Wednesday, November 28, 2012

盛楼閣 (Seirokaku in Morioka)



After a rather uneventful bowl of Morioka Reimen at Pyonpyonsha, I figured I would never be back.  But then a random conversation with a local led to another bowl.  You see, I was recounting my horrid tale of lackluster eats, and the sympathetic ear didn't want my rare trip to their hometown to be in vain. Seirokaku, a much tastier bowl of cold Korean noodles in their opinion, was a logical destination.


Fool me once, shame on you, Morioka.  Fool me twice, shame on me.  Granted that the fruit topping here, a pear, was better than Pyonpyonsha's apple, and the teeny piece of meat floating somewhere in that soup was nice.  But, alas, I gotta say, when it comes to reimen . . .

Skip it!


I'm outta here!


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Iwate-ken, Morioka-shi, Moriokaekimaedori 15-5
Closest station: Morioka

Open 11:00-2:00am

Sunday, November 25, 2012

白龍 (Pairon in Morioka)



The random jyajyamen shop I chose just so happened to be the most popular one in town.


Dozens of celebrities have been here.  My kind of adventure!


The shop is cramped and steamy.  Let the ritual that is jyajyamen begin!


Jyajyamen is a dish with Chinese origin, heavy Korean influence, and available in Japan.  See!  These three countries can get along just fine!

For once, the English translation was great.  I asked who wrote it, but that is a mystery for the ages.  To sum up this entire page of text is easy.  Mix it up, eat 90%, crack in a raw egg, mix it up, get some soup added, finish.


Cucumber, green onions, grated ginger, and that black miso that Korean jyajyamen is so known for.  Mix it up.


Leave a bit on the plate.


With the beaten egg and clear, hot soup.  All that for just over 400 yen.


This particular shop is just across the street from the old castle ruins, now a well-manicured park.  Both are highly recommended.

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Iwate-ken, Morioka-shi, Uchimaru 5-15
Closest station: Morioka

Open 9:00-21:00
Closed Sundays

Thursday, November 22, 2012

ぴょんぴょん舎 (Pyonpyonsha in Morioka)



Pyonpyonsha is the most famous Morioka Reimen shop in Japan.  No time to go to Morioka?  They have branches all over the place; including one at Tokyo Dome and one at the new Tokyo Sky Tree.


Kanpai!  The original makkori goes down smooth.


The reimen, on the other hand, is just plain boring.  On the few other occasions where I've had this dish, I have found more faults than good points.  The soup is too bland, the noodles too chewy, the hard-boiled egg too hard-boiled.  Pyonpyonsha was just another bowl of this stuff.

It should be noted that the shop has a full menu of Korean dishes, and a few bites of reimen might be good with a mound of barbecued beef.  But by itself . . .


Official Site Here

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Morioka-shi, Moriokaekimaedori 9-3
Closest station: Morioka

Open 11:00-24:00

Monday, November 19, 2012

Ramen Meccas: Morioka in Iwate



Welcome to Morioka, far north in Iwate prefecture.

Morioka, a rather uncommon tourist destination, is known for not one, but three different noodle dishes.
  1. わんこそば - Wanko soba
  2. 盛岡冷麺 - Morioka Reimen
  3. 盛岡じゃじゃ麺 - Morioka Jyajyamen


Reimen is a Korean noodle dish, served cold, that usually follows a hearty meal of Korean barbecue.  The Morioka version adds some seasonal fruit, often apples or watermelon.


Jyajyamen is another Korean dish (adopted from the Chinese one of the same name) that tops rough-cut noodles with a giant dollop of black miso spice mix.

I'm not sure why the Korean theme here.  The local history has nothing to do with Korea, and Morioka isn't too close to the sea that connects the two countries.


Don't miss your train around here.  I arrived just as it was leaving.  Less than one an hour.  Plan accordingly.


Oh, yeah, the wanko soba.


While reimen and jyajyamen could be classified in the ramen category, soba is definitely not in there.  But I gotta mention it.  I mean, there is a wankosoba cartoon printed on the side of the high speed bullet train.  This is the noodle dish that everyone knows.


The concept is simple.  The serving lady dumps one bite of soba noodles into your bowl.  Just one.  The second you finish, she is there with another. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. It's a sort of all-you-can-eat soba noodle event.


This was my first time trying this.  It was a little strange at first, but by the 40th or 50th bowl, I was a noodle slurping machine, deftly slurping with one hand and receiving more noodles with the other.  The obvious question; How much can you eat?


The average male, the staff told me, eats 50.

Some advice:
The waitress comes out with 15 at a time.  So take the minute break between gorging sessions to add some seasonings to your empty bowl.  There are a lot to choose from.  Nori, sesame, spicy sansho, grated daikon, etc.  Mix it up each time.

Another tip:
You can't just quit.  You have to finish every last bit of noodle in your bowl and put a cover on it.  Sounds simple, but when you are looking like you are in pain, she will be hovering like a hawk.  Micro-seconds between the slurp and serve.  All I can say is . . . good luck.


How many bowls of wankosoba can a die hard noodle nerd eat?


95 . . . this time.  I tried to quit at about 90, but that waitress was relentless!

Oh, and 15 servings of the stuff comprise one regular bowl.

Friday, November 16, 2012

方雅 (Hoga in Boso Hanto in Chiba)



Ramen Riders!!!!


We arrived at our destination 30 minutes before opening, and there were already a dozen other bikers there.  This spot is in the middle of nowhere!

The map may say Chiba, but like Tokyo, this prefecture is deceptively massive.  Head down the Boso peninsula and you'll see what I mean.


So we got in line.  The line grew.  By 11:30, there were at least 20 people.

But in a prefect example of the mob mentality of humans, no one had actually checked if the staff were inside prepping.  Just like Murphy would predict, the shop had decided to take the day off.  I blame the first few people in line.  But, in the end, the lack of smell or sounds from the shop should have been a give-away to all.


Back on our bikes, we raced to the nearest shop.  Countryside?  It took over 20 minutes on a sportsbike.  Countryside for sure.


Well, the fried rice and pork topping were top notch.  And the ramen?  チャーハンのほうがいい。



The tables all had lucky fortune machines.  Put in 100 yen, spin the wheel, and if your fortune says so, you win some gyoza.


I got the maximum good fortune, but no stamp for free gyoza.  What kind of luck is that!


I won't be back.  Well, I will, but I'll be flying by, heading back to the shop from plan A.


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Chiba-ken, Futtsu-shi, Oshikiri 73
Closest station: Yeah right

Open 11:00-14:00, 17:00-21:00
Closed Wednesdays

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

首里製麺 (Shuriseimen in Daitabashi)



I forgot that this was on my list until after I had finished a bowl at Basanova.  No worries, a double bowl day isn't out of the ordinary.


Located right on the main drag of Daitabashi's Okinawa shopping street, this is the place for sokisoba - ソーキそば, that distinctly island version of ramen.


Homemade 高麗胡椒.  Koregusu is made by soaking chili peppers in Okinawan liquor for a very long amount of time.  It's basically hot sauce that gets you drunk.  Enjoy responsibly.


And the ソーキ.  Pork stewed for hours in a mix of shoyu and more Okinawan liquor.  The most delectable, tender meat that ever touches ramen.


The choice of broth is either Okinawa style, or the shop's own Tokyo version.  Keizo of Go Ramen forced me to order the 首里だし, much heavier than the standard lightweight 沖縄だし.


Put this shop on your hit list.  Shame they are only open until 11pm.


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

Open 11:30-23:00
Closed Wednesdays

Saturday, November 10, 2012

THANK in Daimon

鶏ポタラーメン THANK


Chicken pottage soup is the only kind of ramen at this back-alleyshop in Daimon.


If you're a fan of this style, I can heartily recommend THANK. Choices in soup go from sarari , to torori, to poteri.  Thin to thick, in that order.  The torori is the safe bet, but I would go with the poteri next time.  Super creamy!


Skip the tsukemen.


And thank me later.


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Tokyo, Minato-ku, Shibadaimon 2-1-13
Closest station: Daimon

Open 11:30-15:00, 18:00-22:00
Saurdays 11:30-15:00
Closed Sundays and Holidays