Tuesday, May 29, 2012

麺篠居士 (Menjo Kyoshi in Fujimidai)

源烹輪 麺篠居士


This shop was on the wish list for ages. Fujimidai is a bit off-center though, and the one day a week that I am out there is this shop's day off, according to the internet. Curse these Wednesdays!


But the internet is not to be trusted! They open at 11:30am on Wednesdays. Perfect to grab a quick bowl before my lesson at noon


Menjo Kyoshi is full on Chinese. Despite the sign for tantanmen, they have an extensive menu of other dishes. Things like spicy stir fried beef, lobster with sweet chili sauce, and king crab fried rice will have to wait until another day.

The tantanmen is fantastic, having a bit more one-dimensional heat than Japanese-run tantanmen spots, which tend to break the spice with some sort of creamy. Menjo Kyoshi bills itself as Chinese home cooking, using more expensive ingredients and unique methods from the home country to single itself out. The worker's Cantonese chatting from the kitchen is a nice touch.


The anindofu is a solid block of texture and flavor. If you go for this, and you probably should, skip throwing a bowl of rice into the left over tantanmen soup. That was a lot of food.


Speaking of a lot of food, they have a 3000 yen course menu, including what looked like about 8 or 9 dishes.


Tokyo, Nerima-ku, Nukui 3-16-11
Closest station: Fujimidai

Open 11:30-15:00, 17:00-23:30

Saturday, May 26, 2012

世界の龍ちゃんよしき坊 (Ryuchan in Daitabashi)



Local streets with some sort of theme are scattered throughout Japan. Sometimes, it's just an excuse to create a cute mascot, like Koenji's Monkey Street. Often, it is just meant to draw the right crowd, like Shinjuku's Drunkard Alley. Other times, it is a tribute to a location, like Daitabashi's Okinawa Road.

Obviously there are some Okinawan restaurants there.


世界の龍ちゃんよしき坊, aka Seikai no Ryuchan Yoshikibo, aka The World's Math Equation Monk Ryu-chan (?), from now on referred to simple as Jake-san's place, is a local hangout of Keizo from GoRamen. The place is eclectic to say the least. The counter in the above poorly-shot photo is actually a salt water aquarium. Look for Nemo in there.

And behind the counter?


A secret pull-out piano. Jake-san wasn't in the mood to play a tune, but he conveniently had a video of one of his TV appearances ready to show.

More randomness, Jake-san races souped-up Corvettes on the side.


A full selection of Okinawan beer is available. The Goya brew was the winner.


How's the ramen? Apparently, "It's a Bomb !"


Honest ramen. I don't know if I would say It's a Bomb!, but it is definitely the the exclamation mark at the end of that sentence.


Tokyo, Suginami-ku, Izumi 1-3-16
Closest station: Daitabashi

Open 12:00-14:30, 17:00-23:00

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

GACHI in Shinjuku



There's only one kind of adventure to be had in Shinjuku's famed Ni-Chome!


Delicious tsukemen . . . what were you thinking?


MJ knows what I'm talking about!


Fitting with the Ni-Chome theme, gachi is a hangover killer. Eat a bowl of this after drinking, and your body will be too concerned with processing all this fat to worry about the alcohol.

If you didn't know, Ni-Chome is the famed center of gay nightlife in Tokyo. According to some accounts, it has the highest concentration of gay bars per square meter in the world. It is also one of the cheapest places to drink in Tokyo. Many of the street-side bars offer all-you-can-drink deals for about the price of a bowl of ramen.

A bowl at Gachi is the perfect post-binge meal.


Yes, that is a bowl-sized piece of fried chicken. Very greasy, very juicy. My soberness on this occasion was a crutch, and it took some time to get that thing down.


Some nice free options to add to your bowl as well. Smile!


Tokyo, Shinjuku-ku, Shinjuku 2-17-10
Closest station: Shinjuku Sanchome

Open 11:00-23:00
Closed Tuesday

Sunday, May 20, 2012

嵐風 (Arakaze in Nakano)

牛薫る麺処 嵐風


After the failed attempt to find Arakaze the night before, I went home, did some research, and marked up my Tokyo street atlas. No chance of failure this time!


(the sign is from our first foray into the wild depths of Nakano)


Arakaze is a production of Hototogisu in Hatagaya, another winning shop on the West Side. The bar was set high for this one.


The bowls here are all made with beef bones and beef toppings. If it reminds you of the recent best-of shop Matador, that's because it is quite similar. Matador-light if you will.

An excellent bowl, and much closer than far-off Kita Senju, but it doesn't shine quite like the beef at Matador.


There was, apparently, a beef ramen boom a few years back. This might have only been one magazine's attempt at scooping the competition, though. Regardless, it looks like the trend was called well before it hit.

The called-trends for this year have been along the lines of super-thick with massive amounts of meat topping. Expect that in 2013.


Tokyo, Nakano-ku, Arai 5-9-8
Closest station: Araiyakushimai

Open 11:30-14:30, 18:00-21:00
Friday and Saturday 11:30-14:30, 19:00-25:00
Sunday 11:30-100 bowls are served

Thursday, May 17, 2012

長浜食堂 (Nagahamashokudo in Nakano)

博多餃子房 長浜食堂


After some chicken sashimi (and a few beers), we went to a local soba place for soba and tempura (and a few glasses of choice sake). This is a typical business meeting for people working in the food field. Also typical, we decided to get some ramen after. But alas, our slow pace got us there too late, and the hot new shop we wanted to check out was closed. I filed it's location away for another day.


The next day, actually. I usually possess an African bushman's directional memory, but this time, the only shop at my mental treasure map's X was this tonkotsu chain. Might have something to do with all the beer the night before.

But I gave Nagahama Shokudo a try anyways.


I did, so you don't have to.


'Nuff said.


Tokyo, Nakano-ku, Arai 2-10
Closest station: Nakano

Open 11:30-15:00, 17:00-2:00am
Weekends and Holidays 11:30-2:00am

Monday, May 14, 2012

ねじ式 (Nejishiki in Hatagaya)



I was looking for a local bowl while a local coin laundry machine took care of my darks and colors. Actually, I own very few white things. Japan doesn't use hot water to wash clothes - try getting a tonkotsu stain out of a white T!


The limited edition Medicom toys in the window of this shop caught my eye. In my past, I spent a lot of money collecting this sort of thing. It's good to have obsessions, though.


Nejishiki smelled much better than teen spirit. Choices include a rich shoyu, a paitan, and a miso blend. The regular ramen was recommended by the master.


If you like toys and rock music, you'll dig the atmosphere. If you like heavy pork soup with ground pork and sliced pork toppings, you'll dig the ramen. That mound of pork mixes with the soup. The kanshoku (ritualistic draining of every last drop of soup) is logistically tough here - spoon required.


Most shops with crazy interiors, or unique architecture, tend to fall on the yum side of the spectrum. Not sure why this is.


Rock on Nejishiki. For those curious in nihongo, ぬじ式 means "screw ceremony".


Tokyo, Shibuya-ku, Hattagaya 2-47-12
Closest station: Hatagaya

Open 11:30-15:00, 18:00-22:00
Closed Thursday

Friday, May 11, 2012

やぐら亭 (Yaguratei in Hatsudai)

支那そば やぐら亭


Back from my month in America, and it's back to business as usual. Except for the business part. April and May tend to be my lightest work months of the year. Such is the life of a freelance teacher in Japan.


Taking advantage of the time, I went about exploring my neighborhood. I often take the less traveled road to get west of Shinjuku. Running parallel to the 6 lane Koshukaido (that giant thoroughfare with an expressway above the thing), is a pleasant street with less of the bustle. Just this last week, though, I found a street parallel to that one, aptly named 不動通 (idle street). This lazy street is full of local-flavor shops, even a couple serving ramen.


Yaguratei had been visited by a plethora of B-list celebs, most of whom only illicit an "I saw that guy on TV once!" response.


As for the ramen, it is a solid shinasoba, that other, slightly less politically correct term for chukasoba. The pleasant aroma from the vegetable version makes it the winner here.

There is a problem though. The shop is just across the street from the new location of Ichifuku, one of the best (and least known) finds on the west side.


Tokyo, Shibuya-ku, Honmachi 2-32-2
Closest station: Hatsudai

Open 11:00-14:00, 18:00-26:00
Saturday 11:00-16:00, 18:00-23:00
Closed Sundays

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Misoya in New York


When Nate was still living in Tokyo a few years back, our frequent ramen outings would end not with the standard gochisosama, but with the rhetorical question, "Another bowl?" It isn't something I do much anymore, two bowls of ramen in the span of an hour, but that old spark was still there, and we went for another bowl.


You shouldn't have a problem getting a seat at Misoya, the place was practically empty on a Tuesday night.


This shop is loosely related to the 麺場 group of shops in Japan, out of Chiba. Though the name 蔵出し味噌, kuradashimiso, is on the sign, Misoya gets the point across. Miso, miso, miso. Three different forms of miso ramen; Hokkaido style, Nagoya style, and Kyoto style. You have probably heard of Hokkaido style, the thick white stuff from Japan's northernmost island. But you might not know about Nagoya or Kyoto style. That makes two of us.


I could wax on about local foods in Japan for pages upon pages, but I'll cut to the chase. There is no such thing as Nagoya miso ramen. However, take a brochure from the information desk at Nagoya station, a little inspiration from column A, top it with something from column B, add some noodles . . . Nagoya ramen. The sweet, red miso is a Nagoya thing, as is the fried shrimp on top. You could even nerd out and say that the bowl is reminiscent of the earthen pots used in the region.


The Sapporo version is fairly true to it's roots, except for the addition of some fried potato on top. Nothing to write home about, and this bowl kind of put the proverbial nail in the coffin on miso in America for me.

Don't feel bad for the red, white, and blue, most miso ramen in Japan falls short of amazing as well. Kuradashi Miso (miso straight from the warehouse?) gets the point across, and might be just enough for a satisfactory stateside miso slurp.


Saturday, May 5, 2012

Momofuku Noodle Bar in New York


Many of Ramen Adventure's readers come from America. So many should know about Momofuku and David Chang. The uber-famous Korean-American bad-boy chef that blah blah blah, I'm not into that stuff really. Go to the million other blogs that either worship Momofuku or scream and cry about how overrated he is.

I'm here for the noodles. Spoiler alert, they are overrated.


But the rest of the menu is fantastic.


I ventured in with none other than Ivan of Ivan Ramen and Nate of ramenate.com.


Two of our group are New York natives. Two of our group have direct connections to Momofuku (Nate wrote an excellent article for the Lucky Peach Issue #1 and Ivan graces the cover - his hands at least). All three of us are certified ramen nuts.


By the way, the following negative statements are solely the opinion of Ramen Adventures.


This bowl is weak. The soup follows a standard shoyu recipe, but substitutes the difficult-to-find dried katsuo flakes with smoked bacon. The idea is to substitute one smoky meat for another. It doesn't work. I'm a big fan of the recent bacon everywhere campaign in American foods, but not here. The Momofuku book goes into detail on this topic, and is actually convincing. Until you taste it.


I think part of the reason is the restaurant's relationship with local farms. The nearest katsuo factory is half a globe away, but excellent pork is just upstate. Excellent pork that shines in the toppings. The belly and shredded shoulder, as well as the half cooked egg, are the best I've experienced stateside. Noodles ain't bad either. Might work in a different soup.


No one comes to Momofuku for a quick bowl. The menu offers a dozen or so small plates. Are these on par with the noodles? Or are they up there with the toppings?


Toppings. The grilled octopus is drizzled with a sweet and spicy kimchi and orange foam.


The fingerling potatoes are on a bed of miso, and topped with . . . katsou flakes! I thought they couldn't get those! Don't put too much thought into it.


The cauliflower is kicked up just a touch with citrus and spice. The cured duck salad is textural and aromatic.

This is a theme at all the Momofuku restaurants; heavily modified eats that can be as tasty as they are confusing. At the nearby Momofuku Saam Bar, I had cured ham with coffee mayo, apple kimchi, and raw beef minced with watermelon. Off-topic food conversations could drag on at this rate.


You could spend a lot of both time and money here.


Budget enough time, a couple hours, to wait and eat, and budget enough cash to eat whatever you want.

And if you go with a group, go ahead and just order one bowl of noodles. Share it, check it off your list, and move on.


Check site for hours.