Wednesday, April 28, 2010

西尾のオススメ (Nishio's Recomendations)



Went to the always excellent Nishio the other day. You can read my account of the shop here.


Today I was slurping it up with Jackson, the man behind the San Francisco ramen truck Shirohige. He was in town, living like a true ramen nerd, eating bowl after bowl of the stuff. From the reviews and information on the internet, Shirohige serves up a lot of simple shoyu. I immediately knew that he should taste Nishio.


These noodles are amazing. Custom made with corn flour, they stay firm even when distraction should warrant soggy noodles.


Another thing I love about Nishio is the owner. He speaks so fast, and so slangy, that I only pick up about 40% of what he says.

But what I picked up today...


... is perfect. The shop master's list of recommended shops in Hakata for my trip next week.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

天鳳 (Tenho in Roppongi)



Meeting up with fellow ramen adventure seeker rameniac, who is in town for a couple weeks, I felt like I had to impress. I chose a shop that was high on my list, having been recommended by... ummm... I forgot. I write down all recommendations I am lucky enough to be given, mark them on my Tokyo street atlas, and when the time comes, I slurp.


I'm not sure if Tenho was in some top 10 list, or just word of mouth.


I wasn't really into this one. Not much impact for a tonkotsu shoyu soup. The pork was a complete write off. Maybe it would taste better after a few drinks from nearby Trick or Treat, a Halloween themed drinking hole.


Excluding Gogyo, which is just enough outside of Roppongi to be... not Roppongi, I haven't found a good shop in this area. The consensus is, though, that drunk foreigners don't really care what kind of ramen they eat.

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

覆麺デスマッチ (Deathmatch at Fukumen in Jimbocho)



Having thoroughly enjoyed Fukumen a few weeks ago, I decided to head back for their monthly special noodle experiment. I say experiment because this is one of the strangest bowls I've had. Served by some really strange dudes. Let's get to it!


It's called... Deathmatch...

Fine, I'll play along.

In the white corner...


we have the challenger.


Fried oysters.

And in the black corner...


... the reigning champion.


Sea turtle eggs.


I have to say, this was definitely a culinary first for me. I'm assuming it was also a first for all the people who joined us today. A veritable who's who of the food blogging world, we had ramen dream livin' GoRamen, first on the slurpin' scene Rameniac, cupcake lovin' Poptisserie, and new guy on the ramen scene Modern Day Deity.

But back to the sea turtle egg ramen.


Very interesting.


The fried oysters area topping that I could go for again. Heavy seafood goes great with a salty shio soup. See Ayu or Kaijin for proof of this.


The sea turtle eggs were... interesting. About the size of a ping pong ball, and almost as tough on the outside. Inside was a rich yolk that exploded into my mouth on first bite. The taste was good, but the weird factor might be too much for some people. Don't worry though, this one day ramen is long gone by the time you read this.


Free toppings if you bring your member's card.


For those around during the upcoming Golden Week holidays, Fukumen will have a different ramen each day.

May 1st - Shrimp wonton shio ramen
May 2nd - Curry ramen
May 3rd - Squid ink ramen
May 4th - Tantanmen
May 5th - Cabbage roll tomato ramen


For more shop info, check my original post here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

創新麺庵 生粋 (Kissui in Ikebukuro)

創新麺庵 生粋


Our adventure today started with a meeting of the usual suspects and an unnamed third who may be named in the future. Hey Nate... on the facing page! Inside jokes aside, we needed an Ikebukuro ramen shop, and we needed it stat!


Soshinmenan Kissui translates to something like "Original New Noodle Retreat Natural". There must be a better explanation. But on the kanji heavy banner outside, my eyes instantly went to the roman letters.


Sanma no shio-yaki. Sanma is a type of fish, and it is good. It's often grilled with salt, served alongside a glass of cold beer, and eaten in it's entirety. If you come to Japan, order sanma at any Japanese bar that serves drinks and food. What does it look like?


Another piece of advice, don't leave fish on the doorstep of your shop, buy some plastic models like Kissui did.


I went with the shop recommended shoyu. Shoyu ramen made with a lot of fish is nothing new, so I was expecting something a bit on the normal side.


What came was something amazing.


Most ramen has a faint whiff of the sea, an undertone of fishy things. But this was like nothing I've ever had. It smelled like a roasted sanma. Not just a little, a lot.


As with many strong smells, the taste isn't so powerful. It's light and refreshing. And the noodles hold almost zero flavor from the soup. Luckily the noodles are great.


It should be noted that the egg is flavored with wine, but I didn't really taste it over the smell of sanma.


I have a feeling I'll be back here. Not often, but this is ramen that I might crave every once in a while. Check it out for a totally different taste.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

大穀 (Daikoku in Ebisu)



No one in this spot on a Saturday night.


But a friend of a friend of a friend had recommended it.


Free kimchi! Awesome!


The miso ramen... not so awesome.


Both the red and the white styles were totally bland.


A pile of spice improved it a little.

But the kimchi was free!

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Monday, April 19, 2010

AFURI (Afuri in Ebisu)



What better way to kick off a ramen adventure than with a 7000 yen bottle of Trappist Westvleteren brew. Whoah! Thanks T!


AFURI was filled with about 80% females. Unique, considering that ramen shops are usually 99.999% dudes. This might be in part to the recent publication of a Girl's Ramen Club book and even more recent Girl's Ramen Club Magazine.


A sleek interior and nice music... but how is the ramen?


It's great! The yuzu shoyu ramen has a rich chicken taste that might be a little normal, but is given my stamp of approval with the addition of fresh grated yuzu citrus. I think they put juice in it as well, since the sweet lemony flavor is really strong.


One problem though, it's a little on the small size. This is cafe ramen, something you could slip into anytime for a light snack without having to worry about the after effects of consuming a massive amount of pork.


By the way, the name comes from a mountain in neighboring Kanagawa prefecture. Mt. Oyama, also known as Mt. Afuri, has a revered holy spring. Ask any ramen chef if water matters, and you'll get a resounding affirmative response.

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けいすけ東京ラーメンストリー (Keisuke at Tokyo Ramen Street)

二代目 けいすけ 海老そば外伝 東京ラーメンストリー


The last stop on our Tokyo Ramen Street Collabo-ramen trip was to Keizuke's shop. Keisuke the man is known as a classically trained master of French cuisine who brought that knowledge to ramen. Keisuke the shop is a bit more complicated. Each shop he opens is as far off from the last as it can be. Here on the Ramen Street is a branch of his 2nd shop, featuring a shrimp heavy broth.


The original shop in Takadanobaba is hard to forget. The ramen is served in a strange, egg-shaped bowl that looks like something out of a Scandinavian design museum. How will this one compare?


Before setting into the noodles, I couldn't resist these shrimp gyoza. Even though you only get 3, you should get some.


Next to the shrimp ramen is something new. A Japanese spiny lobster ramen, made only for this shop. Actually, the 4th Keisuke shop makes a spiny lobster soup, but serves it with a fried tsukemen. I'm rambling... to the soup!


Much stronger than the shrimp, this soup is rich. You can really taste the seafood, herbs, and vegetables. Taking a sip is hard though...


... from this massive spoon. Seriously, it's large.



Despite having the shortest line, this is my favorite of the shops on the Tokyo Ramen Street. It's a nice change from the usual.


Seriously, that spoon is large.


Here's our video!

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