I had a free Saturday, the weather was good, and mega-countryside 江ざわ was still on my list after failing to eat there last year. I had the coordinates in my GPS, what could possibly go wrong?
The shop moved! Only a month ago, they packed up and moved. If you stand outside the new place, a standard, run-of-the-mill shokudo style restaurant, you are bound to meet at least a dozen people who had your idea of amazing tantanmen, but didn't get the news.
We were quite hungry after taking the long way from Tokyo to Chiba, and decided to grab a snack anyways. The fried chicken plate looked much better than it tasted. For those who are interested in talk about routes, you should take the Aqua Line. Or, take the C1 through Tokyo to the 7 to the Keiyo Road, because the C2 doesn't connect with the Keiyo Road route and you will have to go a bit out of your way. Just trust your GPS. Route talk over!
After some talk with the chicken-cook, we found that the new shop is only 40km away, which would probably take 30 minutes on Chiba's back roads. Thankfully we called them before we left. Sure enough, they were out of soup for the day. This was at noon. They open at 11. Crazy.
But I had an ace up my sleeve. Another potentially tasty countryside ramen shop to the north called Hachibei.
My Garmin GPS put us squarely in the middle of a rice paddy. After slowly circling the area for a few kliometers, we made it. It isn't easy to find, but when you finally turn down the correct driveway, you know you are at the right place.
About 30 people waited in line at this little shack. Evidence of the success of Hachibei can be seen next door, at the owners brand new, multi-story house, overlooking the madness below.
This shops specialty is Ariran ramen. The story of Arirang is an interesting one. From the shop's site:
Basically, a famous folk song about the trials of crossing a difficult mountain pass. And sticking with the Japanese belief that garlic, onions, and spices give you stamina, it makes sense that a bowl of Ariran ramen would give you that extra push to make it to the other side.
Wow. Mounds of fresh garlic, onions, and spices went into this one. I've never come across a shoyu ramen with so many aromatic onions and garlic cooked into the soup. Kind of the perfect bowl after a day of riding.
The chashu is excellent, though I was still on the full side from all that fried chicken before.
And the noodles! Homemade and kind of perfect. My buddy Leo on the BMW said, as we waited, that he's not a fan of noodles that absorb the color of the soup. Hachibei changed his mind.
The road back was straight and fast, with just a little traffic in the tunnel under Tokyo Bay.
A solid ride for sure. I've got a jam-packed February, so it looks like the next ramen ride will be in March. And in case you were wondering, the KTM is the same one I had my accident on. If you look very closely you can see the only damage it sustained; a scratch. Wish I could have said the same for my leg!
Stay safe out there!
Official Site Here
Chiba, Ichihara-shi, Yonezawa 344-2
Closest station: Kazusaushiku