Thursday, August 31, 2017

つけ麺 道 (Michi in Kameari)

つけ麺 道

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Finally!

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I finally made it to what many say is the best tsukemen shop in Japan.

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I've been here a few times, but it was always their non-tsukemen shio ramen. It was good, but not something I wanted to trek out for again. So I checked a few sources, checked again, and headed out early to get in line.

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Michi opened in 2009, when the master, Nagahama-san, left Honda, a popular shop that has produced many successful successors. Nagahama-san was only 22.

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Some ramen nerds scoff at this #1 status, as the shop doesn't make make their own noodles. Regardless, they are solid. That is the only criticism that anyone could make.

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The soup, a pork, chicken, and dried seafood blend, is legit. A bit more refined than other shops in this category.

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I dig the presentation of the toppings. Separate toppings mean you can really appreciate each bite on it's own level.

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Keep in mind that the upper left, at 500 yen, is just noodles and soup. Go for the 800 yen つけ麺, as I did, or the special at 1000 yen if you want those toppings (you do).

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Another interesting note is the small bowl of sauce. It changes daily, and makes this shop a repeater. Maybe a bit spicy, maybe a bit sweet.

All in all, a shop you should probably hit up sooner in your ramen adventure than I did.

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東京都葛飾区亀有5-28-17
Tokyo, Katsushika-ku, Kameari 5-28-17
Closest station: Kameari

Open 11:30-around 7:00pm or whenever the soup runs out
Closed on Monday and Tuesday (when the shop is open as a shio ramen spot)

But I'm not 100% sure about these hours.

Monday, August 28, 2017

吉虎 (Kichitora in Shibuya)

吉虎 東京

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I couldn't figure this one out. I think, but I'm not sure, that this shop first opened in Manila, in the Philippines, before opening a shop in downtown Shibuya. Or maybe it is the other way around.

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Anyways, the staff were about half Japanese and half foreigners, and they laughed at me when I got a small size (150g) bowl of tsukemen. I was informed that they were all the same price.

Dude, maybe I'm just not hungry!

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Maybe I was just saving room for desert!

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I mean, you wouldn't want to eat The Asian strongest almond jelly on a full stomach.

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If you are worried about pork, this bowl is no problem. The soup is a creamy chicken paitain style, but still rich and meaty.

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Before you finish, you can order some jyajyamen topping.

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Spicy ground meat hit with spices. No charge!

Very tourist-friendly.

Yeah, food for Shibuya's Center Gai shopping (and drinking) street.

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Official (overseas) site here.

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東京都渋谷区宇田川町31-9
Tokyo, Shibuya-ku, Udagawacho 31-9
Closest station: Shibuya

Open 11:00-24:00
Sundays 11:00-23:00

Thursday, August 24, 2017

さくら井 (Sakurai in Mitaka)

麺屋 さくら井

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Where are we heading this time?

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North of Mitaka, into the heart of a residential district. Mitaka lies along Tokyo's Chuo line, a famous route that connects the middle of the city with the not-so-middle. Looking to actually live in a house? Check your budget and then check along the Chuo.

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Really? There's a ramen shop down here?

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Yes. Yes there is. And a great one at that.

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Sakurai just opened in the end of 2016, and the hype has been big around this one. Shoyu, shio, and niboshi on the menu. I gotta go for the shoyu!

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Soy sauce from Wakayama Prefecture and Totori Prefecture make up the main blend, with four others balancing out the flavor. I am always impressed when a shop chooses more than a few types of one ingredient. It is usually a sign of excellence, and Sakurai is no exception.

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Chicken, pork, and Hokkaido konbu make up the soup. It should also be of note that there is no chemical seasoning in the bowl. All that umami is pure nature.

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Official site here.

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東京都武蔵野市西久保2-15-27
Tokyo, Musashino-shi, Nishikubo 2-15-27
Closest Station: Mitaka

Open 11:30-14:30, 18:00-21:00
Closed Wednesday

Monday, August 21, 2017

中華そば 児ノ木 (Chigonoki in Nakai)

中華そば 児ノ木

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It is tough keeping track of all these quality new shops lately, and Chigonoki just adds to the mix. Actually, what I really like about this spot is just that, a mix.

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Niboshi ramen. I love it. Bitter, smoky fish flavors, often garnished with a mound of raw onion that melts into the soup, giving it a bit of sweet and a bit of spicy. It is, though, an intense flavor that quite a few foreigners (and locals) don't like.

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Well, this was part of a ramen tour, and we had enough people to try it all.

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The third row reads 鶏 + 煮干し, chicken and niboshi blend. This one is your standard niboshi broth, cut with some high quality chicken soup. Definitely the choice for someone unfamiliar with the niboshi flavors.

But this is no watered-down bowl. It uses 茜鶏, akanedori, a specialty chicken breed and three kinds of dried fish.

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The above is from the second row. 100% clear niboshi soup. Intense and easy to slurp.

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But for me? I'm going for the 背脂 version. That's pork back fat!

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Ask for extra if you want. Even though this was my first meal of the day, there's nothing like niboshi ramen with all that fat.

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So silky smooth.

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Great new shop, worthy of a visit.

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Expect a small line, but Nakai is kind of out of everyone's way, so it won't be too bad.

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東京都新宿区上落合1-5-3
Tokyo, Shinjuku-ku, Kamiochia 1-5-3
Closest station: Nakai

Open 11:00-14:30, 17:30-22:00
Sunday 11:00-16:00
Closed Mondays

Thursday, August 17, 2017

玉ぐすく (Tamagusuku in Nagoya)

麺屋 玉ぐすく

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Some ramen shops have a style that you'll never forget. One common theme is music. Ramen chefs tend to enjoy kicking back, and you'll find plenty of rock-and-roll ramen dudes out there. Some, though, prefer something a bit different.

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In this case, I seem to have stumbled onto an Okinawan punk-themed ramen shop, in a rougher part of Nagoya.

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The Okinawa part is apparent by the menu. Sokisoba as the number one menu item. But, unlike other Okinawan restaurants, this spot serves up more "standard" bowls; shio and shoyu make up the number two and three respectively. Gotta go for the soki though.

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It wouldn't be Okinawa without their most famous condiment. Ko-re-gu-su is a mix of potent Okinawa alcohol called Awamori and red chili peppers. It is mega spicy, and a little goes a long way. It also gets you a little drunk.

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Back to the punk. A constant stream of punk live plays on the shop's TV and speakers.

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Autographs adorn the wall. Huck Finn? Anyone?

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Sorry, I know nothing of the local Japanese punk scene.

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But I can definitely get down to it while slurping some homemade noodles.

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My intention wasn't to pig out, but pig out I did. Sokisoba with a side of fried rice. Good stuff. Sokisoba is often a simple dish; a clear broth, some noodles, very few toppings, and a side of stewed pork, called soki. This is how I like it, and any time I've had a bowl with too much going on, it was disappointing.

Simple and refreshing with an intense piece of meat. Rock on.

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As I was just in town for a night, I couldn't resist another bowl. The shop serves a taco rice mazesoba, an easy choice for me. Taco rice is an Okinawan dish of, you guessed it, rice topped with taco meat, lettuce, and tomato.

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In this case, cheese and a bit of spice as well. Mix it up and go to town.

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愛知県名古屋市千種区今池1-6-8
Aichi-ken, Nagoya-shi, Chikusa, Imaike 1-6-8
Closest station: Imaike

Open 11:30-14:00, 18:00-24:00
Closed Sundays and some Mondays