Wednesday, February 10, 2010

一福 (Ichifuku in Hatsudai)

一福

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The weekly meeting of Nate, Keizo, and I often starts with an adventure in choosing a shop. We had decided, the week prior, on a grand voyage into the neighboring prefecture of Saitama, but last minute schedule changes put a veto on that. This is Tokyo style though. If it isn't a conflict in our hectic schedules, it's that someone is hungover. Usually with a story to tell.

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We agreed to meet near Shinjuku, and on the train exchanged mails about shops to hit. There was the trendy shoyu place, the Niigata style shop, and Ichifuku. Ichifuku features a miso ramen made with sake, soy milk, and... shark cartilage. Sounds awesome!

A few minutes later, I wrote back. You know, that sounds kind of like old person herbal medicine.

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But it was too late, the decision had been made. Thanks in part to an out of print ramen guide purchased for a few hundred yen at a used book store.

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The mix of clientele is apparant. First are the locals. This shop is nestled off the main road, surrounded by 2 story apartment buildings. The shop owner is a smiling lady in her 50s. Just a neighborhood shop. The second group is, well, ramen people. Besides the 3 foreign bloggers, a group of 4 others were there with their ramen guidebooks and knowledge of fine noodles.

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Speaking of those in the know, an older book about the ramen-nazi himself features Ichifuku in a #50 spot. It should be noted that if your ramen isn't perfection, you don't get any spot with this guy.

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I wasn't in the mood for shark cartilage, so I went with the spicy miso. Very thin, unlike most shops which turn the miso soup into a motor oil consistency, with a bit of creaminess to it. I wasn't knocked off my seat or anything, but left satisfied.

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Keizo got the Irori ramen, the aforementioned old person medicine ramen. It was actually... great! The creaminess of the shops standard miso blended nicely with the sake. And if this is some sort of miracle elixir, all the better.

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As we ate, all the ramen junkies who had made the trek ordered the Irori, and the regulars just a standard miso.

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The highlight of the day was the discovery of crouton like bits in the soup. But a crouton would be soggy and dissolved by the time the noodles are gone. These crunchy bits were good to the last drop. When we asked what they were, the kindly shop master, who had probably been asked that same question a thousand times before, simply smiled and replied, "Hmmmm, what could they be?"



Official Site Here

More Shop Info Here