Monday, November 30, 2015

きしもと食堂 (Kishimoto Shokudo in Okinawa)



With only one free day in Okinawa, I had to make the most of it. Now, if my life was only about the ramen, I probably would have stayed in Naha, slurping at the spots that people had recommended. I had a list of a few of those.

But the empty, ocean-side roads and promise of Okinawa's more local noodle dish were all I could think about. Motobu is a city just about an hour from Naha, and is considered the home of sokisoba. Sokisoba is a simple dish; udon-like noodles in a very light dashi soup, topped with soki (stewed pork spareribs), sanmainiku (stewed pork belly), and kamaboko (fish cake).


Kishimoto and Yanbaru are the two shops that seem to get the most exposure. Lucky for me, both shops serve small size bowls, and both shops are a five minute drive from each other.

Wake up, eat two bowls of sokisoba, then spend the rest of the day riding around on a fast motorcycle. Did I mention that Okinawa was a lovely 29 degrees C, while Tokyo was around 15?


500 yen is a steal! Be warned that the small bowls are more like a normal bowl, and the normal bowls are massive.


To be honest, I'm not big on these type of noodles. They are more of an udon style, and they lack the bite and ability to soak up soup that ramen noodles often have. But those toppings! Fatty pieces of stewed pork and some simple fish cakes. For me, and everyone I know, this is the real allure of Okinawan soba. Of course, you can get stewed pork belly at most Okinawan restaurants, but I really like that the light soup cuts the sweetness of the meat.


If you find yourself in Motobu (it's where the famous aquarium is), do yourself a favor and check out some soki, you won't regret it.


And go in November! I stopped on my way back to Naha to watch the sun set from a fancy resort, and I was the only person on the beach.


I should also not that this one isn't the honten. The original shop is just a few blocks away, but I was confused!


Map of 350-1 Inoha, Motobu-chō, Kunigami-gun, Okinawa-ken 905-0228

Okinawa-ken, Kunigami-gun, Motobo-cho, Inoha 350-1
Closest station: None

Open 11:00-19:00

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Ramen Riders! Donate to our Charity Toy Run

2015 Tokyo Toy Run!


Every year, my motorcycle friends, many of whom join the Ramen Riders adventures, team up to do a bit of charity. Toy Runs happen all around the world, and we are happy to be doing one in Tokyo. A Toy Run is a bunch of motorcycle riders collecting toys and donations, dressing as Santas (bad-ass motorcycle riding Santas!), and driving to an orphanage to deliver the goods. We spend the day with the kids, playing games and eating pizza, and they get a ton of awesome gifts. How cool is that!


We've been doing the Tokyo Toy Run since 2009, and the group has gotten very large. We've had close to a hundred bikes at times. A hundred bikes covered with presents, rolling down the highway, is a sight to see.


Here was my donation from a few years back.


Loaded up on the bike and ready to go!


Our event has become larger and larger every year, and Ramen Adventures has become larger and larger every year. I'm hoping to capitalize on the generosity of my amazing readers (that's YOU!), so I'm making a call for donations.

I've already received a few donations, and every yen is going into toys for this event.

If you would like to donate, please do so via PayPal to my address, Yen or dollars, whichever you prefer.


We will most likely head to ramen after the event, and while I can't post photos of the children, I hope to have a report about a tasty bowl.

If you live in Japan and want to join, please check out the Facebook page here:

Happy Holidays everyone! Here are some bowls from upcoming posts for you to drool over.





Monday, November 23, 2015

Stripe Noodle in Okinawa

Stripe Noodle


With work in Okinawa, the logical choice was to fly down a few days early, rent a motorcycle, and slurp some noodles. Ramen Riders!


The Kawasaki Z800 is smooth, fast, and uncomfortable. You've been warned.


But while my choice of motorcycles didn't end up being to my taste, my choice in ramen was spot on. Stripe Noodle has been on my radar ever since ramen superstar Miyazaki-san from Soranoiro helped open it. Beef ramen topped with a steak. It might sound strange, but when you realize that the shop is right next to a US military base, you can see the appeal.


A fantastic bowl. Despite the unusual topping, all the parts are there; great noodles and an umami-rich soup.


There are quite a number of ramen shops in Naha, the main city on Okinawa island. But with my bike, I had other plans. Plans to head north in search of sokisoba, Okinawa's own noodle dish.


But for those who dare not venture into the unknown, Stripe is a must-try in Okinawa.

And don't worry. No Japanese language skills? No problem!


Official site here.


Map of 100 Kuwae, Chatan-chō, Nakagami-gun, Okinawa-ken 904-0103

Okinawa-ken, Nakagami-gun, Chantan-cho, Kuwae 100
Closest station: None

Open 11:00-15:00, 17:00-22:00

Thursday, November 19, 2015

らーめん大 (Ramen Dai in Sumida)


東京 EXTRA episode.4【RAMEN 道】.mp4_snapshot_01.18_[2015.11.10_11.23.19].jpg

Ramen Dai is a chain of Jiro-kei shops that I would probably never have gone to. I tend to avoid chains, and I tend to avoid Jiro-kei. But today was special.

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Ramen 道 is a weekly TV spot I'm part of. Each week, I'm joined by a member of AKB48 on my ramen road. It's goofy fun, airing live on TBS in Japan at about 1am on Sunday, but also broadcast live on YouTube. The show is called Tokyo Extra. Check it out if you can! #tokyoextra

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Hamming it up with Rena Nozawa this time.

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One aspect of Jiro-kei shops is the free vegetable topping. I say vegetable, but in all but a few cases it is just bean sprouts and a couple pieces of cabbage. Once I think I saw a sliver of carrot. You can order a veritable mountain of the stuff.

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What did I tell you, a mountain. This is actually the Tower Size bowl. This shop is near Tokyo Sky Tree, the 634 meter tall expression of man's greatness that is next door to the ramen shop. So it makes sense that they would capitalize on this with a massive bowl.

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Here's a rare glimpse of a bowl without the vegetables. Heavy noodles and a heavy soup. See all that fat in there? It tastes amazing at first, but Jiro-kei can be a rough endeavor. If you want to give this style a try, I'd say check the main Jiro shop in Mita, or go to my favorite Senrigan.

Check out the video here. Please comment and subscribe if you like it. If the TV network sees interest, we may get to film more episodes.

Official site here.

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Map of 1 Chome-13-5 Narihira, Sumida-ku, Tōkyō-to 130-0002

東京都墨田区業平 1-13-5
Tokyo, Sumida-ku, Narihira 1-13-5
Closest station: Oshiage

Open 11:30-1:00am

Monday, November 16, 2015

イチカワ (Ichikawa in Tsukuba)

煮干中華ソバ イチカワ


The weather for late October was surprisingly warm and clear. The perfect riding weather. I put out a quick call for a ramen ride, but with short notice no one had the time. A solo ride out to Tsukuba was no problem, especially for the bowl at Ichikawa.


The line at 11am, 30 minutes before the shop opens, was almost 40 deep. What is even more impressive is that Ichikawa only serves 80 bowls a day before they close.


This is what they came for. One of the most sought after bowls of niboshi ramen in Japan. The master wore a shirt proclaiming the addictive quality of niboshi, and I agree. Soups made with copious amounts of dried sardines have an almost drug-like umami effect.


If you don't absolutely love these flavors, you might want to reconsider. Even the vinegar is spiked with the good stuff.


And the egg. I watched as the only other employee - I'm assuming it was the master's wife - used a syringe to inject the shop's tare seasoning liquid directly into the yolk before serving.


Wow. I used to say that high quality eggs were hard to give any sort of ranking to. Good was good. But now I have a number one.


Tsukuba isn't considered much of a rider's hangout. Regardless, the ride over the mountain was nice, and a quick dip into a local onsen hot spring was a necessity.


By the way, for those who are concerned about the line. In line at 11am, the shop opened at 11:30, sat down at around 12:30, and was out the door just before 1pm. Good luck.


Official blog here.


Map of 2 Chome-9-2 Amakubo, Tsukuba-shi, Ibaraki-ken 305-0005

Ibaraki-ken, Tsukuba-shi, Amakubo 2-9-2
Closest station: Tsukuba

Open 11:30 until they run out
Closed Sundays

Thursday, November 12, 2015

塩つけ麺 灯花 (Toka in Yotsuya)

塩つけ麺 灯花


Toka came highly recommended by some of my ramen hunter friends, and I can see why. This is one of those only-in-Japan shops, with only five counter seats in a shop that probably should have only been for four. The one ramen master works at his own pace, making sure each bowl is on point.


The menu is shio tsukemen and shio ramen, though everyone goes for the tsukemen here.


A mix of nine different salts, from France, Italy, Mongolia, Okinawa, Hiroshima, and Koichi.




If you only have one bowl of shio tsukemen, make this one it. They are open late into the evening in an interesting part of town. Yotsuya Sanchome if full of hidden gems; bars and restaurants that no guidebooks seem to cover.


It turned out, though, that my friends had actually recommended Toka's new shop, located just around the corner. Their second brand is an all tai ramen. A 100% fish soup from these guys is probably going to be amazing as well. Stay tuned.

By the way, I should mention that the line here moves incredibly slow. There were two guys in front of me, and I waited at least 30 minutes. Worth it for me, but maybe not for you.


Map of 8 Arakichō, Shinjuku-ku, Tōkyō-to 160-0007

Tokyo, Shinjuku-ku, Arakicho 8
Closest station: Yotsuyasanchome

Open 18:00-3:00am
Closed Sundays