Friday, December 28, 2012

北海道のラーメンお土産 (Hokkaido Ramen Gifts)



I usually avoid ramen gift packs. Though the noodles are semi-fresh (alcohol is added to preserve them), it is usually a waste of money in my opinion.


But Hokkaido puts five shops, each distinct of a different region, into one box. Very cool.


They were all decent. That is as far of a compliment that you will hear from Ramen Adventures. For only about 1000 yen, it makes for a good conversation starter.


As does the ramen pudding.


Yep, everything in that bowl is some sort of desert. Chocolate chashu. Caramel soup. Puff cream egg.


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

結心 (Kesshin in Jiyugaoka)

つけ麺 結心


Just a stamp on a stamp card.


I spent more time looking up the name of this forgotten shop than I did eating there.

I had better win a prize for my stamp-getting efforts.


Not particularly bad, just boring.

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Tokyo, Muguro-ku, Jiyugaoka 1-11-3
Closest station: Jiyugaoka

 Open 11:00-4:00am

Saturday, December 22, 2012

にしかわ (Nishikawa in Shizuoka)



Shizuoka city is just over an hour from Tokyo on the next bullet train. Don't go packing your bags just yet, there isn't a lot going on out here . . . or is there?


The first thing you should do when travelling to a new place is find out what the local food scene is all about.  Turns out Shizuoka is known for oden, skewers of fishcake and other goodies simmered in a distinctly Japanese broth. Just head down to one of the city's many oden streets, find an old-lady-run shop, and enjoy. Shizuoka has their own brand of the stuff, with a darker dashi than other cities.


If oden isn't your thing, check out this gelato shop. Nothing but local green tea ice cream. Seven levels of matcha!


Anyways, the ramen. The local issue of Shizuoka Ramen Walker (yes, every prefecture has one of these magazines) awarded only one shop in the city limits with a spot in the top 20. Shizuoka prefecture, like most non-Tokyo prefectures, might require a bit of a drive to find the best noodles.


Nishikawa delivers. All the parts of a good bowl are here, from the golden soup to the chewy noodles, to decent chashu on top. Open late to boot.


So pack your bags!  Shizuoka city is actually quite a gourmet destination. In one night, I was able to gorge myself on oden, sample some local gelato, drink at two of the many craft-beer bars, and top it off with some ramen. Check out the excellent English site Shizuoka Gourmet for a ton of info.


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Shizuoka-ken, Shizuoka-shi, Aoi-ku, Ryogaecho 2-5-3
Closest station: Shizuoka

Open 11:30-13:00, 18:00-1:00am (3am on Saturdays)
Closed Tuesdays

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

海老だしの哲 (Ebidashi Tetsu in Setagaya)



I get overly excited about stamp rallies.  What better way to justify an unending appetite for noodles than with a convenient excuse.

I don't need to eat all this ramen, but if I eat eight bowls, I can win some chopsticks!


And I got overly excited for another reason.  This shop, promising a shrimp based soup, is produced by TETSU, one of the best tsukemen places in Tokyo.  I like shrimp, and I like TETSU.


But despite my finishing the dregs of this bowl, my previous overreaction was severely balanced by the under-performance of this bowl.  Nothing stood out, and I would say the only memorable thing about this shop was it's location on a bustling shopping street in the often overlooked southern edges of Tokyo.


Official Site

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Tokyo, Shinagawa-ku, Hiratsuka 1-8-1
Closest station: Togoshiginza

Open 11:00-15:30, 17:00-23:00
Weekends 11:00-24:00

Sunday, December 16, 2012

開高 (Kaiko in Sapporo's Airport)

麺屋 開高


I avoid airport ramen like the plague.  The best you can hope for is something from Ajisen, which isn't saying much.  That was my general opinion . . . until I went to Sapporo.  The New Chitose airport is a sight to see.


Hokkaido is mega-famous for local food.  Ramen sits alongside fresh seafood, dairy products, and regional specialties like gingisukan, a lamb dish named after Ghengis Khan.  The airport pays homage to it all, and you could easily spend four or five hours exploring and eating.

Much like the Ramen Republic at Sapporo's station, you'll find the Ramen Dojo here.  Same concept.

We picked a shop that had a wall of celebrity autograph plaques and not too much of a wait time.  Kaiko had the perfect balance.


The recommended, and limited, Tokachi Pork Noodles are the way to go.  Tokachi is an area of Hokkaido that is known for mega-tender pigs.  Maybe it is the cold winters.  Maybe it is the strict whey diet.


And the soup.  Those same local pig bones are cooked for hours and blended with either a white or a red miso blend.


This is what you want in miso ramen.  The creaminess of the pork bones and the saltiness of the miso, perfection.  The pork up top is just an added bonus.

After a lackluster bowl in central Sapporo, I'm very happy to leave on a full stomach.  I'll be back to Sapporo again sometime next year, hopefully with some more local ramen knowledge and a little more time.



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New Chitose Airport Terminal 3F

Open 10:30-8:30

Thursday, December 13, 2012

大心 (Daishin in Sapporo)

大心 - 札幌らーめん共和国


Not a lot of time in Sapporo?  Want to eat good ramen? Can't decipher this map?


Well don't worry, the 10th floor of the main railway station houses the 札幌らーめん共和国, Sapporo Ramen Kyowakoku.  The Republic of Ramen?  Nice!  At the time of writing, you can choose from four Sapporo shops, and one from Hakodate, Asahikawa, Ebetsu, and Tokyo.


I picked Daishi simply because there was a fat kid stuffing his face.  I should have done my research!  Like I said, not a lot of time.


And the ramen?  How was this miso blend?


Meh.  Strictly average.  A little too oily, though that is a common theme with Sapporo ramen.  Even though I didn't have time to try it, Shirakabasanso (白樺山荘) looked like the winner of the group.

Next time!  Half size bowls are available, so a normal ramen slurper with a healthy appetite could easily eat at half the shops.


Official Site

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Sapporo Station - Este Building 10F
Closest station: Sapporo

Open 11:00-22:00

Monday, December 10, 2012

666 in Setagaya



How do you think I became such a famous ramen personality?  Making thousands of dollars a week from ad referrals, selling books by the series, appearing on my own Food Network show.  Well, I sold me soul to the devil, that's how!  And now he's here to collect. (cue the creepy mood music)


Then I woke up.  My ad referral payments amount to about five bowls of ramen a year.  The book idea was crushed by some execs at the publisher.  And my presence on TV only occurs when a Japanese morning show wants a token white guy to slurp some noodles.  But at least the Satan part is coming true! (you still have that music cued?)


This newcomer is a winner.  Just look at these toppings.  Rare cuts of marinated pork, and perfectly broiled, tender chicken breast.


The soup is a rich niboshi-shoyu, though they have a shio on hand as well.  I heard through the ramen-vine that the shoyu is much better.


It is unknown why the 666 theme.  The shop's BGM isn't any kind of Norwegian death metal, and there's nothing on the walls aside from a poster of Rafaello's angels. Satan was an angel once.


If you really want to get down, go for the ニボガツ.  It's a serious kick in the pants of niboshi and garlic.


Official Site Here

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Tokyo, Setagaya-ku, Komazawa 4-19-11
Closest station: Komazawadaigaku

Open 11:30-15:00, 18:00-1:00am
Closed Mondays

Friday, December 7, 2012

Tokyo Ramen Show 2012

Tokyo Ramen Show 2012


Yeah, I ended up going.


I didn't want to, especially since last year's event was only slightly better than the lame experience two years ago; where I waited in line for three hours and then had to leave empty stomached because I had somewhere to be.


But a recent stamp card rally requires a visit.  Isn't that reason enough to go?  By the way, all recent ramen reviews from Setagaya-ku are due to this stamp card.  I'm a sucker for these promotions!


How about the idols?  Maybe that is your thing?


Or the . . . pro wrestlers?


This is Yoshihiro Takayama, and by the sheer number of fans posing for photos, he must be quite well known.


His ramen, from the aptly named Stomach Hold, was downright miserable.  Tasted like beansprout water, if that is a thing.


Also on hand was Ryukishin, straight from England!  But wait, the shop is a chain in Osaka that opened a shop in London.  Do they get to flaunt that at the show?


Apparently they do.  Osaka-based blogger Friend's in Ramen describes it best; "a solid and refreshing if not-very-exciting chicken shio bowl."


Then I watched an "air ramen" competition and decided to go home.

My two less than stellar bowls might have something to do with the line length.  I was all by myself, so I passed on the two hour lines for gyutan tantanmen from Sendai and Osaka Black, opting for medium sized lines instead.  These events are slightly bearable if you go with a group of ramen nuts.  Otherwise, skip them.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Yahoo Japan Ramen Ambassadors

Along with eight other ramen nuts, I was named one of Yahoo Japan's 2012 Ramen Ambassadors.  We all helped to create content, and you can check it out at:

The best part, goofy videos!

I talk about the easy process of ordering ramen using a fancy ticket machine.

Ramen 101, anyone?

Ben ( lays down some Osaka knowledge.

Super energy from Kyoto!

Keizo! Go Ramen! (

Awesome, I recommended she go to this shop for the best spice in Tokyo.

Ramen business?  The most educational of the videos by far.

Checking in with Ivan at his shop.  Good luck in New York.

I'm not anti-Jiro, just minor-Jiro.  This is Jiro.

There will be some more content to this site soon; maps, guides, and shops. In multiple languages! Enjoy!

破顔 (Hagan in Sakuradai)



This bowl was actually another outing with the local Mormons.  What better way to console the losing side of the recent American presidential election than with a nice bowl of soupless noodles!


Hagan is very highly rated in the magazines and online.  They offer a regular ramen, but do yourself a favor and get their signature 汁なし.  The flame broiled bits of pork are fantastic.


Little bits of dried fish and some heavy soy tare blend perfectly.  Free omori size at lunch time, but the regular was big enough for me.


Official Site

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Tokyo, Nerima-ku, Sakuradai 1-5-11
Closest station: Sakuradai

Open 11:30-14:00, 18:30-12:30
Sundays 11:00-about 5:00
Closed Mondays