Beyond all measures of a doubt, today was what ramen adventurers search for. Not just the noodles at the end of the road, but the road itself. All the better if that road has a few bumps; a few dead ends; maybe a train museum or two.
The day started out normal enough. The original plan was to visit Junk Garage, way up past Omiya, at their opening time, 11:30am, and then move about 30 minutes west to Kawagoe. These strange and foreign place names are major cities in Saitama, Tokyo's less than savory neighbor to the north. Often called Dasaitama, a play on words indicating the extreme uncoolness of the prefecture.
But the trains from Omiya to Higashi-Omiya, a mere 6 minutes away, were all stopped. "At least an hour," said an apologetic station worker. Translation... more like 2.
So Nate, of the accidentally popular ramenate.com (thanks NY Times!) and I, of the accidentally popular ramenadventures.com (thanks NY Times!) set off for something to kill time with. Maybe a nice cafe near the station. Perhaps browsing at a nearby bookstore. Not when there is the new (relatively) Japan Railways Train Museum within walking distance!
2.5 hours later (we could have stayed longer) and we were back on the train.
With a few of our close friends. Smashed in like sardines, it's a good thing we hadn't eaten anything yet.
Now for the ramen. I had attempted to eat here a few months back, riding my motorcycle for 1 hour, only to find it was the day off. This time we knew they were open. And we knew they closed at 3:00. Due to the train nonsense, it was now after 2:30. I know time is of the essence, but I gotta take this photo!
Just past the questionable sign for "Ramen Land", we got lost a bit, but then somehow ended up approaching the back parking lot of our destination. Success! Japanese heavy metal music on the stereo, welcome to Junk Garage.
Cheering and high-fiving, we both settled in for the Special mazesoba, big size.
This is soup-less ramen, but that doesn't even begin to describe it.
You've gotta start with the word Junk. This has actually become a little more of a mainstream word lately, but it's basically food that is covered with all kinds of tastiness. There's a very high chance it will look horrid. There's an even higher chance that all of the customers will be men. What kind of junk are we talking about:
Garlic, pork fat, and cheese are optional along with a raw egg, spicy shrimp mayonnaise, baby star crispy noodles, bonito fish flakes, and their own special spice mix. Are you ready?
This is good stuff. The cheese, the fat, the high quality soy sauce. It all comes together. Layers upon layers of flavor. If you could add a pastry cover, something to hide the junk, this would pass as a gourmet gastronomical masterpiece.
It should be noted that the noodles here are of extreme high quality. Junk Garage has a relationship with Rokurinsha, the hottest tsukemen noodle place in Tokyo, and they use noodles from the same place.
We talked about what other junk might go well on top. Nate said crushed up Doritos. Cool Ranch Doritos, I added. I'll be back, as the shop is open until 3 am. 3am! In the warmer months, riding my motorcycle up to dasaitama, Doritos in my camera bag.
And check out the video I made from my "ram-cam" head mounted video camera. Itadakimasu!
Official Site Here (Good design!)
More Shop Info Here