Monday, September 29, 2014

楽観 (Rakkan in Musashi-Koyama)



Rakkan opened in Roppongi a few years back, and immediately became a hit. Lines out the door, and closing hours that were simply "when the soup runs out". The shop was closed every time I tried to go.


Then, in a strange move, they shut down and moved to Tachikawa, about an hour out of central Tokyo.


Then, in another strange move, they opened a 2nd shop in Musashi-Koyama, an unlikely suburb of the big city. As Musashi-Koyama is much closer, a quick trip was in order.


I can see why this one was popular. Simple shoyu, hit with niboshi, and topped with a mass of diced onion. This is Hachioji-style done perfectly.


The shio with olive oil also looked excellent.


Official Site Here


Tokyo, Meguro-ku, Megurohoncho 3-3-12
Closest station: Musashi-Koyama

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

Thursday, September 25, 2014

三楽 (Sango in Obihiro, Hokkaido)



Welcome to the drunkest ramen shop in Japan.


I arrived at Sango at around 1am. The group of five gangsters lingering outside quickly informed me that "Hey, get in line!" I responded with a simple "Ah, the lines in Obihiro are messed up, just as expected!" Apparently, my joke went over well, and we were buddy-buddy for the next minute or so.

After said minute, a very inebriated gentleman in grey walked out, looked down the street, and yelled at a guy in a garish multi-colored suit. "Hey you sumabitch!". Rainbow suit dude then ran over, uppercut the salaryman, and soccer ball kicked him in the back. The brawl continued, and soon the entire Obihiro police force was present.


Inside, the group of sauced ladies sitting next to me introduced themselves as kyodai. Oh, you all go to Kyoto Daigaku? Of course, kyodai means sisters, and these girls were definitely not Kyoto Dai material. My vocabulary slip made in impression on an older gentlemen sitting next to me, who proceeded to pay for everyone in the shop. I didn't look for the missing pinkie finger, but signs pointed to him being the boss. These are stories that only happen when alcohol is present.


But how was the ramen?

Well, I too was quite tipsy, so it was definitely one of the best bowls of the week. Smooth Hokkaido miso topped with a copious amount of seasoned pork. Just what was needed!

And quite the hangover tisane as well!


Hokkaido, Obihiro-shi, Nishi 2 Jominami 10-1-5
Closest station: Obihiro

Open 19:00-5:00am

Monday, September 22, 2014

蔦の葉 (Tsutanoha in Sugamo)



Tsutanoha sits on a side street in Sugamo, on the opposite of the station of the original shop, Tsuta. Tsuta is one of the best shops in Tokyo these days, and their leaf shop (葉 means leaf) is bound to be another hit.


The shop serves a menu similar to the original, with shoyu, shio, and niboshi being the norm. Towards the bottom of the menu, though, is something never before seen, 鴨油, duck oil, tsukemen. This should be interesting.


Interesting indeed! The duck oil really sticks in your mouth, something that I don't think most people would like. It took me a couple years to get a taste for chicken oil, and this one is like chicken oil times ten. Intense.

The orange is meant to be inspired by French duck with orange sauce. Clever.

The noodles, chashu, and egg were very good.


I'd say stick with the original ramen, and go for this one on your second visit.


Tokyo, Tokushima-ku, Sugamo 4-24-6
Closest station: Sugamo

Open 11:30-15:00, 18:00-20:00
Weekends 11:00-15:00
Closed Mondays

Thursday, September 18, 2014

スージーハウス (Sooji House in Yotsuya)



Soo Shee Ha Oo Soo


I cam here to film with one of my regular TV gigs; eating ramen with the junior idol group X21. The topic of this week's show was newly opened tsukemen shops. The gimmick of Sooji House was that the master used to be a professional hair dresser. He even won some sort of hair/make competition.


Well, we had the tsukemen topped with lemon. I thought we would be filming some b-roll footage of the bowl after shooting with the talent, but that didn't happen. So I don't really have a photo of this bowl. Sorry.

It was standard.


東京都新宿区 四谷1-2-6
Tokyo, Shinjuku-ku, Yotsuya 1-2-6
Closest station: Yotsuya

Open 11:30-23:00
Sundays 11:30-15:00

Monday, September 15, 2014

井田商店 (Ida Shoten in Nakanobu)



Ida Shoten is a gem out near Nakanobu. Though it isn't far from central Tokyo, this part of town feels like you've taken a time machine back 30 years, and then hopped a local train out into an unnamed residential part of the country.


Inspired by the master's home prefecture of Hiroshima, Ida Shoten does an Onomichi style that gets better after the initial bite. I was a bit underwhelmed by the impact, but once the chunks of seabura - pork back fat - melted a bit, nothing was stopping me.


A solid bowl, though the ramen otaku out there will point to other shops in the area as being superb.


Give it a try, though. You won't be disappointed.


Ask them for a sticker if you make it out!


Tokyo, Shinagawa-ku, Nakanobu 2-16-8
Closest station: Ebaranakanobu

Open 11:30-14:30, 18:00-23:00
Weekends 11:30-19:00
Closed Mondays

Thursday, September 11, 2014

冷し中華 - Hiyashi Roundup 2014


Summer is the time when successful ramen shops get creative with a dish of cold noodles called hiyashi chuka. Often soupless, these creations can have anything in them, so long as they use cold ramen noodles. It is a great way to beat the heat.

Here are some 2014 bowls.


Kagari in Ginza served a tare jelly with smoked duck, scallops, scrambled egg, and a side of tomato.


Kikanbo in Kanda used a special aromatic sansho pepper from Okayama Prefecture to season the roast chicken, eggplant, and cherry tomatoes.


Senrigan was off the hook. The mound of moyashi bean sprouts was replaced with a daikon salad. Then drizzled with a sesame dressing. Then, as expected from Senrigan, drizzled with half a cup of pork back fat. Amazing.

Monday, September 8, 2014

ら・けいこ (Rakeiko in Nagoya)



Walking back to the hotel, literally on the same block as the last spot I slurped, was an unassuming hole in the wall that caught my eye. The menu, located on the street, had just two choices; with or without soup. Rakeiko calls themselves a スープ無専門店, a soupless noodle specialty shop, so it was a no-brainer.


Simple; just fat, carbs, and salt.


The only thing it was missing was a nice, runny egg on top. By the way, the above shot is half-sized noodles, a request I made. Being a Jiro-inspired shop, you can expect a voluminous mass as standard.

Also, ninniku irimasu ka?


I left very happy, and very satisfied.


Aichi-ken, Nagoya-shim Chuo-ku, Sakae 4-12-6
Closest station: Sakae

Open 11:00-15:00, 18:00-21:00
Closed Sundays

Thursday, September 4, 2014

麺屋壱の介 (Ichinosuke in Nagoya)



Ichinosuke was a recommendation from my Facebook fan page. But the minute I walked in, ordered, and pulled out my camera, the single staff member behind the counter yelled at me. No photos!

His bluntness came off as rude, and when he turned around for a moment I tried to take a ninja shot of my bowl. Alas, this is a new camera and I am still learning the quirks.


So maybe this shop is good, but being yelled at for doing something I love, at a place with no customers, put a bad taste in my mouth. For reference, they serve a thick toripaitan soup.

I won't be going back.


Aichi-ken, Nagoya-shi, Chuo-ku, Sakae 4-12-21
Closest station: Sakae

Open 11:30-15:00, 18:00-2:00am
Saturday 11:30-2:00am
Sunday 11:30-12:00am

Monday, September 1, 2014

華丸 (Hanamaru in Hagiwara, Aichi)



The company put us up in Ichinomiya, about 15 minutes from Nagoya. Not a lot going on in this part of Japan (though I did find a retro gaming bar called Genesis; with almost every console ever made). A local search for ramen showed Hanamaru as the obvious (and only) choice.


Just a few stops down the line.


Just a few blocks from the station.



Solid. This bowl of rich tonkotsu soup was slightly reminiscent of my favorite bowl in the country (of this style), Orenoramenappare. I say slightly reminiscent, so don't go running across the country just yet.


But if you find yourself in the northern parts of Aichi Prefecture, definitely check this one out.


The pork was excellent, so if you have an appetite, go for extra toppings.


Aichi-ken, Ichinomiya-shi, Hagiwaracho, Kushisaku 1407-2
Closest station: Hagiwara

Open 11:30-14:00, 17:30-21:00
Closed Wednesdays and some Tuesdays