Monday, June 22, 2009

千代作 (Chiyosaku in Takadanobaba)



Branching off at a funny angle from Takadanobaba station is Sakae dori. You should go there to eat. I did, with fellow ramen blogger Nate during my 2 hour break from teaching High School girls the wonders of my native language.

For the day's lesson, I was teaching them how to sing "We Are the World".


Is this a shop that Michael Jackson and Bruce Springsteen might frequent? A real relaxed shop here, with hundreds of manga comic books and magazines along the wall. We were actually having a random conversation about yakuza when, lo and behold, a pile of yakuza magazines.

On the radio was some good tunes, old school hip hop and modern rock.


Any bit of wall space that isn't covered with books is covered with photogrpahs, mostly of bands eating some late night ramen. It turns out that this shop is near some live houses, and has become a sort of instutution for late night rocker chow. Being Japan, live shows end at 11pm (just in time to catch your last train home). What to do after? Eat ramen seems logical. That's just how we are living the rock star dream.


Seriously, all the walls were covered.


The owner matched the scene. A friendly guy who made sure we were able to manage the ticket machine at the door. After noticing our interest in taking photos, he gave us a couple RC/DC stickers. That's Ramen Chiyosaku TakaDanobaba 3 Chome. Cool.


Do my eyes deceive me?!?


Score. I used to drink Dr. Pepper by the gallon in the States. But I've been on a sort of diet for the last 3 years, and sugar soda is out. Oh, this was nice.


The ramen here is Yokohama style pork soup. You can spot Yokohama style by the 3 sheets of seaweed and the addition of spinach. Last time I had Yokohama style wasn't the best.

This time was prefect. Yokohama style seems to be a bit saltier than others, which goe good with the vegetables and extra oil. I also had a first at this shop, un-deskinned (is that a word?) sesame seeds.


I passed on the garlic and spicy miso toppings, with respect to my student who I would see in an hour. The garlic here was pungent, anytime someone opened the top, it would hit me from across the room. That's some proper hardcore business.

Shop Info Here

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

光醤 (Hikarihishio in Shibuya)



2 dilemmas. The first is an easy one. Hunger. Hankering. Feeling peckish. The solution to this is easy. Ramen!


The second dilemma is a torrential downpour. It's to be expected. This is, after all, the rainy season in Japan. As always, it was sunny at some point today, so I went out without an umbrella. This meant that to leave the shelter of the station was highly undesirable. I looked east, I looked west, and I picked the closest ramen shop to the Inokashira line in Shibuya station.

A place called Hikarihishio.


The specialty here is a miso-tonkotsu-shoyu, but I didn't order that. I saw the words ワンタン and didn't bother looking further. Wontons!


A southern style tonkotsu-shoyu soup with a little bit of spicy oil on top. And of course, wontons thrown in. I really wish more shops would make wontons.


One small gripe was that they didn't ask me how I wanted my noodles. I prefer them on the firm side, and these were a bit soft. Not to worry, my kaedama, extra order of noodles, came baribari. Perfect.


This area is always bustling, and there are a good dozen or so ramen shops within a sprint from the station. The clientele is mostly of the drunk salaryman type, but it's good to know. It's only a 5 minute walk to the South side with it's many excellent shops, but sometimes we just can't stand the rain.

Shop Info Here

Friday, June 12, 2009

井の庄 (Inosho in Shakujikoen, #16 in Japan)



Back to my Top 30 list, and it's a special one. This place is seriously only about 20 minutes by bicycle from me, but I'd been avoiding it. Why? Have a look.


Good lord, it looks like tomato sauce or something. Is this spaghetti ramen?


Nope, it's 辛辛魚らーめん, double spicy fish ramen. The red? That's concentrated fire. In powder form.

But spicy ramen isn't anything new, and certainly just making a comically spicy bowl wouldn't warrant a spot halfway up a Top 30 list, would it? Let's go under the spice and see what we have.

Hella fish, that's what. The soup is made from fish and spice, and the powder on top is ground up fish powder and more spice. It's good, real good... but...

It's thick as all hell. As soon as you mix in the powder, that oily fish kicks up the viscosity to used motor oil status. A few reluctant sips of the left over soup was all that could be done. As I said to Nate, I wanted to take home the extra soup and use it as a base for a curry. It totally would have worked. What's the deal, can I start pouring left over soup into tupperware containers?

Check out a TV spot featuring some spicy ramen in Tokyo. Inosho is the first one.

Shop Info

Saturday, June 6, 2009

博多天神 (Hakatatengin in Shinjuku)


(I forgot how to get here. It's on the main road that parallels the park. It's either in 1-chome or 2-shome)

After my weekly Tuesday evening lesson in Shinjuku, I usually take a stroll through Kabukicho. Kabukicho is, of course, the entertainment center of Tokyo. All forms of fun can be bought here, for a price. Let me rephrase that. All forms of Japanese fun can be bought here. Hostess bars, pachinko parlors, game centers, and, of course, cheap food.


So I found myself wandering aimlessly, and somehow ended up in ni-chome. Sure, we've all heard that story before.

"No really! I ws just looking for some hot, raw men. I mean ramen! Hot ramen!"

"I'm totally a top guy. I mean toppings! I love lots of toppings on my hot, raw men. Dammit!"


Anyways, the fare here is standard Hakata stuff. A bit lacking on the flavor scale. I got a bowl covered in nori seawead and negi, green onions.


Oh, yeah, it's only 500 yen for the basic bowl. That's like 5 bucks.


This shop has 5 or 6 branches in the Shinjuku area alone.

Shop Info Here