Thursday, July 28, 2016

Kumamoto Charity from くじら食堂 x Shibasakitei x Kikuya x Antai Noodles

くじら食堂 x Shibasakitei x Kikuya x Antai Noodles


Japan has had its share of natural disasters in recent years. The most recent was down in Kumamoto, in the southern island of Kyuushu. The 2016 series of earthquakes, which included a magnitude 7.0, have directly affected around 44,000 people in the area.


Charity drives are common in Japan, and ramen shops love to get in on the help. On a warm Saturday back in May, Kuijirashokudo teamed up with a few other spots to do a limited bowl to raise funds for Kumamoto.


Regardless of how good the bowl is, hats off to these guys.


Well, the bowl was pretty amazing. Noodles from Antai Noodles, a shop that is on my hit-list. The soup was rich shoyu.


They made a katsuo jelly that was injected into the egg for maximum umami. Topped with thick roast pork chashu.


Original review of Kujira Shokudo here.

Monday, July 25, 2016

藤しろ (Fujishiro in Sangenjaya)

麺屋 藤しろ 三軒茶屋店


Another bowl with Rina Hirata, the English-speaking AKB48 member who has been slurping some of Tokyo's great bowls with me throughout the year.


Today's shooting took us out to trendy Sangenjaya, a suburb just west of Shibuya.

This was one of the last shows we filmed. Thank you everyone who supported #TokyoExtra for nearly 40 episodes.


Fujishiro has praise from all the magazines. The chef trained at Honda, one of Tokyo's most famous ramen shops.


Tori paitan, creamy chicken soup, that is enhanced with fried beef sinew. It's a bit more rustic than your average chicken-only soup.


The aromatic drizzle of oil on top gives it a boost. Most shops with this style of creamy ramen know that a little fried garlic and onion go a long way.


Sangenjaya isn't far from Shibuya, so if you live or are staying in the area, this is a good choice for a quick bowl.


Map of 1 Chome-37-1 Sangenjaya, Setagaya-ku, Tōkyō-to 154-0024

Tokyo, Setagaya-ku, Sangenjaya 1-37-1
Closest station: Sangenjaya

Open 11:00-15:00, 18:00-22:00
Closed Tuesdays

Thursday, July 21, 2016

新福菜館 (Shinpukusaikan in Azabujuban)

新福菜館 麻布十番店


One of my favorite bowls in Kyoto is at Shinpukusaikan, just a few minutes from the main JR Kyoto Station.


Now that same dark shoyu flavor can be found in Tokyo.


I have to say that I miss that atmosphere of the original shop in Kyoto, with its long line and frantic vibe. This shop, in fashionable Azabujuban, feels very new.


The pitch-black ramen, though, is on point. One of the deepest bowls in Japan, thanks to thier secret soy sauce tare. That tare also makes it into the fried rice. I remember wishing I had eaten the famous fried rice at the original shop, and wasn't going to make the same mistake twice. Some amazing stuff.


This was, like so many of my posts lately, for a shooting with #TokyoExtra.

Thanks for watching!


Official Site Here.

Map of 1 Chome-2-5 Azabujūban, Minato-ku, Tōkyō-to 106-0045

Tokyo, Minato-ku, Azabujuban 1-2-5
Closest station: Azabujuban

Open 11:00-23:00
Sundays 11:00-17:00

Monday, July 18, 2016

Kodawari Ramen in Paris - The Noodles



Kodawari Ramen, the latest authentic ramen shop to hit Paris, has a trick up their sleeve. A trick that deserves an entire conversation of its own.

Let's take a look at Kodawari's noodles.


Of course, they are homemade. Kodawari managed to get a sleek new Yamato noodle machine for this purpose.


The basement of the shop has been turned into a hermetically sealed flour-only zone. The smell of nothing but flour and noodles is so amazing. I really wish regular customers could have a chance to take a peek.


In Japan, great flour for making great noodles is no problem. Japanese flour used to make ramen noodles tends to be higher in protein, and is often milled to a finer consistency than typical bread flours. If you've ever had an amazing noodle, you know that it is chewy and firm, and holds together in a bowl of hot soup.

Try putting a nice baguette into some hot soup. Most will fall apart in less than a minute. Part of that is due to the flour.

Kodawari needed to get their hands on some special flour.


No one in France was making specialty flour for Chinese noodles. Other shops are either importing flour or making due with the local stuff. Enter Gilles Matignon. Located in Château-Landon, about 100km south of Paris, his artisanal milling factory has been making small batches of flour for many, many years.


Gilles himself is a fourth generation miller, though the area's wheat history goes back much farther than that.


Still sitting on the old bedrock, the flour is produced in a beautiful old building. Walking around inside is both inspiring and terrifying. Everything is moving, shaking, grinding. I'm shocked by how clean it is; only finding one lone spiderweb (covered in flour) outside the never-used side door.

(image from


Gilles gave us a quick tour. Though the region is famous for their stone grinding history, the new machines are much more efficient.


Wheat is ground by multiple machines, sent down the tubes, and collected at the bottom.


I relied on JB, the owner at Kodawari Ramen to pick up the details, as my French is quite abysmal, and the whine of the machinery would have made any language hard to understand.


JB had actually approached a number of millers with his idea, and they all turned him down. To make this special flour, the miller would have to retrofit his gear with some new systems. Not much, but an ordeal none-the-less. Gilles was the only one who took up the challenge.


Here's JB with the ramen-flour-only tubes.


I had a chat with Gilles about his philosophy. He has grown up with flour, and has witnessed the rise of GMO crops and the decline of the natural ways. Modern crops contain much less nutrients, which is a huge problem in something as precise as noodles or bread. Flavor and health has given way to empty calories and high volume. He is sticking to his roots, and that is a good thing.


We made a video as well:

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Qinghai, Ramen Roots - Part 3: People

Sightseeing and food are important parts of travel, but truly memorable experiences are always enhanced by the people you meet. People of Qinghai have had little contact with Westerners, and your presence brings out their smiles and curiosity. Locals would snap shots on the sly, and when we would approach them to reciprocate, no one had a problem. Here are some of my favorite shots from the trip, with a bit of ramen thrown in.


The monk with a $3000 camera and a Rolex.


The old guy just flying a kite.


Our group was always getting asked for photos. Since we are all bloggers and YouTubers, no problem! Here Abigail from Smiling Seoul takes her hundredth photo of the day. Check out here channel for an interesting view on living in Korea.


The dinner singers. We kept chanting for one more. After about five encores they ran away.


The hat salesman.


The Tibetans. You are meant to bow 100,000 times. They each have a counter on their finger (or an app on their phone) to keep track. Takes a few months for someone in good shape.


The staff at a Mongolian-themed show.


Candy getting her slurp on. Candy is the girl behind On The List Melbourne. Check it out if you are in Melbourne and want to know everything that is going on!


Dane from The Healthy Tradie knows that even an uber-healthy diet can include some carbs from ramen.


This was my favorite ramen of the trip. On the corner of Wusi and Jianyan in Xining if you are ever out there.


Simple, Lanzhou-style beef noodle soup. I'm not sure if it is standard, but they brought out some plates of snacks; veggies and tofu flavored with spice, garlic, and vinegar.


Others on the trip that I haven't mentioned are Maria from The Art of Plating, Jasmine from My Berlin Fashion, and Megan from Mapping Megan.


The chess players.



The grandpa and child. Baby was really fascinated with my camera, so I let him press the shutter.


Baby's first shot!


The drone pilot.


Drone = instant popularity. Take note.


The curious toddler.


The curious young men. They were fascinated how we were documenting our trip.


The mullet dude. Business in the front, party in the back.


The Scott Gomez jersey dude.


The dancer.


The DJ.


The unknowing Abbey Road walkers.


The munchkins.


The fashionable one out.


The goofy performer.


I always search for the most hipster cafe in whatever town I am visiting. This time I was lucky enough to be joined by Chris John Millington, one of the guys responsible for epic beards becoming a fashion trend. Check his website, Forget Fashion.


Thanks for posing!


The barista. His cafe, which I can't find on the map, was on Switzerland Street in Qilian.


The future bad-ass.

And then, just when I had forgotten why I came, this lady came strolling by, with bags full of noodles.


Sure, thousands of years have done a lot for noodles, and I still think Japanese ramen is where my heart slurps, but seeing how ingrained noodle culture is in culture here is amazing.

Although I can't recommend any exact shops, I can give a solid tip. Look for the ? shop with a crowd, and slurp where slurping all began.