Thursday, March 30, 2017

らーめんとビール (Ramen and Beer in Copenhagen, Denmark)

Mikkeller らーめんとビール

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Most beer fans have nothing but praise for Mikkeller, and I am among them. Mikkeller started in Denmark back around 2006 with a unique concept. Instead of operating a main brewery, they would outsource their recipes, with experimental brews being commonplace. They collaborate around the world, and their Tokyo bar was a place of beauty (though it closed down last year due to drama with their partners).

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When in Copenhagen, it is almost impossible to find a street without Mikkeller represented in some way or another.

One this street, for example, I passes an artisinal toast shop with a Mikkeller sign in the window before arriving at the Mikkeller ramen shop. Yes, they opened a ramen shop.

And, yes, I went to Copenhagen for a quick food vacation. I was here to visit two shops in particular, Slurp Ramen Joint and Noma. With Copenhagen being very, very cold (minus eight one day), I spent more time inside restaurants than expected. It's easy to blame gluttony on the weather.

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At first glance, this is an impressive shop. Knick knacks from old Japan cover the walls, and they even went so far as to import a real Japanese ticket machine. It's just a novelty; print your ticket, and pay at the counter.

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Shio, shoyu, and a spicy miso, plus a few seasonal bowls. With temperatures hovering around zero outside (protip: avoid Denmark in January), I went straight for the spicy miso, level two.

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And of course, a glass of their "ramen" beer, a light Belgian ale that pairs well with the food.

The ramen here was good. I would slurp this regularly if I chose Copenhagen as my home, though I would not have been happy waiting an hour for it (this was the case when the shop first opened). But on a cold Copenhagen day this was a perfect heat me up and leave me happy lunch.

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Official site here.

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Griffenfeldsgade 28, 2200 København N, Denmark

Open Sundays 12-8
Monday-Thursday 12-9
Friday and Saturday 12-11

Monday, March 27, 2017

六厘舎 (Rokurinsha at Haneda Airport)

六厘舎 羽田空港店

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It's time I finally talk about Rokurinsha. I went to the original way back in 2008, when I first started this site. Back when the shop was a gem, when tsukemen of this caliber was a relatively new thing.

It was an epic experience, and an epic bowl. After a wait of an hour or more, I sat next to a high-level gangster, shoulder-to-shoulder, as we slurped this meaty, noodly food of the gods. They operated their shop by serving the entire place at once, and seating the next group when the current group of 15 was finished. A crazy system that would only work in the rural Osaki neighborhood they were located in.

Everyone loved this shop. Japanese media and food critics raved. David Chang still mentions it to this day. Unfortunately, this is a problem. The shop was constantly having issues with neighbors. This was, after all, a residential neighborhood. I'm sure my eating neighbor, the yakuza, didn't help the matter. Rokurinsha's master sold the brand sometime a few years later, after the success of the shop at the newly opened Tokyo Ramen Street.

Since then, Rokurinsha has opened in malls and airports, with a central kitchen and system much different than the original.

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As I was flying out of Haneda, I took the chance to eat here, something I thought I would never do again.

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Get your buzzing order-ready thing, and wait about 10 minutes.

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Self service toppings and soup wari are there for your enjoyment.

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So here it is.

I feel like comparing apples and oranges. Both are good, I just really prefer apples. The Rokurinsha of yesteryear was worthy of a pilgrimage. You can still watch shows on Netflix that talk about the old shop. Watch them, and you'll be on the next flight.

The new Rokurinsha is a standard thing. If you've never had a good tonkotsugyokai tsukemen, then this is going to knock your socks off. You'll Instagram it, recommend it to friends, and feel accomplished. So the cycle continues.

My goal with Ramen Adventures, when I started the site back in 2008 (Rokurinsha was my 10th post) was to help people find something truly unique. I can't think of anything in an airport or shopping mall food court that would apply.

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Official site here.

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東京都大田区羽田空港2-6-5 羽田空港国際線旅客ターミナル
Haneda International Terminal

Open 24/7

Thursday, March 23, 2017

武蔵家 (Musashiya in Kichijoji)

武蔵家

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Musashiya, in the city of Musashi, adds that famous 家, a character meaning house, to let everyone know that they are serving ie-kei, Yokohama-style ramen. As if the smell wasn't enough.

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They are known for their shio ramen, made with あご, dried flying fish. If you thought all shio ramen was light and simple, you'd be proven wrong here.

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As with any Yokohama-style, plenty of garlic, ginger, and other condiments for you to kick up your bowl.

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And with all Yokohama-style bowls, choose your level of flavor, amount of oil, and firmness of noodles. Futsu if it is your first time. Futsu means normal.

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My friend was here with her parents, a Malaysian family, and dad said that the all-you-can-eat rice option would never work anywhere else. Families would sit down and never leave. It's only 50 yen, about 40 cents, for as many refills as you like.

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The bowl here is very normal in the realm of ie-kei. I could finish, which puts it in the top 10% for my personal taste. Not saying much, except that I'm a guy who doesn't go for these heavier soups as my bowl of choice.

Regardless, you can get a mini bowl for only 550 yen, and beautiful Inokashira Park is just a minute away. You'll find a few tourists here for those reasons, but nothing crazy like Harajuku or Akihabara, which are packed with travelers these days.

By the way, for someone looking for a bit of niceness in Tokyo, stroll east from Inokashira Park along the river. You can walk for hours, and it is a little hidden gem of an outing.

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Official site here.

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Map of 1 Chome-8-11 Kichijōji Minamichō, Musashino-shi, Tōkyō-to 180-0003
東京都武蔵野市吉祥寺南町1-8-11
Tokyo, Musashino-shi, Kichijoji Nancho 1-8-11
Closest station: Kichijoji

Open 11:00-1:30am
Sundays 11:00-12:30am

Monday, March 20, 2017

楓 (Kaede in Ogikubo)

味噌麺処 楓

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One of Tokyo's best miso ramen joints is Hanamichi, out west in Nerima. It's a heavy bowl, with a massive punch of salty miso. It should come as no surprise that when a disciple of this shop decides to become a master, he sticks with what he knows.

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Ogikubo is convenient, though this shop is a bit of a walk from the station. I used to live out here, so these are familiar streets, but it might seem like you are headed into the residential heart of nowhere as you stray farther and farther from the station.

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Even though it's out there, expect a short line. Or a long one.

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Miro or spicy miso. Your choice. And don't forget a side of seasoned quail eggs.

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The bowl is on par with Hanamichi, if not better. With the addition of a ginger paste on the top, the overall bowl is similar yet different. Similar in the cooking process, where soup is reduced with vegetables in a wok.

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Different with that new topping. The 生姜あん, a thick and flavorful ginger punch, goes so well with the miso. Other famous miso shops are known for a bit of freshly grated ginger, but this is next level. No wonder Kaede was named the rookie miso of 2016.

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Official site here.

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Map of 2 Chome-40-11 Kamiogi, Suginami-ku, Tōkyō-to 167-0043

東京都杉並区上荻2-40-11
Tokyo, Suginami-ku, Kamiogi 2-40-11
Closest station: Ogikubo

Open 11:00-15:00, 18:00-21:00
Weekends 11:00-17:00
Closed Mondays

Thursday, March 16, 2017

MENSHO in Gokokuji

MENSHO

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The latest from the Mensho group is here. After a successful shop in San Francisco, and an even more successful shop in a food court in Kawasaki, Shono-san is back in his home area, taking residency in the old Chabuya ramen shop (an amazing shop that has been closed for about 5 years now).

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The concept here, as with every Mensho shop, is a bit different. Farm to bowl, with a focus on the harmony of the five elements.

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No, not earth, wind, fire, water, and metal. Soup, tare, oil, noodles, and toppings.

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When I went soon after they opened, there were just two options on the menu. Shio ramen and stone-milled tsukemen. I went shio with an extra side of duck chashu.

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Wow, this one impresses.

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The soup and noodles are normal, if normal means snapper and scallop soup with Japanese sea salt from Oshima and Ishikawa.

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Toppings are where this one gets unique. Little scallop bites, dusted with burnt onion powder. Umami bombs. The yellow is karasumi, cured fish roe. I've only seen karasumi in expensive seafood restaurants. Definitely a first for a ramen shop.

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The duck was excellent, but you should really be ordering more of the chicken. Pressed in konbu, then cooked sous vide, this was some of the most tender, flavorful chicken I've had on any bowl of ramen in Tokyo.

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The tsukemen pulls no punches either.

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Stone ground flour. Freshly ground. This is probably your only chance to taste noodles made so fresh.

Served with two cups of broth. One is a light duck and vegetable broth. The other is a small serving of onsen water from Kagoshima. Noodles dipped in water, something I've never seen before.

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The shop is only open for lunch these days, but that will probably change. A must-hit if you want a modern, stylish bowl.

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Site here.

Map of 1 Chome-17-16 Otowa, Bunkyō-ku, Tōkyō-to 112-0013

東京都文京区音羽1-17-16
Tokyo, Bunkyo-ku, Otowa 1-17-16
Closest Station: Gokokuji

Open 11:00-15:00
Closed Tuesdays

Monday, March 13, 2017

ふぐだし潮 八代目けいすけ (Fugu Dashi Shio Keisuke)

ふぐだし潮 八代目けいすけ

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The latest from the Keisuke group comes in the form of an upscale pufferfish ramen. Yeah, this is fugu ramen.

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Fun shop that I would encourage anyone to try at least once. Every new Keisuke shop feels like a limited-time gentei bowl, and most are ones I would never slurp a second time. This fugu ramen falls in that category.

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Have you had fugu before? The flavor is almost non-existent. I've eaten my fair share of the stuff, from $300 a person VIP places to a buck a piece deep-fried street-food fugu. My favorite is the deep fried, because it tastes like it has been fried. Fugu meat, with its lack of flavor, I honestly don't get it.

I welcome anyone who can school me on the fugu world and why it is so prevalent in Japan.

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Back to the ramen. Go for the full deal (1650 yen, upper-left on the machine). You'll get the bowl, plus an extra plate of goodies.

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Lots of attention to detail here. The menma is heavily seasoned, the chashu sous vide. The egg is awesome.

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As for the soup, it is light and delicate. You'll get a slight fish flavor, nothing too intense. This bowl is what I would imagine fugu ramen should taste like.

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They have more expensive sets that include a bowl of rice to pour the soup into, but that seemed like too much food. Also, deep fried fugu, but they were sold out when I went.

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Official site here.

Map of 5 Chome-2-1 Ginza, Chūō-ku, Tōkyō-to 104-0061

東京都中央区銀座5-2-1
Tokyo, Chuo-ku, Ginza 5-2-1
Closest station: Ginza

Open 11:00-11:00