on that later.


There was a line of 4 people outside. About a 15 minute wait before I was seated and ready to eat.


The payoff. Thick, concentrated soup. The master simmers pork bones for 30 hours to make his soup. This isn't everyday ramen, it was very heavy. Remember I said this place is only 10 minutes by bicycle for me? Yeah, don't ride a bicycle after eating.


One signature here is a little dollop of saba, mackerel fish, paste. It's will add a nice little kick of something different when mixed in. I gotta complain about the raw onion bits thrown in though, I'm not a fan.


できた! Done!


There is a stamp rally going on in my area for the next month! The information is here. If I get all 12, I get a Tシャツ... a T-Shirt. I hate cheezy giveaway shirts, but I'll give it a go. All except 2 are within my weekend commute to work.

Here's a video of Kiraboshi: