Monday, June 30, 2014

天手毬 (Ten Temari in Shimokitazawa)



Shimokitazawa's most famous tantanmen shop just proves that Shimokitazawa isn't a place to go for tantanmen.


Everything here was weak, especially the 150 yen "set" option, seen below.


Nope, not feeling this place at all.


But, they are open very late. If I wasn't such a ramen snob, this would be a fun place to grab a 2am bowl after a night of drinking in one of the coolest parts of Tokyo.


Tokyo, Setagaya-ku, Kitazawa 2-12-7
Closest station: Shimokitazawa

Open 11:00-3:30am
Sunday, Monday, Tuesday until 23:30

Thursday, June 26, 2014

おおぜき (Ozeki in Ebisu)



Ebisu has historically been one of Tokyo's ramen battle grounds. And though recent years have seen the ramen war being fought on a much grander scale, it is still nice to find a winner in this part of town.


The niboshisoba at Ozeki is a light, pure blend of smoky dried fish from around Japan. This style has been done to death lately, but Ozeki seems to be a little more no-nonsense than a lot of contenders.


Simple and smooth. This is the ultimate after-drinking ramen. Just a minute walk from one of my favorite Tokyo cocktail bars.


Chukasoba and a creamy chicken soup are also on the menu, and both have been praised as well.


Worthy of TV coverage.



Tokyo, Shibuya-ku, Ebisunishi 1-9-4
Closest station: Ebisu

Open 11:30-22:00
Closed Sundays

Monday, June 23, 2014

つなぎ (Tsunagi in Ebisu)

濃厚背脂拉麺 繋 つなぎ


Tsunagi is fairly new on the scene, exactly one year ago at the time of slurping.


New, but very well regarded. The concept here is thick miso with homemade noodles. And though that is nothing new, Tsunagi drops in a healthy, or unhealthy depending on your views, serving of seabura in the mix. Seabura, pork back fat.


With a slightly sweet blend of six types of miso, this is a flavor-rich bowl.


If you aren't getting enough stimulation from the sweet broth, chewy noodles, and silky back fat, go ahead and add some sansho, Chinese numbing pepper.


Great stuff, and all those toppings (extra pork, egg, extra nori) only cost an extra 200 yen. That's a steal!


Unique bowls like this are gems. While most miso ramen can be expected to taste a certain way, Tsunagi goes for something unique, and really brings it.


Nice work, Takahashi-san!



Official Site Here

Tokyo, Shibuya-ku, Ebisu 1-4-1
Closest station: Ebisu

Open 11:00-23:00
Weekends 11:00-22:00

Thursday, June 19, 2014

卍力 (Manriki in Nishi-Kasei)

スパイス・ラー麺 卍力


Manriki comes at you with a heavy connection to one of the best shops in Tokyo; Kikanbo. The tencho is an old employee of Miura-san, the tencho at Kikanbo. One of the staff is Miura's younger brother. The shop used to belong to Miura's father; an old monja-yaki joint.


And, with anything connected to Kikanbo and their crazy spicy noodles, you can expect some heat at this one.


Similar to the miso spice at Kikanbo, but ultimately unique. This one is more inspired by Indian flavors, while retaining that Kikanbo charm.


The spice levels are fantastic. Since the shop opened in May of 2014, they have only had one menu item, with one level of spice. Word is that the future will offer stronger and maybe weaker options. For now, though, anyone with even the most minute love of spice should check this one out.


A big winner in the spicy genre of ramen in Tokyo.


And . . . the swastika. Hopefully, readers of Ramen Adventures know that this symbol exists outside of the well known Aryan one.

The shop is adorned with hand crafted gold swastikas on a black background. Striking. One of the most beautiful shops I've been to.


What's this?


Now that's dedication! Ohashi-san is one of those workaholic ramen shop masters that slave for their craft. Days off? Not for him; Manriki is open seven days a week.


Don't wait for the 2014 ramen magazines to come out, go to Manriki as soon as you can.

Tokyo, Edogawa-ku, Nishikasei 3-16-5
Closest station: Nishi-Kasei

Open Weekdays 17:00-24:00
Weekends 11:30-15:00, 17:30-22:00

Monday, June 16, 2014

トイ・ボックス (Toy Box in Minowa)

ラーメン屋 トイ・ボックス


Toy Box is another new-on-the-scene winner. Does this bowl look familiar?


The above shot is of the infamous 69 'N' Roll One. Ramen nerds rejoice, ramen nerds lament. The original Machida shop of 69 'N' Roll One was epic. Then they shut down to move to greener pastures in Akasaka, and their quality suffered. I'm sure there is a lot more going on here, some behind-the-scenes ramen drama (dra-men?). Speculation, as I have no knowledge of why one of the best ramen shops in the world suddenly disappeared.


It would make sense that those who worked at 69 'N' Roll would go on to do their own great things. Toy Box is a perfect example. Yamagami-san crafted his skills, and now has Toy Box to show for it.


Shoyu, shio, and an aburasoba made with chicken oil. The shop also has a miso ramen that comes and goes.


Chicken oil is a tough ingredient. It can ruin anything it touches, and a delicate balance is needed. Only a few shops really work wonders with this ingredient. Saikoro comes to mind.


The aburasoba is a tasty mess of oil, flavor, an noodles.


But it is the shoyu that really shines.

Shoyu that is definitely a cousin of the award wining Rock and Roll ramen. Deep soy flavors and perfectly cooked toppings.


Worth a trek to the eastern reaches of Tokyo.

Be warned that the shop is quite strict, and will not be happy if you don't finish everything.


Tokyo, Arakawa-ku, HIgashinippori 1-1-3
Closest staiton: Minowa

Open 11:00-15:00, 18:00-21:00
Sundays 11:00-15:00
Closed Mondays and some Tuesdays

Thursday, June 12, 2014

1/20 in Arakawa



1/20, pronounced nijubannoichi, was featured as one of the best new shops of 2013 in some ramen magazines. Of course, this was one on the list. However, getting there is an adventure in itself.


The Toden Arakawa Line (都電荒川線). Even though I've been a Tokyo resident for a number of years, I've never set foot on the famed relic of Tokyo's former streetcar system.

It would be in poor taste for this ramen-nerd to talk trash about trains, so I'll counter the comment that this is the slowest method of transport I've ever seen (I think I could have run some stretches in less time) with the fact that riding it end-to-end will show you a fantastic side of Tokyo you'd never see from the subway.


And if you come in May, the whole track is covered with roses! How random!


On to the ramen.


1/20 is your standard new-style bowl. Rich in niboshi and chicken flavors, with a nice umami kick from the tare. Digging into the secret ingredients, you'll find sakura ebi, little pink shrimp that kick things up.


The real draw is what goes on top. Slow cooked pork chashu, tender chicken chashu, and hearty duck chashu. Yeah, that trifecta of roasted meats put 1/20 on my list of recommended shops.


Just plan for the time it takes to get here.


The name has some meaning, but I forgot what the master said. Sorry!


Tokyo, Arakawa-ku, Higashiogu 2-19-9
Closest station: Higashiogusanchome

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