Thursday, September 27, 2018

UNIHOLIC in Roppongi


Food porn alert!

Uniholic opened recently in Roppongi. The concept is, as expected, sea urchin cuisine.

The shop goes all in, and everything on the menu is uni-centric.

Small plates.

Rice bowls.


To be honest, the tsukemen, made with clams and a light dipping broth, paled in comparison to the rice bowl.

Uni is such a trendy food these days, especially for people who love to photograph and post their eats. Uniholic took this into account, and the shop is very Instagramable. Not cheap, but not too pricey either.

If you want uni in the area, and have 4000 yen to burn, do check out the Honmaruan soba shop.

Monday, September 24, 2018

栄屋 (Sakaeya in Yamagata)

栄屋 本店

Made it!

Sakaeya is probably the most famous shop in Yamagata City, and perhaps even the prefecture. To be honest, I don't know any real draw for this part of Japan, other than some nice outdoor areas and a few temples that show up on temple nerd's radars. That, and ramen.

According to this site, Yamagata Prefecture has the most ramen shops per capita. It's one of the least populous prefectures as well, so don't look too much into the data. More fun facts, Yamagata has a few distinct styles of ramen; spicy miso, fish, and cold ramen.

Cold ramen served year round.

You don't see this often; health checks.

As I turn 40 I'm reminded that I should cut 100 calories a day. Not interested.

Back to the ramen.

In 1952, Sakaeya invented this new style of chilled ramen to combat the summer heat. You might not see it in the photo, but there are actual ice cubes made of soup in there. This is different from hiyashichuka, a cold style of ramen invented in Tokyo that is more of a noodle with sauce dish. In recent years, though, naming conventions have gone out the window and anything cold can be called hiyashi.

Just remember that it all started here.

The noodles stay extra chewy in the cold broth, and the addition of some sliced cucumber make it extra refreshing.

This year, 2018, saw record highs. The world could use a little cold ramen.

Of course, all the stars have been.

The shop runs a little slow, and I missed my train back to Tokyo by a few minutes. Oops! Well, in Japan, you can always take the next train and sit in the non-reserved seats, or even take a local train home. Yes, this express train is almost three hours.

Website here.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

麺藤田 (Doda in Yamagata)


I was up in Yamagata City for the first time in my Japan life, and knew that a bowl was in order. I've been around Yamagata Prefecture before, just not the main city. Sakata has a famous ramen style (I didn't like it!) that I tried not just once, but twice. They also have famous spicy miso shops in the Prefecture.

Well, the city of Yamagata is known for their cold ramen, especially at Sakeya.

That shop was closed.

Standard tsukemen, open late.

Decent bowls for the late night drinking crowd. If anyone has any advice about this part of Japan, let me know. I found this city dreadfully boring at first glance, but there is usually something awesome in this Japanese minor cities.

Monday, September 17, 2018

潮くろ㐂 (Ushio Kuroki in Akihabara)


Incredible shio ramen, filled with all kinds of seafood.

But before I go further, I have to tell you that this shop is now closed. Kuroki isn't closed, they still operate one of Japan's most revered shio ramen shops, but this particular Friday-only, ocean-inspired ramen is no more.

When I spoke to Kuroki-san, he just said that he will try something new. He also said that he will change his regular shop's recipe drastically. I'm not sure if that was meant to be between myself and him. Don't tell anyone.

So there you go. I apologize that Ramen Adventures has a backlog of around seven months. I've just been crushing too many great bowls and keeping the twice-a-week upload schedule.

The limited bowl here would rotate different shellfish each week.

This time was clam from Northern Japan. Incredible.

To be honest, just go to Kuroki anytime for a great bowl. He always does limited things, and it is always something special The guy is one of Tokyo's biggest ramen masters.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

五福星 (Ufushin in Sendai)


Ufushin was so good, I went twice!

Even though it is technically a pain in the ass to get to for those without a car. From Sendai, take the Namboku subway line to the end. Then walk another 20 minutes to the shop. You could always take taxi.

I have met the master many times in Tokyo. Hayasaka-san is a legend in the ramen world, and has offered support to many top shops. He knows stuff, and his views on health and ramen are substantial.

I didn't realize that the menu was this deep at dinnertime. The ramen is a heavier-than-normal pork soup with options for extra meat and extra local wakame seaweed.

The side menu is all over the place. I was drawn to their jumbo gyoza with a spicy sauce.

Super nice. The master mixes tofu into the gyoza mix, and they instantly become double the size. Nice technique!

The ramen has plenty of seabura back fat, matched with a soup that keeps everything in line. The noodles are made on site. All-in-all one of the best bowls I've had in recent years.

I chatted with Hayasaka-san a bit, and he told me about his 朝ラー. Breakfast ramen. I didn't realize he did this, so I stuck around Sendai an extra day, woke up at 6am, and ventured out, again, to the shop.

This bowl encapsulates his philosophy about ramen. Ramen shouldn't just be food for anytime. Heavy, pork stuff belongs at dinner. Lunchtime is ok for some fat, but it should give you more energy for a productive afternoon. And breakfast should be 100% healthy and mineral rich.

This morning bowl uses unseasoned pork cut from the same batch of chashu that will get seasoned for later service. The soup is very light, and hit with a large amount of mineral-heavy Okinawa sea salt. This salt is something special. You can eat a spoonful of it and not feel like you had too much sodium.

Finally, the highlight is the wakame. Hayasaka-san gets it fresh from the nearby sea. Most wakame is dried and reconstituted. He keeps it at ocean temperature during transport, and stores it in a medical-grade refrigerator at the shop. The temperature never fluctuates.

Superfood in the truest sense of the word.

Oh, be sure to check out the bathroom!

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Website here.

Monday, September 10, 2018

大喜 (Daiki in Akihabara)


Daiki is one of Tokyo's classic shops. I went a few times, back when I dared blog about the same shop twice. It was a solid introduction to simple, classic ramen in one of Tokyo's oldest neighborhoods.

Well, they moved.

What more can I say? This is a classic bowl.

What is there to say about this one? It's clean, smooth, and has a nice umami. It's not part of the mega-refined shoyu styles that are all the rage these days, but it's a must-slurp in my opinion.

Website here.