Monday, May 30, 2016

ラーメン女子博 (Ramen Girls Festival 2016)

ラーメン女子博 2016


Another year, another Ramen Girls Festival.


If you check my post from a year ago, you can see that the organizer, Satoko Morimoto, goes all out.


A lot of popular shops came, and this year was much more organized than the year before. The problems of insane, four hour lines was fixed by having more shops and more days.


What up Tsukada-san!


新旬屋 麺
Shinshuya Men from Yamagata Prefecture.


Kakua from Shinjuku, Tokyo.


中華そば すずらん
Suzuran in Ebisu, Tokyo.


Hulu-lu in Ikebukuro, Tokyo.


Hokuboshi in Tokyo.


The above "bowls" are actually ramen cakes, made custom to mimic the real ones.

Japan has more and more food festivals each year. If you go with a group, it's a fun way to sample a dozen or so bowls in one sitting.


See you next year.

Keep an eye on their site for more info.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

神座 (Kamukura in Shinjuku)

神座 新宿店


Kamukura is a popular chain hailing out of the Kansai region of Japan. And while Osaka and its surrounding prefectures have over 30 shops, there are only five in Tokyo. Though ramen adventures is weighted towards the smaller ramen shops in Japan, I feel it is my duty to tell which chains make the cut.

Kamukura's soup is quite deep, and fits to a T with the surrounding area. A little saltier, a little more in-your-face, this bowl is my kind of post-drinking ramen.


But enough about their ramen. The main reason I stepped in this day was to try their karaage, fried chicken. If you've spent any time in Japan, you'll know how popular boneless fried chicken is. As a street food at festivals, paired with a beer at an izakaya, or in this case, alongside ramen.

Kamukura's fried chicken recently won a gold medal from the Nippon Karaage Kyokai. Yes, there is an official organization for fried chicken in Japan. And, yes, they hold annual competitions to find the best of the best.


Specifically, these babies won a gold in the Central Japan Shoyu Seasoning category for their fried chicken rice bowl.

So how are they?


Well, their regular fried chicken goes great with a brew.


And the award winning rice bowl is solid by itself. I was a little surprised that it is only 390 yen. If you aren't in the mood for a whole meal, this has quick snack written all over it.



Crushed it!


Crushed it!


Official Site Here.


Map of 1 Chome-14-1 Kabukichō, Shinjuku-ku, Tōkyō-to 160-0021

Tokyo, Shinjuku-ku, Kabukicho 1-14-1
Closest station: Shinjuku

Open 24/7

Monday, May 23, 2016

おとど食堂 (Otodo Shokudo in Kasai)

おとど食堂 葛西店


Otodo. I was first introduced to this bowl during a TV shooting. They were one of the contenders at a tsukemen festival, and my ramen buddy Abram and I were at the height of our tenure with Weekly Playboy magazine. Out Ramem Americans column helped land us a a few gigs, and this was one.


Otodo went on to win a silver prize at that festival, if memory serves me. They've gone on after that to win more and more, and not just for ramen. They won prizes at a rice bowl festival and a gyoza festival to name a few.


Well, I'm back at a different branch of Otodo, this one named Otodo Shokudo. The shokudo in the name means it is more than just ramen. In fact, the menu is so big that only a digital ticket machine would do.


Noodles dishes, rice dishes, and sides. As this is Kasai, out towards rural Chiba, a shop owner can have a bigger shop and not have to worry so much about the bottom line.

Well, as this was a TV shooting, I completely forgot to take my regular photos of the ramen (link to the video is down below). I can say that it is the typical gatsuri style that Otodo is known for. Heavy on the garlic, with a triple meat soup. Chicken, pork, and beef come together not in a refined elegant way, but in an in-your-face meat explosion. Good stuff, though unless you live out in the sticks, head to the Koenji shop for convenience.


As I was checking the accolades, I notices that they had won a gold ribbon for their gyoza. I'm a fan of Japanese-style pot stickers, but I'm rarely blown away. They are either good or bad, and I've never had dumplings that I could really rave about.


Until I had these. Yes, these gyoza are noticeably better than any I've ever had. Rich and juicy, they didn't even need any of the usual soy sauce or vinegar.

The secret? The filling is enhanced with seabura, pork back fat. When they cook, the fat melts, but stays inside. You can probably imagine how they taste.


Check the video!

Official Site Here


Map of 6 Chome-15-1 Higashikasai, Edogawa-ku, Tōkyō-to 134-0084

Tokyo, Edogawa-ku, Higashikasai 6-15-1
Closest station: Kasai

Open 11:30-1:00am

Thursday, May 19, 2016

伊藤 (Ito in Ginza)

自家製麺 伊藤 銀座店


I'd been to Ito years ago, up at their main shop in Akabane. Ito serves a bowl of niboshi ramen, with amazing handmade noodles. Soup and noodles, and nothing else, is the recommended bowl.


My visit to the Akabane store was for a TV shooting, some show that aired at 4:30am on a Tuesday. A show that was seen by no one. I can usually tell if a TV show is popular by the jump in hits to this site. Tuesday morning had no visible spike.


Years later, and Ito has a few more shops around Tokyo. Today's visit to the Ito in Ginza was also for a TV taping. And . . . action!


Niboshi, dried baby sardine, is an amazing ingredient, and niboshi ramen should be tried by everyone at least once. Some people are put off by the bitter, smoky flavor, but the majority of folks fall in love at first slurp. Ito is one of the best, and though the shop has expanded into a bit of a mini-chain, they still keep the quality top-notch.

Very convenient location in the heart of Ginza.

Check out the video!


Map of 6 Chome-12-2 Ginza, Chūō-ku, Tōkyō-to 104-0061

Tokyo, Chuo-ku, Ginza 6-12-2
Closest station: Ginza

Open 11:00-23:00
Weekends 11:00-20:00

Monday, May 16, 2016

素良 (Sora in Kojimachi)



No photos. No press. No nuthin',


That is the mantra at the latest shop from Miyazaki-san, the master of Soranoiro.


This shop replaces his Salt & Mushroom establishment. The idea is for 100% of their following to be word of mouth. Fans will tell fans, and it will organically become one of Tokyo's most famous shops.

Does it have what it takes?

Absolutely. Every ingredient is premium. Miyazaki-san has been travelling the country, meeting with small-time farms, getting the best-of-the-best chicken and pork. All that hard work pays off.

Should I write more? Should I write in detail about the use of clams to increase the level of umami? Should I discuss the Aomori chicken that is some of the most tender I've tasted? Should I nerd out about the pork, specifically sourced from a farm near the Seto Inland Sea?

You should just go for yourself. This is some next level gourmet ramen. Lunch only. No photos. Enjoy.


Map of 3 Chome-4-3 Kōjimachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tōkyō-to 102-0083

Tokyo, Chioda-ku, Kojimachi 3-4-3
Closest station: Kojimachi

Open 12:00-15:00
Closed Sunday and Monday

Thursday, May 12, 2016

凪 (Nagi in Omiya)


The Nagi we all know and love has expanded with voracity over the past few years.


One of their latest shops is just outside massive Omiya Station, up in Saitama. Omiya is a major transit point, and business is booming.


In case you can't decipher all that Japanese on the storefront, I'll explain. This shop is using an automated iPad ordering system, and delivering your ramen via an air cushion.


I think my explanation makes perfect sense, but I'll break it down.


Get a QR code when you order.


Snap a shot.


Take some selphies.


Wait for the air-cushion-ramen-retrieval system to activate.


And here it is!

Kind of silly, kind of pointless. There were enough staff on hand to make this system unnecessary, but where is the fun in that?

The ramen is typical Nagi. You can get the niboshi or the tonkotsu. Both are fine, though I'm sure I'll never come back here. Everyone should go to their Golden Gai location.


Official site here.

Map of 1 Chome-24 Daimonchō, Ōmiya-ku, Saitama-shi, Saitama-ken 330-0846

Saitama-ken, Saitama-shi, Omiya-ku, Daimoncho 1-24-1
Closest station: Omiya

Open 24/7/365