Monday, May 29, 2017

鶏喰~TRICK~ (TRICK in Yokohama)

鶏喰~TRICK~

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Trick is on of the area's highest ranked shops, with good reason. Their bowl of tokusei chicken shoyu ramen is kind of amazing.

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Considered to be the best in Kanagawa by many (#8 in Japan here). The shop isn't too far from central Yokohama, so a ramen hunter in the area doesn't have far to go.

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Master Nishikaki-san (西垣さん) spent the early years of his culinary life in Italian cooking. So why didn't he open his own Italian place? One of the reasons is that he likes the hospitality aspect of ramen shops. Customers sit at the counter, watching the chef. It's a kind of direct interaction that you don't get anywhere else.

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Special shingen (信玄鶏) chickens from Yamanashi for the soup and toppings. While the soup is a simple chicken stock, the tare seasoning is quite complex. Somewhere between three and five soy sauces are blended and cooked with dried fish, shrimp, and seaweed.

It's an amazing base for the plethora of tasty toppings that you'll get with the special bowl.

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Low temperature cooked pork chashu as well as chicken breast, thigh, and meatball.

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Everything is top notch.

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The egg is, of course, as close to perfect as you can get. The wonton is just an added bonus.

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Always a line, and if the spot wasn't all the way down in southern Yokohama, I'd be there more often. A quick glance online and it looks like they make a few limited bowls, like a thicker paitan soup or some spicy styles.

This one will make my best-of-2017 list easily.

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Map of 4 Chome-20 Yoshinochō, Minami-ku, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa-ken 232-0014

神奈川県横浜市南区吉野町4-20
Kanagawa-ken, Yokohama-shi, Minami-ku, Yoshinocho 4-20
Closest station: Yoshinocho

Open 11:00-14:00, 18:00-21:00
Weekends 11:00-15:00
Closed Mondays

Thursday, May 25, 2017

味楽 (Miraku at the Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum)

利尻らーめん 味楽 新横浜ラーメン博物館店

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I'm often invited to the press opening events at the Shin Yokohama Raumen Museum. The visiting shops are all interesting, but this one in particular had me excited.

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Years ago, I visited Rishiri Island, just about the farthest north you can go in Japan. While there, I tried a ramen shop, was massively disappointed, and figured that the island's famous konbu seaweed had no effect on the local eats. I few weeks later, the director of the museum told me about a ramen shop on the other side of the island, a shop that was rich and full of local umami. I completely missed out, and Rishiri isn't the kind of place you visit often.

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Years later, and they (the good shop) are popping up shop in Yokohama. Now's my chance!

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You know your island is obscure when your business card has to explain where it is.

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Well, most foodies know about Rishiri, and chefs from around the world love this konbu in particular.

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Quite an impact in this bowl. A bowl of 焼き醤油らーめん - fried soy sauce ramen.

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While most ramen simply ladles in a spoonfull of soy sauce tare seasoning, Miraku fries it up in a wok. This gives it a stronger, almost burnt flavor. Add this initial impact to the mellow umami from the Rishi seaweed and you've got a solid bowl.

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After meeting the super nice elderly shop staff, I might just have to make a trip back north. One of these days.

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Very easy to crush this one.

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They will be at the museum for the near future, maybe a year and a half or so.

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Museum site here.

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Map of 2 Chome-14-21 Shinyokohama, Kōhoku-ku, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa-ken 222-0033

神奈川県横浜市港北区新横浜2-14-21 新横浜ラーメン博物館店
Kanagawa-ken, Yokohama-shi, Minatokita-ku, Shinyokohama 2-14-21
Closest station: Shin-Yokohama

Open 11:00-23:00
Weekends 10:30-23:00

Monday, May 22, 2017

劔 (Tsurugi in Takadanobaba)

焼麺 劔

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Wow!

I rarely eat a bowl with the wow factor anymore, but the above was definitely something new.

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Billed as 焼麺, yakimen, this bowl uses noodles that have been fried on the teppan grill. Add to that a slice of chashu that looks more like bacon, and a fried egg, and you've go what I call breakfast ramen.

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As with any unique ramen, there is an instruction sheet telling the customer how to eat it. Even though I tried, this one was a challenge. The noodles are all fried together, and my chopstick skills aren't high enough to easily cut the mass.

If I were to go back, I might get the non-fried version with regular noodles.

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Despite the challenge of how to eat, this bowl was awesome. The soup is concentrated and thick.

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Fresh ground katsuo flakes add another layer of smokiness to the bowl.

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They've been visited by celebrities. Actually, this was for research on my part for an upcoming TV show about ramen in the area. Tsurugi was given the bronze out of 60 shops. Not bad.

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Map of 2 Chome-6-10 Takadanobaba, Shinjuku-ku, Tōkyō-to 169-0075

東京都新宿区高田馬場2-6-10
Tokyo, Shinjuku-ku, Takadanobaba 2-6-10
Closest station: Takadanobaba

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

Thursday, May 18, 2017

匠堂 (Takumido in Sagamihara)

麺屋 匠堂

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This spot, way out in Sagamihara, was on my ever-growing list of shops to try. I can't remember who told me about it though. A ramen nerd acquaintance? A drinking buddy? A random dude on the street? Either way, I always mark recommendations, no matter how obscure, and hit them up if I'm in the area.

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Well, I was in the area with some friends (you'll need a car for this one) and we popped in.

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Recommendations, おすすめ, are:
  1. Special shio ramen.
  2. Tsukemen with extra green onion and pork.
  3. Spicy mazesoba with cheese.
I'll go for No. 3!

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A big bowl of junk food. Mix it up and go to town.

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Well, I don't think it was a ramen nerd who recommended this one. Very oily, with a handful of store-bought processed cheese thrown on top.

The rest of the menu (we tried a few bowls) was mediocre as well.

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In reality, this is a typical local shop, where families can come for a meal. The atmosphere was comfortable, and there are a few side menu items to satisfy the kids while mom and dad have a beer.

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Map of 7 Chome-8-15 Hashimoto, Midori-ku, Sagamihara-shi, Kanagawa-ken 252-0143

神奈川県相模原市緑区橋本7-8-16
Kanagawa-ken, Sagamihara-shi, Midori-ku, Hashimoto 7-8-16
Closest station: Hashimoto

Open 11:30-15:00, 18:00-22:00
Closed Mondays

Monday, May 15, 2017

貝ガラ屋 (Kaigaraya in Fuchinobe)

貝だしラーメン 貝ガラ屋

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I was at the RaJuku ramen school with the master from Kodawari Ramen in Paris. He was here for a week-long crash course, and I was there for a couple days to help translate. What did we do after six hours of ramen testing? Get more ramen of course.

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Kaigaraya let's you know exactly what goes into their bowl; oysters.

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It's strange, but for me oyster ramen seems like a recent trend, despite places like Kaigaraya being open since 2014. Oyster ramen is quite an intense taste, not something I could see finding a huge following.

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Despite the strong flavors going on, I am into this one.

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A creamy, paitan style soup with the basic toppings. Very simple apart from the complex soup.

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The tsukemen comes with a side of oyster paste for an extra kick. I prefer the normal カキソバ, but some people might go for the extra volume that tsukemen offers.

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Kind of out there in terms of accessibility, but if, for some reason, you are out here, you might want to pop in. Fortunately, it is in the area of the RaJuku ramen school. Unfortunately, you'll be stuffed after the class.

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Map of 3 Chome-24-3 Fuchinobehonchō, Chūō-ku, Sagamihara-shi, Kanagawa-ken 252-0202

神奈川県相模原市中央区淵野辺本町3-24-3
Kanagawa-ken, Sagamihara-shi, Chuo-ku, Fuchinobehonmachi 3-24-3
Closest station: Fuchinobe

Open 11:30-15:00, 18:00-21:00
Closed Mondays

Thursday, May 11, 2017

ミライゑ (Miraie in Akabane)

noodle kitchen ミライゑ

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I finally made it!



I've met Nishimaki-san, both husband and wife, many times at ramen festivals and events. They run Miraie, a popular shop up in Akabane.

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Well, I made it, and I even made a video about it. This is one of the first videos I've filmed and edited all on my own. Please let me know what you think.

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There are a few options on the menu. The staff actually wanted me to try the Tokyo shoyu ramen, an all-natural soy based bowl, but I had my eyes on the mazesoba, a soupless dish topped with stewed beef.

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Gyu nikomi mazesoba. Stewed beef mix-em-up noodles.

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It did not disappoint. The beef is stewed in wine, craft soy sauce, and spices. It's all kinds of decadent. It comes out looking very sharp in that triangular bowl.

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Make it messy. Remember, with mazesoba, mix it vigorously for about a minute. Don't stir, mix. The gluten in the noodles is activated by your efforts.

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Cabernet from Chile.

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Shoyu from Chiba.

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Slowly stewed until it is chopstick tender.

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A lot of people who watched the video put this on their hit lists, and I don't blame them.

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Official site here.

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Map of 2 Chome-59-20 Shimo, Kita-ku, Tōkyō-to 115-0042

東京都北区志茂2-59-20
Tokyo, Kita-ku, Shimo 2-59-20
Closest station: Akabane

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