Monday, January 15, 2018

東京ラーメンショー (2017 Tokyo Ramen Show)

東京ラーメンショー 2017


I'm not going to report on the event, as it is long over, but I will say that this is probably my last time trying so many bowls at one time. Famous last words, but I felt that after number six or seven my taste buds were shot.

I was with a friend, a super ramen nerd, who was trying to reach 1000 bowls in the year. You can do this by attending these sort of ramen festivals, which are now almost weekly around Japan. Other ramen nerds have begun to dislike this sort of binge eating, as it appears to be more about numbers than actually enjoying the food. I am of two minds, though wasting food is always an issue.

I was really happy to see the other Tokyo festival, the Grand Tsukemen Fest, dropping their price down to 500 yen and serving half size portions of noodles. Everyone should follow suit.

The Tokyo Ramen Show's website can be seen here.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

大つけ麺博 (2017 Grand Tsukemen Fest)

大つけ麺博 2017





The Grand Tsukemen Fest did something great this year. They dropped the price of bowls to 500 yen, and they halved the portions. This meant that I could roll in with a couple of friends each week (the event lasted 5 weeks, with different shops each time) and easily try all nine bowls.

Not only was this great, but I think this was the best ramen event in terms of taste that I have ever been to. Usually, eating ramen outdoors in a plastic bowl means a very substandard bowl, but the Grand Tsukemen Fest delivered this time.

Every year in October. Mark your calendars. For 2018, I am going to try and get some overseas shops to participate.

Monday, January 8, 2018

長浜らーめん (Nagahama Ramen in Setagaya)

長浜らーめん世田谷店

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Not sure how this one ended up on my list of spots to try.

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At 600 yen, though, it's a steal.

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A stinky, stinky steal. I could smell this shop a block away. A typical smell for a typical bowl of tonkotsu ramen.

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Oh wait, I remember why I wanted to come!

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Despite the odd smattering of famous people's signatures, I remember my friend Ladybeard had been here for a video shoot.



Yes, I have interesting friends in Japan. Ladybeard has since left the Ladybaby group and gone on to form Deadlift Lolita, the first weight training idol group of its kind. But you probably already knew that.

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東京都世田谷区上北沢4-30-8
Tokyo, Setagaya-ku, Kamikitazawa 4-30-8
Closest station: Hachimanyama

Open 11:00-5:00am
Closed Wednesdays

Thursday, January 4, 2018

The Best Ramen in Japan 2017

The Best Ramen in Japan
2017 Edition

This was a fun year for travelling outside of Tokyo in search of great bowls. Much of my search was actually revisiting my favorite shops in as many prefectures as I could, and documenting it for a YouTube project that I am working on called Ramen Riders. But there were still many chances to try new, stellar bowls. Here are the eight bowls from Japan (and abroad) that made a big impact on me in 2017.

NOROMA in Nara

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Nara Prefecture's #1 ranked shop. Creamy chicken soup that is simple, with a very deep, lingering aftertaste.

麺や青雲志 (Seiunshi in Mie)

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I was on a cross-country ramen trip when I noticed that I had a shop nearby that someone had recommended. It turned out to be one of the best bowls of the year. Only open for a few hours at lunch, and they almost always sell out. Three or four different styles, and the two I tried were a testament to this one.

和海 (Nagomi in Hyogo)

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Hyogo Prefecture's #1 ranked shop. Chicken and primo dried fish make this one a solid pick for a recommendation.

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

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The legend from Tokyo moved out to Amagasaki a few years back. Golden chicken oil, premium ingredients, and an atmosphere that needs to be seen. Perfect ramen in silence that is worth the trek.

Slurp Ramen Joint in Copenhagen, Denmark

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My friend's shop in Copenhagen is a huge success. I'm sure a lot has changed in the year since I tried this one, but they seem to be killing it out there. Homemade noodles with a mix of Japanese and Bornholme wheat, choice pork, and a secret tare base inspired by one of Tokyo's most famous spots.

凪 (Nagi in Taipei)

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Nagi's Hakata-style ramen in a collaboration with a New York BBQ spot? I was intrigued. Smoked brisket oil in ramen is a combo that more people should taste.

ラーメン無法松 (Muhomatsu in Kokura, Fukuoka)

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Famous, and super out of the way. Solid tonkotsu ramen in the land of tonkotsu ramen. The soup is lighter than most pork bone soups.

浅月 (Satsuki in Okayama)

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The definition of old school. Open since 1948, if you are every in Okayama seek this one out.

Please keep in mind that my annual lists are not a best-of, but just a personal reflection on what I wrote about throughout the year. More of my top bowl lists can be found:

HERE!

Monday, January 1, 2018

Best Ramen in Tokyo 2017

The Best Ramen in Tokyo
2017 Edition

In 2017, my pace picked up significantly. Though I ate around the same number of bowls in total as in 2016, I really hit the new shops with gusto. Here are 13 that were particularly great (with another 10 at the bottom for good measure). Keep in mind that this list is not a best-of list, but the bowls that I personally tried for the first time this year and loved.

楓 (Kaede in Ogikubo)

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Kaede is an offshoot of the famous miso ramen shop Hanamichi. This one is just as good, if not better for the touch of ginger sauce on top.

MENSHO in Gokokuji

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One of the latest (he keeps opening new shops!) from the MENSHO group. Farm-to-table is the concept, and this one is as close to a fine-dining bowl as you'll get for under $50.

季織亭 (Kioritei in Yoyogi-Uehara)

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麺屋福丸 (Fukumaru in Sasazuka)

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The ramen critics didn't like this one as much as me, but I think their kamopaitan, creamy soup made with 100% duck bones, is to die for. A unique taste you won't find anywhere else.

鶏喰~TRICK~ (TRICK in Yokohama)

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The king of chicken. Beautiful. Judge this one by the photo.

らーめん 改 (Kai in Kuramae)

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There was a trend over the last few years to use more shellfish in ramen broth. Kai uses plenty of clams for an overload of ocean umami. Noodles made on site.

鳴龍 (Nakiryu in Otsuka)

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The Michelin people handed Nakiryu a star most likely for their shoyu ramen. Personally, I think their tantanmen is the way to go. Very mild, with hints of oyster in the soup.

麺魚 (Mengyo in Kinshicho)

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Tai soup blended with creamy chicken soup, topped with smoked chashu and an egg injected with snapper dashi. Next level.

つけ麺 道 (Michi in Kameari)

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I finally made it to one of the most famous tonkotsu gyokai tsukemen shops in Japan. It lives up to the hype. Arrive an hour before opening if you want to save time in the long run.

みつヰ (Mitsui in Asakusa)

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Clean, simple Kitakata-style ramen. Mukacho (no chemical seasoning) for people who really think that is important. The Michelin guide does, as this is one of the newcomers to their bib gourmand list.

博多一瑞亭 (Hakata Issuitei in Shinjuku)

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Solid Hakata ramen in the middle of Shinjuku. If you want to check this style off your list, go here instead of the chain shops that all the tourists line up for.

北大塚ラーメン (Kitaotsuka in Otsuka)

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Look at the photo above. It it looks like something you want, you should go here. Old school shop.

さくら井 (Sakurai in Mitaka)

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My pick for off-the-beaten-path ramen. Mitaka isn't too far, but most people wouldn't go there, or walk 15 minutes into a residential neighborhood for ramen. You should, though.


I didn't want to make this list too massive, so here are some honorable mentions:

カシムラ (Kashimura in Shinbashi) - Interesting use of arai (left over fish bones) from the nearby Tsukiji market.
べんてん (Benten in Narimasu) - A Tokyo classic makes their triumphant return. Huge line!
山雄亭 (Sanyutei in Akabane) - Meticulously crafted toppings, with a price to match.
misato in Okubo - Mounds of seabura backfat to die for.
さんじ (Sanji in Ueno) - Niboshi, crab, and a whole lot of quail eggs.
桑嶋 (Kuwajima in Shimokitazawa) - A solid bowl in one of my favorite parts of town.
八咫烏 (Yatagarasu in Kudanshita) - Near-perfect bowl of shoyu ramen.
タンタンタイガー (Tantan Tiger in Asakusa) - Be careful, you get to choose your own levels of spice!
篠はら (Shinohara in Ikebukuro) - Deep shoyu that deserves a few more trips.
KaneKitchen Noodles in Higashi-Nagasaki - Fun spot with a lot of great options.