Thursday, February 28, 2013

ごたる (Gotaru in Numabukuro)



Simple, creamy, and inexpensive describe the Hakata ramen at Gotaru. The chashu is especially buttery, and it almost melts in your mouth. This bowl goes on the short-list of great tonkotsu ramen shops in Tokyo.


View Larger Map

Tokyo, Nakano-ku, Arai 3-38-10
Closest station: Numabukuro

Open 11:30-14:30, 17:00-23:00
Weekends 11:30-23:00
Closed Mondays

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

庄のの限定 (Gnocchi Cream Limited at Shono)



Another over-the-top gentei at Shono.


The soup was a niboshi-shio thing with heavy hits of mushroom. Gnocchi in a cream sauce makes things weird.


And a honey roasted lemon to squeeze on top. Kind of overkill, this one.


Original review here.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

カッパ64 (Kappa 64 in Ushihama)



Kappa 64 was ranked as the number one new original ramen (well, tied with the Uni Cream Tsukemen at Tairyo Makoto) in Tokyo. So what took so long to check it out?


The shop is way out in Ushihama. Ushi-what? I am probably in the top 5% for obscure station trivia, what with my current non-ramen job, but I had never heard of this one. For those keeping track, transfer in Tachikawa and take the Ome line for a ways.


The originality here comes from the three parts of the soup. First, a thick pork and chicken soup. Second, a tomato soup blend. Third, a healthy serving of pomodoro style tomato sauce.


The noodles, just thick enough to grab this sweet and spicy mix, are made on site.


Recommended if you happen to be out in this neck of the woods.


This shop is very near the Yokota military base, so maybe some servicemen can drag themselves away from the Taco Bell and give it a try!

You didn't know? There is a Taco Bell on the base! It may be the only one in Japan.


View Larger Map

Tokyo, Fussa-shi, Kitadenen 1-6-9
Closest station: Ushihama

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

Friday, February 22, 2013

ソラノイロの限定 (Limited Soy Ramen at Soranoiro)



Looks kind of sloppy, but this limited offering from Soranoiro was great. A little tangy from the tomato based soup. A little creamy from the soy milk. A little spicy from the veggie-mix.


And that white thing up top. I thought it was some grilled mochi, but it turned out to be cheese.

Oh, the noodles are colored with cocoa powder.


Please don't come to Japan and eat too many of these off-the-wall gentei. But for someone who lives here and eats ramen with any sort of regularity, itadakimasu!

Original review of Soranoiro here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

どんどん (Dondon in Shinjuku)



I've been here seven or eight times before. Not for the aburasoba, but for the sutameshi. Sutameshi is a pork bowl, and Dondon's pork bowls are available in West Shinjuku 24 hours a day. Fried pork, cheese, and a raw egg go on a giant bowl of rice. Green Tabasco sauce is a condiment that I can't get enough of, and it is sitting on the counter. All for about 700 yen. Solid grub.


Well, the other menu item had its chance. The aburasoba, soupless noodles heavy on the oil. A quirt of black vinegar and a squirt of spicy rayu. Mix mix mix.


It wasn't good. At all.


But seriously, than sutameshi is my go-to junk food in this part of town.


Official Site here.

View Larger Map
(I think this map is wrong. It is on the west side, not east)

Tokyo, Shinjuku-ku, Shinjuku 3-34-14
Closest station: Shinjuku

Open 24/7

Monday, February 18, 2013

風雲児の限定 (Limited Mazemen at Fuunji)



I got the last one of the day. Solid!


This 15-a-day limited mazemen is topped with a spicy ground pork mix that puts the kara in karaumai. Definitely not a spice level to be scared of, but up there none-the-less.


Is every good shop making random gentei these days?


Tasty, for sure, but make it a point to stick with the tsukemen if you haven't been to this, my #1 ramen shop in Japan.


Original review here.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

gotsubo in Shinjuku



The third shop from highly desirable Menya Shono is here, and I had an exclusive invite to the pre-open extravaganza! Well, me and every other ramen nerd in town.


Gotsubo can be read as 五坪, and translates to five tsubo. A tsubo is an old Japanese measurement of area; about three square meters. Yeah, the shop is a measly 15 square meters in size. More on this later.


The concept is vegetables. No, nothing vegetarian here, but the idea is that instead of noodles, you dip piles of colorful, fresh veggies into the soup. The menu is full of options.


It is artistic, colorful, and a lot of fun.


But . . .


 . . . the line for this pre-open event was long, about 25 people. While this can be normal for popular ramen, the shop only seats six people, and the process of cooking vegetables and arranging the plate takes much, much longer than an average bowl of noodles. The normal noodle formula for a ramen line is (time to wait) = (# of people) x (4 minutes). So 25 means about an hour and a half. Try two and a half. In winter. The forecast called for snow in Tokyo.

I totally recommend this shop, but if there are more than five people waiting, you might want to question your devotion to noodles.


Official Site Here

View Larger Map

Tokyo, Shinjuku-ku, Shinjuku 1-32-15
Closest station: Shinjuku 3-chome

Open 11:00-15:00, 16:00-22:00

Thursday, February 14, 2013

鳴龍 (Nakiryu in Otsuka)

創作麺工房 鳴龍


**Edit from 2016**
This review is quite old, and they have since changed their recipe a bit. Still awesome. Congratulations on your Michelin star.

**This review is from 2013**
Highly ranked shio and homemade noodles set Nakiryu apart from the countless chains that dominate the Otsuka area.

The shop's thick shio tare (the seasoning liquid that gives all the flavor) is made from extra high-grade kelp, dried scallops, and premium ago fish. And Mongolian salt.


This was the best egg I've had so far. That's number one out of approximately 2000 eggs I've had in bowls of ramen in Japan. And I can finally explain why. Ramen shops have pretty much perfected the ooey-gooey half cooked egg by now. It has always been that an egg is either bad, good, or great. How can you rank something with this three point scale? How is one great egg different from another great egg?

It comes down to the soup. More specifically, the impact / aftertaste level of the soup. A heavy soup, shoyu or tonkotsu, anything but shio to be honest, will overpower the light umami of the egg. This isn't a bad thing for the bowl overall, but it doesn't let the egg shine.

At Nakiryu, the egg can shine. I've never tasted such savory flavor.


Everyone in the shop (seven lunchtime slurpers) ordered the tantanmen, so I'll be back.


Official site here.

View Larger Map

Tokyo, Toshima-ku, Minami Otsuka 2-34-2
Closest station: Otsuka

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

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

蔦 (Tsuta in Sugamo)

Thanks for coming to this page. It is getting a lot of hits with the new Michelin news. Please read my latest post if you are planning to check out this amazing ramen shop.


Tsuta is the new king in town. Given the coveted #1 spot in the only ranking that really matters, Tokyo Ramen of the Year (TRY) magazine, for new shops.


This is shoyu perfection. Until now, shoyu at this level was only available at En and 69 n' Roll One; both shops about an hour from central Tokyo. Tsuta is only a minute walk from Sugamo Station on the Yamanote line. Super convenient.


It's all about the minor details. Tsuta's tare is made from a blend of three different soy sauces. The main is from Shodoshima (小豆島), a small island in the middle of Japan's Seto Inland Sea. The others are 生揚げ, raw unpasteurized soy sauces, from Ibaraki and Wakayama.

Sorry, no Kikkoman here.

The resulting taste is an intense, slightly sweet mix that suddenly puts Sugamo on the ramen map.


I work here in Sugamo once a week, so this is good news indeed.


View Larger Map

Tokyo, Toshima-ku, Sugamo 1-14-1
Closest station: Sugamo

Open 11:30-14:30, 18:00-20:00
Thursdays and Sundays 11:30-14:30
Closed Mondays

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Cha-ba-na in Sugamo



I've walked by here approximately 3000 times, as it is on the way to one of my jobs, and I used to live in the area. Asian noodles of all kinds; Pho, tom yum noodles, curry ramen, and mohinga.


I don't wanna talk about it anymore. All the parts of the bowl were off in one way or another. Is it racist to say that most Southeast Asian style food should stay in Southeast Asia?


View Larger Map

Tokyo, Toshima-ku, Sugamo 1-11-6
Closest station: Sugamo

Closed Mondays

Friday, February 8, 2013

すみす (Sumisu in Aoyama)



Sumisu has already been awarded the praise of almost every ramen magazine and website. Go ahead and add Ramen Adventures to that list.


It is a new shop, and it is hit or miss in Tokyo when it comes to new shops.


Creamy paitan is the base here. Chicken soup that has been cooked long enough to bring out all that fatty collagen. Toppings are choice, with four kinds of various meats to enjoy.


The tantanmen was just ok, go with the one of the shoyu options.


View Larger Map

Tokyo, Minato-ku, Minami Aoyama 2-2-15
Closest station: Aoyama Itchome

Open 11:00-16:00, 17:00-22:00