Monday, March 28, 2016

流 (Ru in Jujo)

煮干そば 流。


It's no secret that Saikoro in Nakano is one of my favorite ramen shops.


In the ramen world, my young men will work at a ramen shop for a few years before going off to open their own. This is common practice, and the bonds made while working under a ramen master are often taken full advantage of. A support network is built.


Ru uses a lot of the same niboshi that Saikoro uses, though the flavor is all their own. A bit lighter, but still with that awesome fishy punch that everyone loves.

Notice how the naturo has the little swirl in the middle? I was told recently, by none other than the owner of Saikoro, that it should face the customer and look like the の Japanese symbol. の is the possessive, meaning that it is now your bowl. Look for it next time you slurp.


Located about 30 seconds from the station, this shop puts Jujo on the ramen map.



Map of 1 Chome-13-2 Kamijūjō, Kita-ku, Tōkyō-to 114-0034

Tokyo, Kita-ku, Kitajujo 1-13-2
Closest station: Jujo

Open 11:00-20:00
Weekends 11:00-18:00
Closed Tuesdays

Thursday, March 24, 2016

ソラノイロ限定カクテルイベント (Limited Vegan Ramen and Cocktails Event)

PR Bar Tokyo


I got an invite to an interesting event. Craft cocktails and one of the most unique vegan bowls I've ever seen.


This was an event from Morimoto-san, the power behind the ramen girl's group. A bit of a talk, some bowls of ramen, and unique cocktails were the plan. Everything was revolving around Shimane Prefecture, on the other side of Japan.


Morimoto-san was followed by Russian Saito, the competitive eater. Yeah, that petite lady can crush about 10kg of food at once.


Miyazaki-san gave a talk about Shimane. Shimane is probably more remote than Hokkaido, and a lot of nice products are produced there. A lot of rice and tofu, apparently.


Yep, the ramen was an . . . interesting . . . one. It tasted like pure tofu with a seasoned, deep fried rice ball in the middle. Actually, I personally don't eat tofu, so this one was strange for me. Also, the choice to go vegan could have been skipped. Mix this one with a nice niboshi broth and you'd have something you could sell.


But this is a one-off event, so you can't really have expectations of normal. I'd actually prefer something odd for the next event of this nature.


The cocktails were as unique as the ramen.


A shiso and daikon mojito. Not bad.


Info about the PR Bar can be found here.
Satoko's blog can be found here.

Monday, March 21, 2016

ミツ星 (Mitsuboshi in Ebisu)



Mazesoba has no rules. You can top a bowl of soupless ramen noodles with anything, and no one can fault you. We've seen this taken to the extreme with junk-style ramen, so I'm rarely surprised by anything new.


Never say never. The sheer vastness of options at Mitsuboshi was a shock.


Choose from the list or make your own. Number one looks pretty good, a carbonara version with bacon, cheese, and egg, but we were here for something else.


The shop's original wagyu beef sauce, with all the trimmings.


And by trimmings, I mean fish powder, spicy crisped rice, peanuts, banana chips, seaweed powder, fried onions, and chopped green onions. Yes, I said banana chips.

You mix it up, vigorously, to not only spread those flavors, but to activate the gluten in the noodles. The sloppy mess is pure junk food, and totally tasty.


I'll let you discover the rest of the toppings on your own.


Go ahead and add some cheese and butter if you are up for it.


By the way, this was for another edition of #tokyoextra. Check it out!

Map of 1 Chome-13-2 Ebisunishi, Shibuya-ku, Tōkyō-to 150-0021

Tokyo, Shibuya-ku, Ebisu Nishi 1-13-2
Closest station: Ebisu

Open 12:00-17:00, 18:00-1:30am
Sundays 12:00-17:00

Thursday, March 17, 2016

大喜 (Taiki in Toyama)

西町大喜 西町本店


Local ramen, I love it. So when I had a few hours to kill in Toyama, I made it a point to go try the original Toyama Black bowl.


It looked to be about a 30 minute walk, but for 200 yen you can ride the city's streetcar. Just make sure you hop on the Loop Line.


The shop isn't far from Grand-Plaza Mae.


This is a one menu item shop. Go for nami, the smallest size. It was plenty.


Toyama black is defined by the ultra-dark soy sauce and black pepper. Be sure to mix it up a bit before you slurp.

Shoyu-lovers rejoice! This one is so deep, so in-your-face. The soup soaks into everything, and the flavors are extreme.


I tried another Toyama Black from Iroha before at their Ikebukuro shop, and have to say that Taiki blew it away.


Not very crowded on a Sunday afternoon, which was surprising considering the sheer number of famous people who have been here.


Unfortunately, I think Taiki is a default go-to for TV shows that are trying to do a local-flavor type of show about Toyama. Despite the general disingenuous nature of the food reviews on these shows, I can say that Taiki is worthy of a visit.


Enjoy Toyama!


Official site here.

Map of 1 Chome-1-7 Ōtaguchidōri, Toyama-shi, Toyama-ken 930-0063

Toyama-ken, Toyama-shi, Otaguchidori 1-1-7
Closest station: Toyama (or Grand Plaza-Mae)

Open 11:00-20:00
Closed Wednesdays

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

蓮華チャンス (Heavy Metal x Idols x Cosplay x Ramen)


What do you get when you cross an Australian professional wrestler with Japanese schoolgirl cosplay?

Photo used with permission from Ladybaby's official site. Official blog here.

You get Ladybeard!

And what do you get when you cross Ladybeard with the newest genre of Japanese junior idol heavy metal music?

Photo used with permission from Ladybaby's official site. Official blog here.

You get Ladybaby!

And what do you get when you cross Ladybaby with ramen?

You get the latest single from Ladybaby. Renge Chance!


Monday, March 14, 2016

麺や紡 (Tsumugu in Osaka)



You know you have been in Japan a long time when you start becoming obsessed with lists. Tsumugu is the #9 ramen shop in the whole of Japan according to the popular food ranking site Tabelog. Out of over 51,000, they are in the top ten.


The problem here is accessibility. Located in an obscure part of northern Osaka, Tsumugu is only open for lunch, and only open on weekdays.

So I did the only thing possible; caught the 6:00am bullet train from Tokyo, transferred to a local line, walked 20 minutes from the station, and waited in line. An hour before opening, there were about 20 people who probably hadn't traveled so far.


The things we do for our passions!


Well, it's a stellar bowl. Homemade noodles (of course) that match quite well witht he preservative free (of course) soup. It's a thick, creamy chicken and seafood soup here at Tsumugu. A style you see in many places, done to near perfection. The menu has two choices, light and heavy soups. Almost every customer was slurping the thicker of the two. Probably the best choice.


When I left, the line had tripled. With an expected wait of a few hours, make sure you get here early.

I spoke with a few native Osaka folks after eating here, and most of them had barely heard of this place. I wonder how it is ranked so highly, when there are many, many shops comparable to this one. One explanation is that Tabelog users love cost performance, and the 600 yen bowl at Tsumugu could be the best value for money in the country.


Map of 2 Chome-1-24 Unobe, Ibaraki-shi, Ōsaka-fu 567-0042, Japan

Osaka, Ibaraki-shi, Unobe 2-1-24
Closest station: Senrioka

Open 11:00-14:00
Closed on the weekends

Thursday, March 10, 2016

進化 (Shinka in Machida)

町田汁場 しおらーめん 進化


Shinka is hot on the scene right now, and everyone has been raving about their chicken shio ramen.


Sure, Machida is a bit far, but at least they have two shops to choose from. I never quite get why shops open a second branch a few minutes from the first, but it is quite common in Japan.


Shinka is one of the most metal ramen shops in Tokyo. Regardless of whether you put Green Day, Evanescence, and Ozzfest in the same category is a discussion for another time. We're here for the ramen!


The ramen here is good, really good. Rough cuts of chicken cover the bowl. Tender and fatty.


Everything is premium, farm-sourced chicken here. That layer of oil on the top is rendered chicken oil, and it is aromatic and wonderful.

Shinka's style is in line with the latest "trend" in ramen. Simple ramen that is elevated by amazing ingredients and knowledge.



100% homemade noodles.


Map of 3 Chome-18-17 Morino, Machida-shi, Tōkyō-to 194-0022

Tokyo, Machida-shi, Morino 3-18-17
Closest station: Machida

Open 11:00-15:00, 18:00-21:00
Sundays 11:00-17:00
Closed Monday (Tuesday is a different menu)