Tuesday, May 24, 2011

三八 (Sanpa in Tokushima)



On the futon next to me at a local rider's inn (hotel for motorcycle riders... yes, Japan is a great place) was a friendly guy who went by the name of Mac. At the mention of ramen, he was quick to recommend a few spots. Sanpa has a few shops in Tokushima, and a week later I found myself staying near one of them.


A local favorite, they make a monthly newspaper, featuring fan art from neighborhood children.


Oh, the ramen. It's great. I was told it's the best chashu on Shikoku, and I'll agree with that 100%. Even though I've only had pork in chashu form a couple times out here, this tender and rich cut of meat gets my vote. The tonkotsu shoyu soup is a little different from the accepted Tokushima style.


Tokushima was an interesting place. Nice beaches, an interesting array of nightlife, and plenty of good food. But a few hours after eating here, I loaded my motorcycle up and drove off into the sunrise.


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Tokushima-ken, Tokushima-shi, Kitatamiya 2-467

Open 10:30-20:00
Closed Tuesdays and the 3rd Monday of the month

Monday, May 23, 2011

しまなみ苑 (Shimanamien in Ehime)



There is a zero-point-small-amount percent chance you will make it to this shop. It's located on a remote island in the Seto Inland Sea. My adventure was not to this shop, but to visit a friend living on that remote island. A friend who's family has been making fish cakes for hundreds of years.


He knows my obsession with noodles. And though I would have been happy with eating the local fish, he insisted on noodles.


A very Chinese taste, with various fruits of the sea thrown on as toppings. It was nice, though I kind of pity my friend, since this is one of only a couple choices for ramen in a 100km radius. Poor guy has to be content eating fresh sushi and local farm produce everyday. Maybe I don't pity him that much.

Ehime-ken, Imabari, Yoshiumicho 173-1

Sunday, May 22, 2011

まゆみの店 (Mayumi's in Suzaki)

鍋焼きラーメン まゆみの店


I may be obsessed with the stuff, but when I saw a sign for nabe-yaki ramen at a generic tourist stop I was stumped.


This shop. sitting above a local bank/gift shop, sold everything from hamburgers to fried rice. I was running late to my campsite, but my ramen research led me to discover that this area, Suzaki, created it's own style of ramen. My research also led me to a better looking shop.


That's Mayumi, a nice lady from the countryside who has been serving up nabe-yaki for some time now. By the way, nabe is a clay pot, usually reserved for stews. The earthen ware is heated, and the ramen served inside. Mind your fingers... is something almost no one does, and shouts of itai can be heard. Ouch!


Followed by sighs of umai. It's delicious.


Very similar to it's neighbor, Tokushima ramen, Suzaki ramen differs with the noodles and toppings. The noodles are cooked very firm, and will continue to cook inside the hot pot. The egg, too, will cook. Quick decisions need to be made. I dipped my noodles in the egg Tokushima style, then ate the egg white hard. Good stuff!


I was a bit shocked to see that this sleepy seaside town has it's own ramen map with over 30 shops serving nabe-yaki ramen. It made me realize that the adventure will never be over.


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Kochi-ken, Suzaki-shi, Sakaemachi 10-14
Nearest station: Tosashinjo

Open 11:00-21:00
Closed Thursdays

Saturday, May 21, 2011

いのたに (Inotani in Tokushima)

中華そば いのたに


Tokushima ramen. And this is the shop that started it all.

Map of Japan with Tokushima highlighted

Tokushima is located on the eastern coast of Shikoku. From a food point, the island is most noted for it's udon, mikan oranges, and katsuo tuna. All of which are excellent.

Inotani decided to break ground though, and now there are countless Tokushima-style ramen shops around the prefecture. But make no argument, this is the spot where it all started.


Very crowded. Nearby is both a ferry port and a bridge connecting Shikoku to the mainland, so this shop is a bit of a destination for people visiting. The parking lot in front was filled with motorcycle riders. My kind of place.


What constitutes Tokushima ramen? It's a deep shoyu soup topped with fried pork and a raw egg. A lot of hot oil on top keeps everything piping.


Dip the noodles into the raw egg and forget all about oranges and fish.


U-what now?


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Tokushima-ken, Tokushima-shi, Nishidaikumachi 4-25
Nearest station: Tokushima

Open 10:30-17:00
Closed Mondays

Friday, May 20, 2011

吹田ラーメン (Suita Expressway Stop Ramen)



Golden Week is a special time of year in Japan. Special because it's one of the 3 big holiday weeks. Along with Obon and New Years, this is when people get to take a holiday. I am no exception, and I took a 10 day trip to the island of Shikoku. Although my trip was dedicated to the Daishi, I made sure to make time for the dashi.

If you get that reference, leave a comment. Otherwise read on to hear about some mediocre highway rest stop ramen.


I'm not aware of the Suita area having it's own style of ramen. I'm not even sure where Suita was, no that I am back from my trip. Somewhere near Osaka.


Shoyu that served it's purpose, to fill me up.


Japan's highway system is scattered with parking areas. Since you cannot get on and off the highways without paying the extortion-like tolls, people need a convenient place to eat. These road stops often boast a lot of local flavors, making a cross country trek a bit of a gourmet adventure. But I have yet to have a really good bowl. Preliminary research shows nothing. But I'll keep riding, and I'll keep eating.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

八雲 (Yakumo in Nakameguro)



Yakumo lies on the rarely visited outskirts of the giant concrete river in Nakameguro. There are a few good ramen shops along said river, but it's in your best interests to keep walking until you reach this shop.


Since opening in 1999, this shop has garnered a lot of praise for it's product. The soup is an excellent mix of the standard fare, with a choice of white or black shoyu, or a hidden choice of mix. Ask for it at the counter.


But what really sets Yakumo above the bar are the wontons. The shop makes both standard pork dumplings and shrimp dumplings. Ordering the wantanmen will get you 6, a very generous amount in this day and age.


Again, go for the mix. Mix soup, mix wontons.


東京都目黒区大橋1-7-2 オリエンタル青葉台2階
Tokyo, Meguro-ku, Ohashi 1-7-2 on the 2nd floor
Nearest station: Ikejiriohashi

Open 11:30-15:30, 17:00-21:00
Closed Tuesdays

Monday, May 16, 2011

東京ラーメンストリートのお土産(Ramen Giftpack from the Tokyo Ramen Street)



A month without internet, and my regular postings had to wait. But one thing that could not wait was this gift box I was given at the Tokyo Ramen Street opening event. Usually these contain 3 servings of ramen, with fresh noodles and concentrated soup. I have no idea why it's usually 3. But this one, produced by the excellent Junk Garage, contains only a single serving of the good stuff.


Famous first for their noodles, you get a handful of them. The instructions are long. Cook and serve is not in the cards. Be sure you warm your bowl?!

When cooking noodles for this long, there is a lot of room for error. I think I did mine for about 10 minutes. Right on point.


The soup is vacuum packed and straight from the shop. Simply boil the bag, open, and enjoy.


And enjoy you will.

鬼金棒 (Kikanbou Tsukemen in Kanda)

カラシビつけ麺 鬼金棒


Sure, I've reviewed Kikanbou before. And if I wrote a review every time I ate here, you might think this is a site devoted to the best bowl of spicy miso in town. But this is a different shop... located half a block away from the first. So what's the deal?


The decor is the same, with Japanese demons occupying every bit of space.


Oni masks staring down at you, Japanese drum music playing in the background, spice in the air.


But the difference...


... is that the second shop serves tsukemen.


That's right. The second shop's kitchen is just as cramped as the first, with 2 chefs gracefully gliding by each other in the minimal amount of space. To make anything but one menu item would be impossible here.


Just as excellent as the original shop. The shop's secret spice blend uses ingredients from 4 or 5 different countries. Fantastic.


If you get the small size of noodles, you get a free egg or extra fried moyashi (bean sprouts).


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Tokyo, Choida-ku, Kajicho 2-10-8
Nearest station: JR Kanda

Open 11:00-16:00, 17:30-21:00
Saturdays 11:00-16:00
Closed Sundays