Thursday, July 20, 2017

麺匠ようすけ (Yosuke in Nakano)

麺匠ようすけ

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Yosuke has been serving up tori paitan, creamy chicken soup ramen, since 2011. This style runs the gamut from milky white and elegant to a little off color and rougher. Yosuke falls into the latter category, with a lot of in-your-face flavors and impact.

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Of course, that was what I ordered. There are three options. Go for assari if you want something light. Noukou means thick. Chou noukou is super thick, and the one I recommend.

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Line up outside by number.

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While newer places like Kagari are making headlines for their modern take on tori paitan, sometimes you just need to wander the confusing back alley's of Nakano and get a bowl that really kicks up the flavor.

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Very cool part of town, by the way.

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東京都中野区中野5-57-4
Tokyo, Nakano-ku, Nakano 5-57-4
Closest station: Nakano

Open 11:30-22:00
Closed Wednesdays

Monday, July 17, 2017

北大塚ラーメン (Kitaotsuka in Otsuka)

北大塚ラーメン

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Old-school chashu ramen, Tokyo-style.

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The menu here couldn't be more simple. Ramen, spicy ramen, ramen with a mountain of chashu pork, and spicy ramen with a mountain of chashu pork.

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I was happy to visit with a group of travelers from my Airbnb tour, and introduce them to a tiny spot in a seedy part of town that most foreigners wouldn't dream of visiting.

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Go for the 800 yen chashu bowl, it is a thing of beauty.

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Rich, niboshi-spike broth with fat noodles. The bowl here is full of fat and carbs, and one of the most photogenic in Tokyo if I say so.

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It's a lot of pork, so if you go with a friend, maybe split it and get one of each.

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Not a bad line, though you might wait a few minutes around the lunch rush.

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東京都豊島区北大塚1-14-1
Tokyo, Toshima-ku, Kitaotsuka 1-14-1
Closest station: Otsuka

Open 11:00-14:30, 17:30-23:00
Closed Sundays

Thursday, July 13, 2017

博多一瑞亭 (Hakata Issuitei in Shinjuku)

博多一瑞亭

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Great Hakata-style tonkotsu ramen is tough to find in Tokyo, especially if you've had the stuff in Kyushu. Tokyo loses a bit of the vibe, and residents complain about the smell. So shops cut corners, or go out of business. Shops like Tanaka Shoten are great, but not so convenient.

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When a native Japanese friend from Kyushu told me that his favorite spot in Tokyo is just down the road in Shinjuku, I had to go. Seven bowls of ramen please!

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I was on one of my group tours, and we were hungry after the 15 minute walk from Shinjuku Station.

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Solid. This bowl was on the rough side. I know some people like their tonkotsu ramen silky smooth and white, but I'll take a flavorful bowl with bits of pork fat any day.

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The egg is good, but not necessary.

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Quite a big shop, so it worked out well for our group tour.

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Crushed it!

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東京都新宿区新宿1-4-12
Tokyo, Shinjuku, Shinjuku 1-4-12
Closest station: Shinjuku

Open 11:00-23:00

Monday, July 10, 2017

和海 (Nagomi in Hyogo)

らーめん専門 和海

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Forty six down, four to go. You see, I have this list (check it here) of ramen shops that were dubbed the best 50 in Japan by Tabelog. I became obsessed with this list, but there is a problem; some shops are very far away.

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Nagomi is out in Hyogo Prefecture, on the way to Kobe Station. Not a problem if I live anywhere in Kansai, but for a Kanto guy like myself, I don't make it out here enough. Add to that the lunch only service, which always sells out, and this turns into a once in a blue moon ramen adventure.

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Although the shop recommends the 塩ミックス, a bowl with double the normal meat toppings, I went with the standard.

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Creamy chicken soup topped with two kinds of chicken chashu and a tasty piece of pork. Quite a knockout bowl. The round bread things are a signature of this shop, and of their sister shop just a few kilometers north.

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I loved this one, but I have to say I liked the other Nagomi more. This is a topic of discussion for locals, with the original shop slightly leading. Regardless, both are considered some of the best slurps in the prefecture.

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兵庫県尼崎市武庫川町2丁目19-3
Hyogo Prefecture, Amagasaki-shi, Mukogawa-cho 2-19-3
Closest station: Mukogawa

Open 11:30-15:30
Closed Sundays and Mondays

Thursday, July 6, 2017

月うさぎ (Tsukiusagi in Kobe)

月うさぎ

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Warning, not a ramen shop!

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I was enjoying some Kobe hospitality from a couple of friends at their local izakaya, a kind of Japanese restaurant that serves small plates and lots of drinks. When the shop master overhead talks of ramen, he insisted we try his. Let's do this!

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High quality dried noodles.

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He whipped up a light chicken and dashi broth, reduced it with cabbage and aromatic vegetables, and served us a simple, hearty ramen.

Then he did this.

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Raw slices of Kobe beef. While the soup was hot, we did it shabu shabu style, swishing the raw meat to get it just slightly cooked.

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This also gave the soup a bit of beefiness.

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The desert, white miso ice cream, was a great way to end the meal.

Just a quick aside to show that not only ramen shops serve up ramen. Many places in Japan will use all the left over broth from their restaurant to make rice and noodle dishes, served at the end of the meal. This can certainly be considered ramen, though you'd never find a place like Tsukiusagi categorized as a ramen shop.

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Website here.



神戸市中央区北長狭通2-11-5グランドコーストビル8F
Hyogo-Prefecture, Kobe-shi, Chuo-ku, Kitanagasadori 2-11-5
Closest station: Sanomiya

Please consult for more information. They are generally open from 5:00pm.

Monday, July 3, 2017

ロックンビリースーパーワン (Rocking Billy Super One in Amagasaki,Hyogo)

らぁめん矢 ロックンビリースーパーワン

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There was once a legendary shop in Tokyo. The master, Shimazaki-san, required near complete silence in his shop. Your phone rings? You're gone.You could take a photo, but you better not take long. Some people compared him to a popular character in the American TV show Seinfeld, and I could see it.

Past the rough exterior, he was an amazing man. Friendly as hell, he just wants his ramen shop to be a place of noodle greatness.

Well, he moved from his Machida location to Asakusa, and then disappeared. He finally reopened far away from Tokyo, in Hyogo Prefecture.

I went, and I made a video!



It's a trek, but you'll know you are here when you see that rockabilly sign out front.

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And that rockabilly master inside.

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Famous (and expensive) 比内地鶏 - hinai chicken - is rendered down for some of the richest chicken oil in a bowl of ramen. I found this kind of oil a bit heavy in ramen back when I was younger, but now I can't get enough of it.

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The concept is simplicity, but this bowl goes deep. Aged soy sauce provides the kick.

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Ramen is my life!! Rock n Roll is Greatest!!

Words to live by.

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Go for the 尼ロック if you want the shoyu, which is probably your best best for the first time. The Sロック is a popular salt ramen. The 俺のつけめん is a tsukemen dish. I hope to be back to try them all.

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This shop is a favorite among ramen chefs around the world. His attention to detail caught the eye of the Lucky Peach magazine people, who put it in their first issue.

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Thanks for signing my magazine!

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Map of 〒661-0012 Hyōgo-ken, Amagasaki-shi, Minamitsukaguchichō, 3 Chome−29−13

兵庫県尼崎市南塚口町3-29-13
Hyogo-ken, Amagasaki-shi, Minamitsukaguchicho 3-29-13
Closest station: Tsukaguchi

Open 11:00-14:00. 18:00-21:00
Sundays  11:00-15:00
Closed Mondays