Thursday, August 28, 2014

MENSHO in Kasuga



The latest offering from 庄の is simply named MENSHOTOKYO. This comes as the fifth shop in a list that inclides:

All excellent.


A new logo and a new brand means that MENSHO is ready for the world.


The latest shop features lamb ramen. Pork bones and lamb bones make the soup, and the lamb chashu rounds out the unique character of this one.


Lamb is a funky little meat, but works when balanced with the other ingredients.


Of course, as with all Mensho things, noodles are made in house.


And researched in the laboratory.

A laboratory? The shop has a ramen clean-room in the back that will serve as a base for Shono-san and his crew to create new and amazing things.


Expect big things from Mensho in the future.

Official Site Here


Tokyo, Bunkyo-ku, Kasuga 1-15-9
Closest station: Kasuga

Open 11:00-
(They are new, so check the official site for updated information)

Monday, August 25, 2014

HISHIO in Shodoshima

小豆島ラーメン HISHIO

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My travels take me all over Japan, and when I heard that a good friend had moved to Shodoshima, a small island between Okayama and Kagawa in the Seto Inland Sea, I made plans to visit. Shodoshima is famous for their traditional shoyu brewers, and many top shops in Tokyo use craft soy sauce from this remote part of the country.

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Hishio (醤), which is one way to pronounce the sho in shoyu, is the go-to ramen shop on the island. They use as much local goods as possible, taking amazing Seto dried sardines and matching that with the deep shoyu that you expect.

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Coupled with veranda with a sea-side view (come for lunch for the view), and you have a perfect spot to break a 10 day ramen dry spell that I was on.

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Fantastic. The soup is thick and intense, and resembles Wakayama ramen in a sense. A crazy shoyu impact, as expected.


The hishio set comes with a tasty rice bowl on the side.

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Another hit with this shop is the free 替え玉 policy. You want another serving of noodle? Eat as many as you like.

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Though I found that the soup didn't retain the initial flavor with the kaedama.

Shodoshima (小豆島), and the neighboring islands of Teshima (豊島) and Naoshima (直島), should be on your list of places to visit if you have some time. Beautiful views, good food, and a slower pace of life.

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Official Site Here

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Kagawa-ken, Shodogun, Doshomachiko 24-18
Closest station: No trains on this island.

Open 11-14m 17-21
Closed Wednesdays

Thursday, August 21, 2014

鑫渝都摊摊面 (Xinyudu in Beijing, China)



Another supposed hidden gem in Beijing, the internet promised that Xinyudu was as authentic as it gets, albeit in the food court of a fancy department store.


Traditional Chinese characters for tantanmen anyone? 摊摊面 becomes 坦坦麺 becomes 坦々麺.


According to the aforementioned internet recommendation, the staff all speak with a heavy Chongqing accent; a sure sign of authenticity.


Another authentic touch is the addition of dongcai, a mix of pickled cabbage and mustard greens. Dongcai (冬菜) is dark green, and I can't say that I've ever eaten it before (though I probably have).


Hmmmm . . . no dongcai. I guess they are under new management.


I wasn't too impressed with this one. It was generally good, though nowhere near the bowls I can get at many, many places in Tokyo.


As usual, it gets tastier as you get to the bottom.


Ah, a well written article on the internet that is, unfortunately, out of date. Such is the problem with modern China. Actually, this writeup will only be viewed illegally, as Ramen Adventures is on the Blogger platform, a site that is blocked by the Chinese government. Along with Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, and Google. Chinese readers coming here by way of their illegal VPN service, I welcome you.

I also welcome any suggestions for Beijing. I really enjoyed my three nights there (taking advantage of the free 72-hour layover visa) and plan on visiting again when I get a chance.


朝阳区建国路87号新光 天地地下1层
Shin Kong Place, 87 Jianguo Lu, Chaoyang District

Open 10-10

Monday, August 18, 2014

张妈妈特色川味馆 (Zhang Ma Ma in Beijing, China)



I usually take a big overseas trip in July. This time was to Africa. A direct flight from Kenya back to Tokyo was in the cards, until I read that travelers can get a free 72 hour transit visa in China. The perfect chance to crush a couple bowls of spicy tantanmen in the capital!


I donned my official World Cup 2014 Japan team jersey and set out on a rented bike for a tantanmen . . . sorry . . . dandanmian adventure!


Beijing is amazing by bicycle. The main roads all have dedicated bicycle lanes (though the black government Audis may butt in during heavy traffic). Jutting out like capillaries are the hutong, small streets lined with whatever wants to take up residence. Mostly homes, but a few tiny restaurants end up in the mix. Everything on the hutong feels hidden.

Zhang mama came recommended as a hidden gem.


Just look for the crowded hole-in-the-wall. I read that lines out the door are common, though this time I just had to walk in and push my way onto whatever table had a free chair.


Dandanmian and a beer. 13RMB. That's about two bucks for those budgeting their money.


Remember to mix it up. A big bite of the top will leave your mouth number from the lama, the sansho peppers that you had better love. The middle bite is nothing but noodles. And the bottom. The bottom is a fiery spice mix that required that beer.


Also in the self-service fridge are skewers of vegetables and animal parts, and something that looked like a yogurt drink.


Whatever the other tables were going for, it all looked great. Bowls of spicy oil for cooking the skewers, plates of brown-colored meats and tofu, and lots and lots of noodles.


The flavors get deeper and deeper as you slowly work to the bottom. Power through it, the pain was only temporary. And though I dig the kodawari style of Japanese tantanmen, with more complex undertones, this bowl of the real stuff was solid.


An Ding Men Nei Da Jie & Fen Si Ting Hu Tong, Dongcheng Qu, Beijing Shi, China, 100009 

Dongcheng qu fen si ting hutong 4 hao (an ding men nei da jie xi ce)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

治ちゃん (Haruchan in Mishima, Shizuoka)



My company put us up in Mishima, a small city that acts as a transport hub for the tourist mecca of the Izu Peninsula. I wandered around for a bit, but there wasn't much to see in terms of noodles.


Then I found Bird Bar. Occupying a corner wedge near the south side of the station, this little standing bar was packed with attractive young guys and girls, all who were stopping for a quick drink before starting work. Work at 10pm? Let your imagination run wild.

One stylish lady on her way to a job at a hostess club recommended Haruchan for a 500 yen bowl of tonkotsu ramen.

Yes ma'am!


Sure, this works. These countryside ramenyas are always a decent way to end an evening of drinking.


Not worth a trek, but check them out if your company ever puts you up in Mishima.


Shizuoka-ken, Mishima-shi, Ichimabcho 3-12
Closest station: Mishima

Open 5:00pm-2:00am
Closed Sundays

Monday, August 11, 2014

横浜家 (Yokohamaya in ???)



Some big chain. Maybe it is near a station. We were driving, so I can't be sure. Feel free to do your own research on this one. Searching for 横浜家 on the net brings up a million results, as 横浜家 just means Yokohama Shop.


Can you tell which direction this review is going?


At least I learned a new Japanese phrase. 盛り放題, morihodai, ice cream means you can stack as much on your cone as you want. I should have stuck with the ice cream.


Whoever gets suckered into being the shop master for the day gets their photo put up on the board in the front. Would a different portrait produce a different bowl?


Probably not.


Address: I didn't check. Somewhere on some main road in Kanagawa, maybe.
Hours: Probably 24/7
Nearest station: I dunno
Website: Probably this one.