Thursday, April 19, 2018

かみあり (Kamiari in Shimane Prefecture)



The search for the best ramen in Shimane Prefecture was over after the first bowl. The odds of anyone topping this one are slim to none. Just give them the prize!


Shimane is a strange prefecture. It could be Japan's longest prefecture, stretching over 200km along the Sea of Japan. Despite the size, the east side is where most tourism happens, with Izumo Shrine as a dream destination of singles everywhere. Visit, make an offering, and love is sure to come your way.

The above photo is from the stunning Adachi Museum of Art, with an award winning garden and rotating collection of Japanese art.


If you love ramen and motorcycles, you're in luck.


Kamiari. This shop was highly recommended by those in the know. Seafood is the theme.



Shijimi shio. Hamaguri shoyu. Ebi miso. Gyokai noko.

Freshwater clam salt. Saltwater clam soy sauce. Shrimp miso. Thick dried fish.


And homemade noodles. It was tough to decide, but I felt confident with the miso this time.


Thick soup made with shrimp, topped with an aromatic shrimp oil for even more of an impact.


They also have limited bowls. In the summer, a sea urchin tsukemen looks like a winner. I'm still happy with my shrimp miso.

I love the onomatopoeia.

ゴロゴロ - heavy?
ザクザク - rough?


Of course, further research showed that the shijimi, a kind of local freshwater clam, was the most popular. Well, the most Instagramable at least, with the マシマシ version overflowing with the tiny clams.

A post shared by Katoul (@katoul_insta2) on

Next time.


And I was obviously being facetious when I said that this is the best in the prefecture. They are actually somewhere in the 20s on the ramen database (here), which is shocking to me. That database, though, is a little wishy washy in the countryside.

This is part of a motorcycle trip I took in 2017. Check it out here:


Shimane-ken, Izumo-shi, Hikawachogakuto 1815-1
15 minute walk from Shobara Station

Open 11:00-15:00
Closed Thursdays

Monday, April 16, 2018

華漸 (Kazen in Yonago, Tottori Prefecture)

がんこラーメン 華漸 -KAZEN-


Welcome to Tottori Prefecture.

Tottori is located northeast of Osaka, and northwest of Hiroshima. The key here is north, and this makes the prefecture an out-of-the-way destination that few people visit.

It is a beautiful, quite part of Japan, though, and they even have their own style of ramen. Beef bone broth is big here, and shops scattered around the prefecture all have their own take on the concept.


Kazen in the populous town of Yonago (relatively populous) does a morning ramen from around 7:00am. Drop a single coin, just 500 yen, and start your day right.


The master is using a light beef bone broth, and mixing it with shijimi clams, one of the famous products from nearby Lake Shinji.


Noodles are made in house by the master, Tadahiro Yoshida.


Notice that bone hanging outside? Ramen nerds will know that as the calling card of Ganko. Most of the shops in this family proudly display the bovine femur.


In line with the Ganko lineage, Kazen uses beef, pork, and chicken in the broth. Yoshida-san puts his own spin on the bowl with a different style of noodles, and the morning ramen thing is his own as well.


This bowl was one of the best things I've eaten before 10am. Just enough to get me going for the day of motorcycle riding ahead. Hints of shijimi clams (he makes a separate clam seasoning liquid) and a perfect egg.

Take note that the shops stops serving the morning ramen at 10am, and closes at 2pm.


This is part of a motorcycle trip I took in 2017. Check it out here:

Official site here.


Tottori-ken, Yonago-shi, Hatagasaki 2-13-29
20 minute walk from Goto Station

Open 7:00-14:00 (the menu changes at 10:00am)

Thursday, April 12, 2018

和利道 warito (Warito in Naka-Meguro)

麺屋 和利道 warito


Warito comes from the TETSU lineage. TETSU is one of Tokyo's most famous tsukemen shops, but they sold the name a few years back and started opening up as a franchise. The franchise restaurants weren't anywhere near as great as the original, and it seemed that Japan had lost one of their treasures.


Warito is there to save the day.


The thick noodles and intense pork and fish broth (more of a gravy) are as good as ever. Noodles can be served あつもり, in a hot broth, while most tsukemen shops only serve the noodles cold. If you can manage to crush your noodles in a timely manner, I suggest atsumori. If you eat slowly, get the normal, cold noodles and take your time.


And the stone is still here. When the soup loses some temperature, ask for a 焼石. Yakiishi means hot stone. A red-hot iron fishing weight is dropped into the soup, essentially reboiling it.


I'm surprised, to be honest, that this still exists. Has no one seriously burnt themselves? I'm happy for the continued use, though, as it is one of the most unique cooking techniques in the ramen world.


Tokyo, Meguro-ku, Aobadai 3-7-10
7 minute walk from Ikejiri-Ohashi Station

Open 11:00-15:30, 18:00-21:00
Closed Wednesdays

Monday, April 9, 2018

麺LABOひろ (Menlabohiro in Yutenji)



LABO opened at the end of 2016. As such, they weren't considered for an award in the Oscars-of-ramen ranking list put together by TRY magazine, which stands for Tokyo Ramen of the Year. This are the magazine that consistently gets things right, showcasing the year's best new openings.


The following year, LABO was given the rookie shop of the year. They were also awarded #1 in the shoyu category and #2 in the shio category. But let's be honest, no one was beating out MENSHO's new shio.

Both bowls are outstanding. The soup is chicken and niboshi, a simple combination that continues to be the rage in gourmet ramen. A bundle of pickled sansho peppers are a unique accent. They're aromatic, tangy, and give a lasting numbness to your tongue. Order the 1200 yen LABO鶏そば to get your bowl with all the toppings, including slow roasted duck chashu.


Limited bowls are common, and a 白だし, clear broth, was available this time.


I should note that no photos are allowed, apart from a photo of your food. It's written in big letters on the ticket machine, and I asked permission for the non-ramen shots.


The master worked in the world of yakitori, grilled chicken skewers, before opening this ramen shop.

Line up early for this one.


Tokyo, Meguro-ku, Gopongi 2-51-5
5 minute walk from Yutenji Station

Open 11:30-15:00, 18:00-21:00
Sundays 11:30-14:00
Closed Wednesdays

Thursday, April 5, 2018

カラシビバーガー (Kikanbo Collab with Shake Shack)



Apologies for the lateness of this post. This was a one-day-only collaboration between everyone's favorite ramen shop Kikanbo and everyone's favorite burger joint Shake Shack. If you follow me on Instagram you would have known.


Burgers from the Shack with Kikanbo's insane thick-cut chashu and a special karashibi sauce. And Kikanbo's signature baby corn, spiced with plenty of numbing sansho pepper.


Did you go? Consider yourself lucky if you did; this was one amazing burger.




Like I said, I announce this sort of thing over on Instagram these days:


Monday, April 2, 2018

鴨to葱 (Duck and Onion in Ueno)

らーめん 鴨to葱


Is duck a trend these days? Duck and Onion opened in July, 2016, and takes duck to another level. Or maybe they take it down a level. The soup is made with nothing but duck and green onion.


An explanation basically says that duck meat is lower in cholesterol, higher in vitamins, and contains all the umami producing acids that a good bowl of ramen should have.


Duck, green onion, water. That's it for the broth.

As for the tare seasoning, things are a bit more complex. A blend of soy sauce from Chiba, Wakayama, and other spots give the ramen hear its signature impact. The duck is sourced from famous duck regions of Japan; Kyoto, Aomori, and Saitama.


Beautiful. They are using special bowls that are meant to let the aroma spread.


You'll be asked about the toppings. Green onion is prepared four or five ways, and you get to choose two. I went with tempura and fried. These choices are constantly changing. You can always ask for オススメ. Osusume means recommendation.


Fresh ingredients only in this chemical free bowl.


The upper right is the way to go, as it comes with extra slices of the excellent duck breast chashu.


Tokyo, Taito-ku, Ueno 6-3-6
5 minute walk from Ueno Station

Open 11:00-15:00, 17:00-21:30
Weekends 11:00-20:00