Thursday, May 31, 2018

グリーンコーナー (Green Corner in Wakayama)



I had already crushed two bowls of delicious Wakayama ramen, but I figured I would ask my taxi driver, an expert in local noodles, if there was a third spot that was both light and small. He knew just the place.

Green Corner is a diner-looking kind of spot, with some random dishes like curry and fried pork cutlets on the menu. Best of all, everything was cheap. And nothing was cheaper than the mini ramen; it cost 206 yen for a bowl. Topped with some green seaweed, green onions, and a bit of tempura bits. Crushed it!


It makes sense that a shop called Green Corner would have some tasty green ice cream. See you later Ramen Taxi!


No, I don't recommend Green Corner as a top ramen shop in Japan, but it was a decent local spot, and I'm glad I went.

This was part of a trip I took to Wakayama to check out the ramen taxi.

The entire writeup is here:

Huge thanks to My Secret Wakayama for the opportunity.


1 Chome-1-1 Funazuchō, Wakayama-shi, Wakayama-ken 640-8255
20 minutes from Wakayama-Shi Station

Open 11:00-22:30

Monday, May 28, 2018

丸三 (Marusan in Wakayama)

中華そば 丸三


I asked my Wakayama Ramen Taxi driver to take me to his favorite shop. Marusan is a local spot a short drive out of town. Typical tonkotsu shoyu style, but in this case a little bit lighter than other shops.

Many shops in Wakayama have a 丸, maru, in the name. One of the original Wakayama ramen shops was called Marutaka, and shops since then have paid homage. The original dates back to the 1940s.

I enjoyed this shop, but unless you drive or take the Ramen Taxi, it is a trek.


This was part of a trip I took to Wakayama to check out the ramen taxi.

The entire writeup is here:

Huge thanks to My Secret Wakayama for the opportunity.


Wakayama-ken, Wakayama-sho, Shioya 6-2-88
30 minute walk from Kimidera Station

Open 11:00-21:00
Closed Sundays

Thursday, May 17, 2018

山為食堂 (Yamatame Shokudo in Wakayama)



Wakayama is known for this style. Heavy pork tonkotsu soup with equally heavy, often local, shoyu seasoning. This particular shop, Yamatame Shokudo, is picture perfect, and a great way to start a local ramen tour. This shop has been open since 1953.

The most famous shop in Wakayama is Ideshoten, a must-hit for anyone on a ramen mission in the area. Keep in mind, though, that there are dozens of other quality shops around.

If you need a guide (and you probably do), check out the Wakayama Ramen Taxi. They will have you sorted in no time!


This was part of a trip I took to Wakayama to check out the ramen taxi.

The entire writeup is here:

Huge thanks to My Secret Wakayama for the opportunity.


Wakayama-ken, Wakayama-shi, Fukumachi 12
10 minute walk from Wakayama-shi Station

Open 11:00-17:00
Closed Sundays

Monday, May 14, 2018

ねいろ屋 (Neiroya in Ogikubo)



I'd visited Neiroya in Ogikubo years ago, and felt it was time for a return. They had closed, but opened just across the small walking street they have always been on.


And, yes, they still serve shaved ice.


Always start with ramen. Actually, I have heard that かき氷オタク, shaved ice nerds, will eat a shaved ice, then ramen, then another shaved ice. Yes, shaved ice has some fans who search out good shops all over the country.


I went with the lemon ramen, a limited item, this time. Neiroya is constantly making limited bowls with a theme of local products. Lemons only really grow in one part of Japan, The Seto Inland Sea, and the limited space means that most of them are from small, organic farmers. Other citrus fruits thrive in Japan, but not lemons.

The regular bowls are shoyu using products from the Seto Sea, and a shio using free range chicken and pork.


The shaved ice menu is always seasonal, and this time grapes were in season. I had to look up these particular fruits, as I'd never heard of ピオーネ or スチューべン before.

Pione are a kind of grape used for rose wine, and Steuben are a dark variety that ripen shortly after Concord grapes.


Really refreshing.


By the way, you'll have to order ramen if you want to try the shaved ice for lunch, but from 3:00pm, you can get just shaved ice.


You should really eat ramen, though.


Tokyo, Suginami-ku, Amanuma 3-6-24
8 minute walk from Ogikubo Station

Open 11:30-14:00, 15:00-20:00
Weekends 11:00-16:00

Thursday, May 10, 2018

一笑 (Issho in Asagaya)



Fun, local shop!


I do, too. I need a noodle to keep me happy.


There's a bit of kabuki involved here. First, get the ramen in the upper left. Then choose how you want it. The yellow buttons in the middle are all different bowls of toppings. I'll break them down.

プレーン - Plain (boooooring!)
スタベジ - Stamina-style with extra garlic
カラベジ - Spicy style
シビベジ - Numbing style
トマベジ - Tomato Style
すっぱベジ - sour (Thai) style
ウオベジ - Fishy style
ブラベジ - Fatty style


I went with the Thai style, which has a copious amount of lemongrass and cilantro. Blurred in the back is the spicy style, topped with red chili powder and fried garlic.


The soup itself is a heavy pork based broth, filled with medium noodles. It was quality, though I was fussing over the huge variety of topping bowls and didn't really savor the soup as I probably should have. Gotta go back. Gotta try a few more.


And how awesome is this.


Tokyo, Suginami-ku, Asagayaminami 1-9-5
2 minute walk from Minami Asagaya Station

Open 11:00-16:00
Closed Wednesdays

Monday, May 7, 2018

海鳴 (Unari in the Fukuoka Airport)

ラーメン海鳴 福岡空港店


Quelle surprise! Fukuoka Airport has a new ramen-only zone, with 10 shops to serve you. I had no idea!


I remember the airport being under construction six months before.


The mix is about half local and half from other parts of Japan. Instead of any proper research, I jumped into the one that was most crowded. U7RI, pronounced Unari.


Unari has four or five shops in Kyushu serving local-style tonkotsu soup blended with gyokai for a bolder, fishier flavor.


The soup is boiled for around 20 hours and then blended with another soup made from niboshi (dried baby sardines) and Japanese dashi. Their menu showed an appealing ラーメン辛子明太子, ramen topped with mentaiko. True Hakata style!


It used to be that only ramen shops you've never heard of, and would never want to go to were at the airports of Japan, but times are changing. This ramen street will be a must-hit for me anytime I fly out of Fukuoka. The problem is that Unari is one I could go to again, it was really good.


Keep in mind that this is at the domestic terminal. There is a free shuttle between the international and domestic, so you could potentially plan a visit given enough time. Enjoy!


See you again soon. I hope to try them all!


Official site here.


福岡県福岡市博多区下臼井767-1 福岡空港国内線ターミナルビル3階「ラーメン滑走路」内
Fukuoka Airport Terminal 3

Open 10:00-21:45

Thursday, May 3, 2018

八ちゃん (Hacchan in Fukuoka)

太宰府八ちゃんラーメン 本店


As my trips to Fukuoka become more frequent, I find that the ramen hunt is getting tougher and tougher. Sure, Fukuoka proper has hundreds of shops to check out, but the real gems, the ones that come as recommendations from the ramen nerds I listen to most, those shops require some train time.


Hacchan is near Tofuro-mae Station, about 30 minutes by train from Hakata. Looking at the name, I thought it might reference a massive tower (楼) of tofu (豆腐), but actually just refers to an old lookout (都府楼). A quick bit of route talk; don't board any kind of express train.


Ramen, ramen with extra chashu (sold out), and fried rice. That's all you can order. That's always a good sign.


Completely, unequivocally solid tonkotsu ramen.


Hacchan is more on the rough, gritty side of the spectrum. Unfortunately, the extra chashu option was sold out (this is a common occurrence at shops with amazing pork), so only two slices of the stuff was served as a topping.


Although the shop is out of the way, it is on the line leading to Dazaifu (太宰府), an amazing temple complex in the area. Dazaifu is also home of one of Japan's most famous Starbucks. Enjoy!


Fukuoka-ken, Dazaifu-shi, Kokubu 1-1-38
15 minute walk from Mizuki Station

Open 11:00-14:30, 18:30-23:30
Closed Tuesdays and Sundays