Thursday, June 29, 2017

misato in Okubo



Seabura is a thing of beauty. This style of ramen, sometimes called seabura chatcha (back-fat-sprinkled) was a direct result of customers in Tokyo's red light district requesting more and more hunks of silky smooth fat in their bowls. This was a long time ago, in the 1960s, and since then many shops have followed suit.


misato isn't far from said red light district.


Although shoyu is presented in the upper left, go for the shio next to it. You want to savor all the seabura, right?


Actually, you can choose your level.

Noodle firmness? Katame (hard).
Flavor strength? Futsu (regular).
Seabura amount? Ome (extra).


Large pieces of simmered back fat are shaken through a strainer to break them up.


Some people think of pork fat as tough, inedible bits, but this stuff is practically liquid.


Maybe don't crush the bowl if your body isn't accustomed to this sort of soup.


Cool location in what looks like the ground floor of a government housing complex.


Map of 2 Chome-33 Toyama, Shinjuku-ku, Tōkyō-to 162-0052

Tokyo, Shinjuku-ku, Toyama 2-33
3 minute walk from Higashi-Shinjuku Station

Open 11:30-20:30
Closed Sundays

Monday, June 26, 2017

やまぐちの3種の地鶏と猪のかけラーメン (Limited Chicken and Boar Ramen at Yamaguchi)



I shy away from posting too many gentei, limited release, bowls of ramen. They happen all the time, with famous shops often doing seasonal variations, special bowls for anniversaries, and, in this case, a bowl built for TV.


This show in particular was of interest to me. The name is 激戦区!頂上めしGP, which is a kind of local food battle program. This time the food was ramen and the place was Takadanobaba.


Spoilers; Yamaguchi got the top spot.

I'm a huge fan of Yamaguchi, and would put it at my number 1 for the area as well. This was from a list of 60 or so shops in about a three mile radius. That's a lot of ramen!


Why was I interested in this show in particular? I was on it!

Four ramen commentators were interviewed about the top eight shops, with special emphasis on the top two. Above is Layla, a famous female ramen critic. Below is Maejima-san, the guy behind the Setagaya ramen group.

Where am I? I was only on air for about six seconds. Yeah, a full day shoot for six seconds. That's par for the course though, when it comes to the type of media work I do.


Yamaguchi won the general ranking, but the show took things a step further. The top two shops had to create a custom, one-off bowl that would wow the judges. This is what Yamaguchi created.


Just soup and noodles. No toppings.


But that soup is something extraordinary. Made with three kinds of chickens and wild boar. This one was deep and meaty. The gamy aspects of both the chicken and boar were offset by the craft soy sauce used.


Yamaguchi's simple looking ramen was pitted against Watanabe's creation; truffle ramen. Fresh truffles were used to make the broth, as well as making an appearance as a topping.




The truffles came out on top.


I tried to sample the truffle one as well, but the fact that I waited an hour before opening for Yamaguchi was a pretty clear sign that I wouldn't be slurping both. These bowls were limited to just 50 a day.


You should go to Yamaguchi, even though this limited bowl is long gone. My original post about this amazing shop is here. I wouldn't be surprised if they are awarded a Michelin star next year.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

みつヰ (Mitsui in Asakusa)

麺 みつヰ


Mitsui is located down a small, quiet alley in otherwise crowded Asakusa. Asakusa has, with the massive increase of tourism in Japan, become a bit crazy. New hotels, both corporate and boutique, provide hundreds more beds a night in this famous part of town on Tokyo's east side.

I'm a west side guy, so I don't make it out too often, but every time seems to be crazier.

I hate sending people to ramen shops that have a huge line of foreigners and English menus, so finding Mitsui was a blessing.


The shop serves Kitakata-style ramen, made famous in Tokyo at Shichisai. In fact, this shop has a direct connection to them, with the hand-massaged noodles being a big point.


Shio or shoyu. Both are light and refreshing.


The noodles are pressed by hand before boiling, and have a chewier texture than ones that weren't given the five-star treatment.

Everyone who visits Japan should try this style, it's often an eye-opening meal. Simple ingredients with deep flavor. I can't think of many shops as close to the tourism center of Tokyo that bring this level of slurp.


Official site here.


Map of 2 Chome-10-4 Nishiasakusa, Taitō-ku, Tōkyō-to 111-0035

Tokyo, Taito-ku, Nishiasakusa 2-10-4
10 minute walk from Asakusa Station

Open 11:00-14:30, 17:30-21:00
Weekends 11:00-16:00
Closed Mondays

Monday, June 19, 2017

らーめん 改 (Kai in Kuramae)

らーめん 改


There are many mini trends in the Tokyo ramen world, and this year one of those is clams. Sure, long-standing favorites Hototogisu and Mugitooribu have incorporated a clam broth into their soup, and newer Sora as well, but there are more.

Clams give a wonderful umami aftertaste, and whether you go full on shellfish, or just use it as an accent, this is a trend I am behind.


Kai serves a few bowls, but the one that put the new shop on the map is their clam salt ramen - 貝塩らーめん.


The master takes Japanese little neck clams (アサリ) as a base, and adds mussels (ムール貝) and scallops (ホタテ) as an accent. This triple shellfish broth is enough to send anyone with an allergy straight to the emergency room.


Topped with simple, legit toppings, Kai is one to watch.


I noticed on the side of the ticket machine, they have many, many limited bowls. Clam Chowder Ramen? Yes, please!


This was for one of my ramen tours, and everyone came away a winner.


For those who follow my site, be aware that this is a new shop that hasn't blown up yet, so the line is only set to get longer. Enjoy.


Map of 4 Chome-20-10 Kuramae, Taitō-ku, Tōkyō-to 111-0051

Tokyo, Taito-ku, Kuramae 4-20-12
5 minute walk from Kuramae Station

Open 11:00-15:00, 17:30-21:00
Closed Mondays

Thursday, June 15, 2017

進化 (Shinka in Machida)

町田汁場 しおらーめん進化 町田駅前店


Shinka is one of Machida's most revered shops. But, for some reason, when they opened a second shop, they did so only about one kilometer away. Hunh?


Well, this newer one is technically closer to the station, so I guess that is cool.


Same great chicken ramen flavored with a Japanese salt blend. Very high quality.

Shinka is very popular among ramen chefs. If you want to know where ramen chefs eat ramen, Shinka is on that list.


Upon further inspection, they have a 淡口醤油 - light soy sauce ramen - that is only at this branch. I may have to come back for that some day, even though this is one of Tokyo's best shio bowls.


Expect a short line up the stairs to the second floor shop.


Map of 1 Chome-12-13 Morino, Machida-shi, Tōkyō-to 194-0022

Tokyo, Machida-shi, Morino 1-12-13
Closest station: Machida

Open 11:00-15:00, 17:30-22:00

Monday, June 12, 2017

おやじ (Oyaji in Sagamihara)

ラーメンおやじ 本店


Oyaji in Machida is one of the best miso ramen shops in town. But, actually, the Machida branch is just that, a branch. I finally, about six years later, made it to their main shop.


The menu has a few options, but you should go for the おやじ麺 - oyajimen - on your first time.  Or go spicy. Or special if you want all the toppings.


As with most ramen shops, the upper left button on the ticket machine is the winner.


So good. The miso is blended with lard to give it a creamy, rich aspect. Simple toppings to match the complex soup.


They make their original miso blend onsite, and if you are lucky enough you can catch them doing it.


The sign says "Feel free to take photos of us making the miso." Unfortunately, they weren't doing it when I was there.


I didn't sense a difference from their Machida shop, which might be more convenient.


Map of 1 Chome-3-1 Chūō, Chūō-ku, Sagamihara-shi, Kanagawa-ken 252-0239

Kanagawa-ken, Sagamihara-shi, Chuo-ku, Chuo 1-3-1
Closest station: Sagamihara

Open 10:30-1:00am