Sunday, February 5, 2012

港楽亭 (Korakutei in the port city of Misaki)



Ramen Riders! Round 3!


Jim, James, and Juan joined me on another semi-successful ramen road trip. The concept is simple. Ride motorcycles and eat local ramen. I say semi-successful for a few reasons, which I will get to later. But first, what is this port city of Misaki known for?


Maguro. Delicious tuna. Fresh fish from the waters of Japan are delivered daily, and people flock from all over the country to enjoy the highest quality tuna available.




Not really. Venture into the local fish market and investigate. There are plenty of local fish here, but maguro is a worldwide business. The most expensive piece I could find is from... Ireland!


About $600. Turns out most of the local waters have been over-fished. I'm not in the mood for a food ethics discussion. The gist is that a lot of fish eaten in Japan comes from anywhere except Japan.


And with the best of the best cuts heading to Tokyo and Kyoto (as with most meats and fish), don't think that you need to visit this place to have an epic tuna experience in Japan.

The Ramen


Misaki, in an effort to attract more publicity, created a ramen shop collaboration. The concept is straight forward; the soup is made of maguro stock, and the toppings must use maguro. The first stop was Korakutei, which is considered the best of the bunch.


Shoyu soup that is extremely fishy. The topping was a sort of fishcake that made me wish I had ordered nothing but the fishcake. Yeah, this bowl was just so-so. Tuna is an uncommon ingredient in soup production, and now I know why. While fish like katsuo or niboshi add distinctive smoky and bitter flavors, the in-your-face fishiness of maguro is a bit too much.


Juan had the bowl topped with a Chinese-style stir fry of maguro, vegetables, and a sweet sauce. Definitely the one to go with. The thick sauce added some much needed dimension to the soup. Juan, a Spaniard who grew up eating his fair share of fish, approves.

Actually, this bowl won 5th place in the fairly famous B-1 Grand Prix in it's category. It's a food competition. Not sure how many entries there were though. Could have been in the single digits.


It should be obvious that I don't want to push anyone to make the trek down to Misaki. If you live in the Yokohama area, and have your own transportation, and have run out of things to do, by all means check it out on a lazy Sunday.


Kanagawa-ken, Miura-shi, Misaki 5-1-10
Closest station: Misakiguchi, then a bus

Open 11:00-20:30
Closed Wednesdays

The Ride

Ramen Riders Round 3.jpg

Ah, the ride. We are, after all, motorcycle riders. This particular trip was spent between the expressway and the traffic of Miura. I'm not selling this, am I? Well, the small coastal stretch of the 215 from Misaki to Yokosuka is nice. The rest is just asphalt and trucks.


Hmmmm, maybe I should rethink. I've driven the expressways of Tokyo and Yokohama countless times, so I take it a bit for granted. Actually, for someone new to the elevated toll roads of the area, wonderment at the epic scale of Tokyo is inevitable. From wherever-you-are Tokyo to the Daikoku parking area, you pass by every famous landmark in the city at an elevation of 30 meters. You go over the Rainbow Bridge (the same one from that one scene in Kill Bill). You pop into a tunnel and pop up in the middle of an airport. It's a unique way to see urbanity at it's grandest.


The Daikoku (大黒) parking area is a sight to see. A mega truck-stop on an island in the Yokohama Bay, it is the most convenient place for local car and bike clubs to meet before setting out for trips into the countryside. On any given weekend, expect to see a dozen Italian sports cars, anime-themed compact cars, Harley riding clubs, and the like.


Today was light though, and the only interesting club was the 1970 Lamborghini club. Oh, and the Ramen Riders of course.


Miura is overdeveloped, so don't expect much good riding. The shortest stretch from the expressway to the city is a straight shot down a congested road, though passing is easy. The 215, which hugs the east coast is excellent, but only for about 20 minutes of spirited riding. Then it's back on the expressway, and back to Tokyo.

A more interesting option would be to hop the ferry across Tokyo Bay into Chiba and ride the mountains there. Being late January, that is not a safe option for motorcycles.


A sport bike, a Harley, a sport touring ride, and a supermoto. All we need is a scooter and we'd have all the genres covered.

Thanks for coming out. The next ride will focus more on the riding than the ramen, and include more food options for those with a more... Western palate.

Stay safe out there.


pudgym29 said...

I hope you don't take this contrary, Brian, but Misaki was close enough to Tokyo for Andrew Zimmern of cable | satellite TV channel Travel Channel to visit for an episode of Bizarre Foods.
One of the pamphlets I scarfed from the Keikyu information booth at Haneda Airport's International Terminal was an English-language one which publicizes a one or two day open ticket to the Miura peninsula.
It is valid for both the train line to Misakiguchi and Keikyu Kyuko buses, including the one which goes to Korakutei. Actually, you can ride any Keikyu train from Kanazawa-bunko on down; including the lines to Shin-zushi and Uraga. This special ticket costs ¥1,900 | ¥2,000 {1-day | 2-day} at Shinagawa, and ¥1,400 | ¥1,600 at Yokohama {1-day | 2-day}.
So if people visiting there can't join your ramen rides, this might work. ;=)

Brian said...

I liked the Bizarre Foods when he ate at 朝立 in Shinjuku. I'd much rather eat a beating frog's heart than the ramen in Misaki!

Kennedy Larson said...

Nothing beats a cross-country motorcycle trip and stopping by restaurants and parking lots where fellow bikers stop over for a break from the trek. It seems, though, that it's a lot more fun to do over there in Japan than back here.

Brian said...

I think the biker/food culture is a bit better in America, actually. Out of the big city, good spots are few and far between.