Thursday, March 25, 2010

すがもらーめん (Sugamo Ramen in Sugamo)



An adventurous day after school with the staff led to the inevitable. There's something about drinking culture in Japan that is almost a given. 2 or 3 or 10 drinks later, and someone, without fail, will make the suggestion... ramen.


We could have walked for 5 minutes to the consistently good Sengoku Jiman. But why walk 5 when you can walk 1? Enter Sugamo Ramen. In Sugamo. Never mind the creative naming. It's next to the station.


The pot hides a creamy tonkotsu soup. You can choose from a shoyu or shio flavor. The shio was recommended.


Soup brimming with floating fat globules, it's a Sengoku Jiman clone.


The soup was rather weak, though if you want you can order it stronger. The soy saturated pork on the other hand is quite salty.


A fairly standard egg comes with every bowl.


Not a bad bowl, but no where near as rad as Sengoku Jiman. Location may be key, though, since Sugamo Ramen is next to the station as well as next to a nice seedy alley where *ahem* anything goes.


Maybe you get a text message.

"Honey, where are you? I'll be in Sugamo soon."

By the time you type your reply, you're alibi can be made.

"Just eating ramen, what did you expect?"

Official Site Here
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Monday, March 22, 2010

むつみ屋 東京ラーメンストリー (Mutsumiya at Tokyo Ramen Street)

むつみ屋 東京ラーメンストリー


I always love a hot bowl of miso ramen on a cold day. And it just so happened that there was a miso joint at the Tokyo Ramen Street. And it just so happened that we wanted to make another movie of us (us being Daniel of and I) eating ramen. And it just so happened that I'm on spring break and have every day free. Let's go!


If it weren't for modern shipping technology, you'd have to travel all the way to Sapporo, then 100km north into middle of nowhere to sample this stuff. Mutsumiya actually ships the soup, flash frozen, to it's branches around Japan.


All of their bowls have a kotteri rating of 4 or 5. To put it in perspective, a rating of 1 might be water, while 5 would be used motor oil. Miso from Sapporo has a tendency to be pretty good about 90% of the time, but that 10% is just horrid. Let's hope this one is good. Well, you are pretty much guaranteed a decent lunch at Tokyo Ramen Street.


I went with the fuwatoro miso ramen. Some sort of play on words, as fuwa-fuwa means light and fluffy. The idea is that it's got scrambled egg poured into the broth. It's only available through March.


Fuwa-fuwa indeed. Can I say fuwa-uma? Delicious and fluffy? Japanese onomatopoeia is expansive.


The egg adds a unique touch to a standard bowl of Sapporo style miso soup. But standard is not a problem. Remember I said that 90% of miso bowls from up north are good? Well this is no exception.


The left over soup and egg drop combination is good to the end.


And the run of the mill white miso ramen is good too.

I use a lot of boring adjectives, like "good", because to be honest, I'm way more down with the crazy experimental miso ramen that is coming out of Tokyo. Check out Gogyo in Roppongi for something that's exciting.


Unless you want to try what beautiful Hokkaido has to offer. In that case this'll do.

Here's our video!

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ひるがお 東京ラーメンストリー (Hirugao at Tokyo Ramen Street)



The next stop on the Tokyo Ramen Street adventure took Daniel ( and I to Hirugao. This is part of the Setagaya group of ramen shops, which I actually know very little about. I know the recent "meh" bowl at Zero was a Setagaya production. And I know that second to Ippudo in New York is a Setagaya place. They know it too, since the description of this shop in Tokyo Station is "The place made by the guys who were in some New York magazine's best of list".


Regardless of relative fame, our goal to make video reviews of all the shops on Tokyo Station's Ramen Street must go on.


This time is all about shio, salt.


Shio ramen is often muted in taste. I could easily say that it was my least sought after style, until I had the stellar bowls at Ivan and Ganko. Now I'll give it a shot. So let's give it a shot.


A simple bowl.


I don't want to give a strike two against the Setagaya group, but this bowl was just normal. Delicious, of course, but normal.


I like the addition of a single, translucent shrimp atop the egg. If one tasty shrimp had been a mound of tasty shrimp, I might upgrade my opinion.


Don't get me wrong though, this bowl was good. Being Tokyo Station, it's good to keep your options open. If you're about to catch the 5 hour bullet train to Hiroshima, a bowl at Rokurinsha would be good to, well, put you into a food coma sleep.

But if you are running late for an important business meeting, a light bowl at Hirugao is the way to go.

Here's the video!

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

吉左右 (Menya Kissou in Kiba)



Only open for lunch, closed 2 days a week, lines reaching close to triple digit minute waits, and a location that is kind of hard to find. I finally made it to Menya Kissou!

Took me long enough! This is the #1 ranked shop on the supleks ramen database, which I link to at the bottom of every post. But Japanese ranking systems are often skewed, and the domino effect is in full force. A shop gets on TV, the next day the line is around the block, then the ranking goes up, regardless of actual quality. But the English ramen blogging world, albeit is reserved for half a dozen people, might have insight that I actually listen to.

Keizo of goramen loved it!
Exile Kiss agreed with the #1 ranking.
Ramen Otaku is down.
Ramen Tokyo liked it but thought it was over rated.
Rameniac was in the Ramen Tokyo boat.

Regardless of the positives and the negatives, I at least had to go once.


The menu is simple. Ramen or tsukemen. Big or small. Normal toppings (egg, nori, menma, and pork). You can get an overpriced beer if you want.

45 minutes later, I was sitting inside, camera ready.


Everything about this bowl is fantastic. Everything. The soup is a thick combination of pork and fish, but not too thick. The noodles are handmade. The pork melts. The egg is perfect.


Look at those. Even though I had just eaten the champion noodles at Rokurinsha, these I have no problem with.


Every review talks about how great the egg is. It's like the common denominator in Kissou reviews. I'll bow out of the discussion I guess, because almost every hanjitsu tamago I've had in the past month has been to my liking. But on a simple thumbs up or thumbs down, you know which way it is.


For someone like me, waiting in hour lines a few times a week is no problem. I kind of enjoy it even. But for a traveler to Tokyo who wants to do anything besides eat noodles in soup, I totally understand how this sort of thing could be a pain. If I had to choose 1 shop with an insanely long lone (hour+), I'd recommend TETSU. No second thought.

An email from ramenadventure fan Dave led me to finally make the adventure out to this shop. Thanks for the bowl! Dave is the 3rd or 4th person to email me out of the blue to hang out and eat ramen. If' I've got the time (I usually do), let's slurp!

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

うさぎ(Usagi in Shibuya)



Just look for the usagi (rabbit)!


Top billing in a recent ramen book purchase featuring additive free shops is located just west of Shibuya station. Maybe not top billing, though, as this book isn't a ranking. Regardless, the pictures looked good, and I had to be in that part of town anyways.


Also, my French friend Mari was with me, and she wanted ramen AND gyoza. Lets get to it.


The special ramen is loaded with wontons, grilled pork, and the usual suspects of menma and an egg.


The shop's location is good, just on the cusp of where trendy Shibuya becomes one of the most expensive residential areas in the city.


You can also get a lunch set, which I didn't notice until leaving. Next time!


All in all, a very high quality, albeit standard bowl of shoyu ramen.


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Thursday, March 11, 2010

萬福 (Manpuku in Ginza)

中華そば 萬福


In the heart of Ginza is one of the oldest ramen shops in town. How old?


Very old. 1920s. Forgive the lack of research, but when I go eat ramen with Ramenate!, I leave the scholarly stuff to him.


Most of Tokyo burned down in the great Kanto earthquake of 1923, but luckily much of red-bricked Ginza survived.


We went with the most old-timey drink we could think of, soba shochu in soba tea.


The ramen was your standard original style. This is ramen history here. Even though I tend to be more interested in the new styles that are popular in Tokyo, it's nice to remember the roots now and then.



Most chukasoba shops like this have other Chinese dishes on the menu. Shredded, wok fried tofu is a standard.


We got lots of smiles as we ran around the store taking photos of everything nostalgic that could be found.


Ginza seems fairly sparse of ramen shops, leaning more towards high priced food for the high priced shopping that predominates the main road. But hey, if you just spent your last 10,000 yen note on Louis Vuitton, maybe Manpuku is exactly what you need!

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

六厘舎 東京ラーメンストリート (Rokurinsha at the Tokyo Ramen Street)

六厘舎 東京ラーメンストリー


Underneath the bullet train, just minutes from the ticket gates, you can find some of the hottest ramen shops in Tokyo.


The aptly named Tokyo Ramen Street is a concept in efficiency. Thousands of people come through busy Tokyo station every day. Thousands of people want to eat good ramen. And the best shops in town wouldn't mind more customers. Is this a true win-win scenario?


Well, as long as you don't mind waiting an hour for your lunch.


Rokurinsha is the star of the Tokyo Ramen Street. This might be the aftermath of last year's tsukemen boom. Or it might just be that their noodles and soup are awesome. On a warm March morning, on my spring break holiday, I joined Daniel from for the adventure.


Makes sense that you can pay with your train fare debit card.



There you go, the gold medalist of tsukemen in Tokyo. The honor, though, is shared with TETSU. I'd love to place those two bowl next to each other for a true test. Either way, though, you're coming out a happy eater.


Thick, meaty soup. It's cooked for over 13 hours, until all the ingredients are unrecognizable. Pork, fish, vegetables, and secrets blend into liquid gold.


I fully recommend the original shop out in Osaki, but it's not convenient to anyone but those with time to spare and a good sense of direction.


This was the first shop in the Tokyo Ramen Street that we tried. In the near future, we'll be checking out all of these shops, and then hopefully doing the same at some other ramen streets located in or very near stations. There's one at Shinagawa station, and a new one at Koenji station. Until then, enjoy another episode of Collaboramen!

Official Ramen Street Site Here
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