Thursday, January 29, 2015

Narumi Ippudo at the Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum

Narumi Ippudo


Most everyone knows Ippudo. The small chain of shops in Japan exploded internationally in cities like New York and Singapore. It isn't a huge surprise, the ramen at Ippudo is great. So great that it has spun off some off-brand shops like an Ippudo miso shop and some Ippudo express shops at shopping malls around the country.


But when I heard about Ippudo opening a French inspired shop, I was baffled. What gives?


Well, this was all a result of an event in France in 2014; Paris Ramen Week. Paris Ramen Week brought some of Japan's top ramen chefs out for a week of popups, seminars, and general food fun. Some of the chefs were inspired by their venture into the foreign food scene, and ideas were born. One that comes to mind is Soranoiro, who brought back the idea of putting a vegan ramen on his menu.

This is where Ippudo comes in.


As an homage to their trip to France, Ippudo created a French-Japanese fusion bowl. The dashi is a blend of French beef consomme and traditional Japanese broth. The noodles are half Japanese flour and half French bread flour. The toppings are roast beef, red onion, and sauteed mushrooms.

Sounds good on paper, and it sure looks tasty.


Camera rolling, this was the first YouTube video I've made without testing it beforehand.

Luckily, it was excellent. I think the key were the noodles. By using some French bread flour, you almost get a sense of dipping a crusty baguette into a lovely consomme. Really interesting. I don't know how a stand-alone shop of this nature would fare, but in the Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum, it is a perfect fit.


Two other menu items are worth a note. First is the vegetarian ramen. This one works, using extra mushrooms to make up for the lack of beefy umami present in the regular bowl. As always, I enjoyed the meat version more, but this was a pleasant surprise. Not too sweet, which is a problem with vegetarian soups I've found.


There is also a French-inspired ochazuke. Rice, topped with roast beef, and drowned in consomme. Good, but you'll probably want to save room for another couple shops. This is the Raumen Museum after all!


Like every other shop at the museum, you can order mini bowls. You should plan your visit accordingly. I'd say start with a taste of something light, like Narumi Ippudo, then move to something a little heavier like Komurasaki or Nidai-me Genkotsu-ya, and finish with a thick one like Sumire or Ryu Shanghai. A full list of shops can be found here.


Check out the YouTube video!

If you enjoy this, or any of my YouTube videos, please subscribe and tell a friend. I'm spread a little thin with all the various ramen media projects I am in involved in, and would like to focus a bit more in 2015. Thanks for watching!


神奈川県横浜市港北区新横浜2-14-21 新横浜ラーメン博物館内
The Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum
Closest station: Shin-Yokohama

Open 11am-10pm

Monday, January 26, 2015

ろく月 (Rokutsuki in Asakusa)



Rokutsuki was awarded the coveted tonkotsu rookie of the year award for 2014. Not a bad way to start your shop!


East Tokyo has always been in the shadow of the west in terms of ramen, so it is good to see a newcomer making a quality bowl.


The ingredients are strictly mukacho, preservative free.


This one almost felt more like a toripaitan, a creamy chicken soup ramen, than a tonkotsu, pork soup. The stinky traces of pork bones were non-existent, and the toppings, though uncommon for this kind of ramen, were fresh and tasty. Worthy of their praise.


Come in the evening and you can try some of their limited offerings. Miso-tonkotsu and a mazesoba were both on offer, and both were on point. Overall, I enjoyed the regular tonkotsu more, but the roasted tomato was a great touch.


Close to the new Tokyo Sky Tree and the temples of Asakusa.



Tokyo, Taito-ku, Asakusabashi 2-4-5
Closest staiton: Asakusa-Bashi

Open 11:30-14:00, 18:00-22:00
Closed Sundays

Thursday, January 22, 2015

rabo in Nishi-Shinjuku



Anaya, a heavy bowl just a few minutes south of my apartment recently opened a spinoff shop a few minutes north of my apartment. Convenient!


This bowl of ramen, in a shop down a little alley, will most likely be missed by most due to the location, but shouldn't be. Simple and unassuming, it is a great blend of chicken, pork, and niboshi.

A simple review for a simple shop. If you are in the area, pop on in for a slurp.


Tokyo, Shibuya-ku, Honmachi 4-13-10
Closest station: Nishi-Shinjuku-Gochome

Open 11:30-15:00, 17:30-22:00
Closed Sundays

Monday, January 19, 2015

うさぎ食堂 (Usagi Shokudo in Naka-Meguro)



Toripaitan, ramen that is made with a creamy chicken soup, is nothing new. But in recent years, a few stand out shops like Kagari and Ushio bring things to a higher level. Mega-rich soup with fresh toppings that put regular ramen to shame.


This one was recommended by the barbecue master at Hatos Bar, a nearby smokehouse barbecue spot that meat lovers need to know about. Don't tell anyone, but Sou-san, the master, prefers a good bowl of ramen over perfectly cooked ribs. Food is funny that way.


The menu is only a couple items; torishiroramen and bejitanmen. Both use the same soup, but differ in noodles and toppings.


The veggie version was hard to pass up. Chicken chashu, duck chashu, garlic toast, and a heap of colorful vegetables. 1500 yen is spendy, but not really that much for good food in the Naka-Meguro area.


If you are out here for the famous cherry blossoms that line the river during March and April, Usagi Shokudo is a good bet for a quick bite.

Followed, of course, by some barbecue and craft beer at Hatos Bar!


Tokyo, Meguro-ku, Aobadai 1-30-12
Closest station: Naka-Meguro

Open 11:30-22:00
Closed Mondays

Thursday, January 15, 2015

AFURI in Nakameguro



It had been years since a visit to famed AFURI. Since the original shop in Ebisu paved the way for more oshare - stylish - ramen shops, AFURI has opened half a dozen more shops in the Tokyo area.

Do they still hold up?


Unfortunately, I feel that they have lost a lot in the expansion. This shop in Nakameguro, though stylish, lacked deep flavors and had no tasty impact. They were lauded as having the best light tasting ramen in town, but now it is just too light.


I should note that I tried their winter limited bowl, a miso with smoked meats and ginko nuts.


My friend, the writer of a new ramen blog on the scene, had their normal bowl. Lackluster.

Do check out his site, Philoramen:


Tokyo, Meguro-ku, Kamimeguro 1-23-1
Closest station: Nakameguro

Open 11:00-5:00am

Monday, January 12, 2015

裏不如帰の台湾極にぼ (Taiwan Niboshi Ramen at Ura Hototogisu in Hatagaya)

一汁三煮干 裏不如帰


Insanely amazing Hototogisu changes gears on Thursdays and becomes Ura-Hototogisu. Hidden-Hototogisu. Niboshi heavy soup one day a week.


They also have a limited to 10-a-day Taiwan-niboshi ramen. Spicy nira and an intesne ground pork mix.

I still prefer their normal menu on Thursdays, but go for this one if you have already been and are looking to spice things up.


Make sure you get there about ten minutes before they open, or be subject to a long line.


Another review I did a while back is here.

Tokyo, Shibuya-ku, Hatagaya 2-47-12
Closest station: Hatagaya

Open 11:30-15:00 on Thursdays

Thursday, January 8, 2015

一蘭 (Ichiran in Fukuoka)



Pilgrimage time. Yes, I'm no fan of the Ichiran chain, the Kyushu beast that has shops all across the country. The taste is heavy on the sweet and low on the porky goodness level that, say, somewhere like Ippudo has. But as far as chains go, you can't beat them for convenience. Wow, I feel sick saying that.

But the original shop in Fukuoka was unique bowls, so I wanted to try it. Yes, that is pretty much the only reason.

To the honten (main shop)!


But . . . they don't have the famous rectangular bowls. Yes, I'm being petty here. But this will probably be my last time slurping Ichiran, so I need to make it count. Turns out the first floor of the honten doesn't even serve ramen! Have some original Ichiran dumplings, instead.


After some conversation with a very young staff member, we found that it was actually the Nishidori shop that does the special bowls. A five minute walk away.


That's more like it!


Of course, one of the perks of Ichiran is the customization. I always say that this is so when you get your lackluster bowl, the blame is on you, the customer, for choosing the wrong combination. In the past, I had gone for normal levels. I've since learned. Once again, though, not the greatest bowl in Japan.

From top to bottom - amount of tare seasoning, thickness of the soup, amount of garlic, type of negi onion, pork yes or no, amount of spice, and firmness of the noodles. They probably have an English version.


As always, sit down in your private cubicle.


And await your bowl.


My mistake this time was choosing こい味, a strong amount of tare seasoning liquid. The tare here is the biggest problem. So sweet! The choice of double spice neutralized this a bit.


Still crushed it though.


Official Site Here

Fukuoka-ken, Fukuoka-shi, Chuo-ku, Daimyo 2-1-57
Closest station: Tenjin

Open 10:00am-7:00am
No holidays.