Monday, July 31, 2017

最強ラーメンFes. (2016 Grand Ramen Festival in Machida)

最強ラーメンFes.



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Anyways, the Grand Tsukemen Fest is now the Grand Ramen Fest, I suppose. A bowl of garlic-spiked tonkotsu ramen by any other name would be just as sweet.

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This time, the festival was over six weeks. Each week has ten shops. That's 60 bowls to try! Not only that, but each shop has an ura bowl (裏 = under). You need to eat the regular before you can try these secret bowls. So for the true fanatic, that's 120 bowls to sample.

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I'm not about to come out here every week and go crazy (Machida is a bit of a trek for me), but these are the ones we tried. There was also fried rice and gyoza this time around. The gyoza I tried was pretty poor. Stick to the ramen.

I'll shy away from any commentary on the bowls, as this event is in the past now.

Keep an eye on the Ramen Adventures Facebook page for info about the next one. In October, it will be in Shinjuku again, and I'll try to go every week. See you there!

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Please see the event page for current information. It looks like they will have an event every March in Machida and every October in Shinjuku, as well as possible pop ups around Japan.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

いま村 (Imamura in Sugamo)

麺や いま村

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A new shop serving up creamy toripaitan soup? I'm there!

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Imamura is located just around the block from Tsuta, the Michelin starred shop in Sugamo. And while Tsuta is in a rather shady neighborhood, across the street from some short-rest love hotels, Imamura is right in the middle of a brothel alley.

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Just outside the window is one of the many shops. 3000 yen to enter.

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Well, for less than a third of that price, you can get a solid bowl of creamy chicken soup ramen, served with some freshly grilled chicken chashu.  The shop master, Imamura-san, is there shaking noodles, serving soup, and manning the grill.

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The bowl here is spiked with niboshi, dried baby sardines that add a smoky kick to the mix, and a lot of umami. 

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Awesome egg!

It's a decent bowl on Tokyo's north side. Check it out if you are, ummm, in the neighborhood.

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東京都豊島区巣鴨1-13-3
Tokyo, Toshima-ku, Sugamo 1-13-3
Closest station: Sugamo

Open 11:00-23:00
Closed Mondays

Monday, July 24, 2017

春日亭 (Kasugatei in Ikebukuro)

油そば専門店 春日亭 池袋本店

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In the world of aburasoba, soupless noodles served with oil and seasoning, Kasugatei is a powerhouse. They boast 12 shops at the time of writing, all of which have a steady following.

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As with most aburasoba, topping selection is key. The noodles alone are great, made with 100% Hokkaido flour, but the five base choices are what make the big difference.

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English, Chinese, and Korean. No problem!

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I went with the recommended 鶏豚, a super thick gravy made form chicken and pork. It was probably soup at one stage, but this sauce is simmered for two days. This is combined with the shop's signature soy sauce tare seasoning for a bit of kick and a bit of cream.

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As with ramen in this style, the next step is to mix it up with your choice of condiments.

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Vinegar and hot chili oil are the go-to addition that most people add. Raw garlic and mayonnaise are other popular choices, though I am not a fan of either.

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Mix, eat, and if you plan on returning, get a stamp on your stamp card. Prizes for regulars range from a free bowl to t-shirts to custom caps. Some of the top tier prizes require a few hundred visits, though there are opportunities for triple points on certain days.

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Official site here.

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東京都豊島区西池袋1-5-4
Tokyo, Toshima-ku, Ikebukuro 1-5-4
Closest station: Ikebukuro

Open 11:00-23:00
Sundays 11:00-22:00

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