Sunday, July 18, 2010

ココスの坦々麺 (Tantanmen at Cocos Family Restaurant)



There are a few chains of family restaurants in Japan. A family restaurant is akin to a diner in America. Like Denny's (which happens to be here too). Skylark, Denny's, Joyfull, Cocos, Gusto, Royal Host, the list goes on and on. These are everywhere, especially out in the more rural parts of town. You can expect a decent meal for about 1000 yen, a self service drink bar, and yes, ramen on the menu.


Also come expecting lots of specials and seasonal fare. It's summer, so a cold tantanmen made with soy milk is perfect to cool down your body, while the addition of some spicy rayu makes you sweat. Nature's AC!


Anyways, it's just so so. The soup was nice, the noodles mediocre, and that pile of meat inedible.


Don't forget the drink bar! Cocos is my favorite of the lot, they have tea you can brew yourself, and lots of coffee drinks. I suggest a hot cocoa, an espresso, and some steamed milk. Then mix it up!


Happy summer (I promise to eat some real ramen again soon).

Sunday, July 11, 2010

菊や (Ice Cream Ramen at Kikuya in Kita Senju)



I was feeling antsy, with nothing to do on a Sunday afternoon. It was on the cool side, a perfect day for a little motorcycle ride and some ramen. But getting to Kikuya is hardly the adventure.


So far, looks fairly normal. But if you search for "ice cream ramen", this is the spot you will be sent to. THAT'S the adventure.


Before we get to the main attraction, you should know that they have a plethora of strange ramen on the menu at Kikuya. Purple, blue, and green are achieved with different vegetables added to the broth. I was tempted to try the purple. But the friendly owner pushed the ice cream on me.


A bowl of cold shoyu ramen toped with an ice cream cone.


Did you expect something else?


Eating it was a bit challenging.

Oh, the taste? Yeah, it wasn't so good. It wasn't bad, just not so good. Actually, the flavor was nice, but the whole thing being cold didn't sit right. Maybe if the ramen was piping hot, and the ice cream cold, I would have been able to finish it. But I couldn't. Mottainai!


Looking at the menu on the wall, I saw a new word. アルカリ (arukari). Inquiring minds want to know.


Of course... batteries.

The story behind the weird, experimental bowls is a fun one. This shop is over 48 years old. About 10 years ago, a local elementary schooler on his way home stopped in. It was hot, so he asked the owner if he could have some ice cream. Then, imagination at work, he asked if he could put that cone into his ramen. Why not? But instead of a one off joke, the chef put it up on the wall as a new menu item.

Kids are always looking to get the last laugh, so they started ordering more unusual bowls. Hot chocolate ramen. No problem. Soy milk and coffee ramen. Done. Green tea. Check. And finally, from a particularly cheeky young lad, "Can you throw some batteries in my bowl?"


I was kindly asked to be part of the July blog matsuri. Ice cream ramen is certainly an east meets west idea, but I gotta say that Ivan's taco-style-ramen was the best example of this concept. Bring it back Ivan!

Friday, July 2, 2010

おやじ (Oyaji in Machida)



I have a new job (that makes 4 sources on income now) that sends me all over the greater Tokyo area. I was out in Ebina that other day, and passed Machida on the hour long train ride. Isn't ramen loving Yo! Japan's favorite shop there? A quick text message and reply later, and I knew where my adventure for the night would be.


Sapporo style miso is the deal here, and if you get the Oyaji set, you'll get just that with a side of gyoza.


Ok, so this miso is really really good. The general consensus with miso is that it needs to have a huge first impact the second you taste that soup. Oyaji delivers. Using imported dutch lard and a variety of vegetable, it tastes a bit like buttered corn dipped in pork broth.


The noodles, pork, and toppings are simple, letting the soup stand out.


The gyoza were fine, but it was a bit too much food for me. If you went with a friend, maybe one of you could get the set. Good luck getting a friend to go to Machida, though, it's a bit of a trek, out on the border of countryside Tokyo and Kanagawa.


Along with Kururi and Tsujida, this is definitely a place to get your miso fix.