Thursday, November 29, 2018

麦の道 すぐれ (Sugure in Aichi Prefecture)

つけ麺らーめん専門店 麦の道 すぐれ

Not sure how I stumbled into this spot, but I'm glad I did!

I had work in the area and just set out to see what I could find.

Ichinomiya is only about 20 minutes from central Nagoya by train, but for someone not from the area, it feels like another Prefecture.

Tsukemen, as well as two kinds of ramen, are on offer. Everything looked excellent, but the 小麦の香り濃厚つけ麺 (wheat-smelling thick tsukemen) looked particularly amazing.

Even the condiments looked great. Fresh yuzu juice and homemade dried fish sansho oil.

The soup bowl gets heated directly over the stove.

Bubbling hot, the smells of pork and dried fish hit you hard.

What a gorgeous bowl!

Look at all these delicious meats!

This is the extra meat option and it was actually a bit much for me in the end.

One of the best non-Tokyo bowls I have had this year. Tsukemen is still such an underrated ramen dish, with a few shops getting all the hype. Once you leave Tokyo, though, there are these gems scattered all over the country.

An autographed chair?

Yes, this is the seat that some famous idol sat at. Creeps from around the country can come and sit here as well. You think I'm joking, but having worked with underaged Japanese idols before, I know the truth. Creeps are sure good at creeping!

Tsukemen with the 250 yen 肉のせ option if you want what I had. And though I didn't sign my seat, go ahead and sit on the far right.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Ramen Wakyu in Bangkok, Thailand


I met up with my friend Ren for a bowl at one of his favorite shops in Bangkok, Wakyu.

It may look, sound, and smell like Bangkok.

But this is Japanese ramen.

The owner here hails from Aichi Prefecture in Japan (that's where Nagoya is). He worked at the popular chain Fujiyama55 before helping them with their global domination. After spending some time at one of their Bangkok branches, he went off and opened his own.

The shop pays homage to Nagoya with their Nagoya Soba bowl. It's interesting that they call it Nagoya Soba, when the name is actually Taiwan Soba. I wrote more about this style when I visited the original Taiwan Soba spot Misen. Anyways, ramen naming has no strict rules, so it's all good!

I went with the standard shoyu. It's a classic bowl, and any expat Japanese dudes living in Bangkok would probably hit this up for a taste of home.

Good call Ren!

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Menya Itto in Bangkok, Thailand

Menya Itto

Bangkok, baby!

I was only in town for a few days. Having spent the last week riding offroad motorcycles up in Chiang Mai I needed a few days in a big city to eat good food and drink good drinks. By the way, I made a video in Chiang Mai, but it was one of my worst performing videos of the year. Check it here.

Back in Bangkok, I wanted to try the overseas outlet of Menya Itto. Itto is one of Japan's highest ranked shops and their Shin-Koiwa head shop draws huge lines. This one in downtown Bangkok, not so crowded. Maybe it has to do with their branding as a premium ramen shop in a town where good street food can be had for next to nothing. Truffles and Hokkaido uni. Why not throw some gold on that as well?

I kid, but I often see premium ingredients at ramen shops, especially when I am out of Japan, as a gimmick to get more Instagram photos. I'll stick with the original bowl.

Thank you for the instructions! On a side note, most tsukemen shops in Japan have these instructional sheets as well.

Boom! That's a solid bowl. Tonkotsu gyokai with noodles made in-house and not two or three, but four kinds of meat (notice the chicken meatballs in the soup?).

It looks almost exactly like what they serve in Japan (read my original post here) and tastes great as well. I won't say it is exactly the same, because I don't have the skills to recall exact flavors from one of the many bowls I had in the last few years. I'll just say that it was excellent, and you should hit it up if you are in sweltering Bangkok.

Monday, November 19, 2018

らぁめん りきどう (Rikido in Gifu)

らぁめん りきどう

It isn't often that a ramen shop, far from Tokyo, really blows me away. To be honest, I think Tokyo people are spoiled for choices, and thought there are excellent shops in major cities around Japan, the metropolis city has it made.

Then I have a bowl like this and that theory goes out the window.

The train from Nagoya up to Takayama is beautiful. It follows a river most of the way, and you really feel like you have left the city.

Gifu city isn't on anyone's radar. There are some temples, sure. There is a ruined castle, yes. But with Takayama to the north, and everywhere else to the south, it just isn't a popular destination.

But some ramen nerds had told me about this spot, and I just so happened to be working in Gifu city proper on this day. Rikido is a bit of a walk from the city center, maybe 20 or 30 minutes on foot.

The yellow buttons on the ticket machine are all for tsukemen. Why so many choices? Well, this is a noodle nerd's destination, and each row is a different style.

Thin, thick, flat, and super wide. My choice is clear.

High in kansui, the alkaline water that gives ramen its particular slippery texture. Too much of the stuff, and the noodles can taste soapy. Too little and they lose texture. These were on point.

Th soup is full of thick cut chashu, thick cut menma, and more punch that you would expect from a lighter broth. Most of the popular tsukemen spots do a tonkotsu gyokai creamy-style soup. This one is wafu, Japanese broth to the core.

Eating these can be tough, but you'll figure it out.

They had another bowl with two kinds of noodles, but I really wanted to try these ultra-wide ones. I'll be back, assuming I'm in the area again.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

中野のラーメン女子博 (Ramen Girl's Fest in Nakano)


These events seem to be a dime a dozen these days, but they are still fun none-the-less. The Ramen Girl's Fest pops up all over Japan, so when it had a debut in Nakano, just a few minutes from my home, I was in.

When people ask me which one was the best at these outdoor events, I never want to give an answer. If the weather is nice, and you want some ramen with friends, just go and enjoy. You'll get better ramen at the brick and mortar shop, but you might make some new friends at an event.

Spicy tom yum style.

Excellent mazesoba. Pro tip, the mazesoba at these events is usually quality.

Limited edition stickers are a thing at events these days.

People ask me how they can know about upcoming events. The event page over at the ramen database has a list, though it is in 日本語. Check it here:

Keep an eye on the Ramen Girls website for upcoming events. It looks like this festival will be in both Osaka and Kumamoto in 2018. Website here.

Monday, November 12, 2018

もっこす (Mokkosu in Kobe)


Quick! I made a video!

Mokkosu is one of Kobe's most famous shops. Some 40 years ago, the founder studied at Kyoto's Daiichi Asahi, and brought that classic chukasoba vibe down to Kobe.

Shoyu ramen, thin noodles, copious thinly-sliced chashu.

And plenty of condiments for the top.

Open late, and since Kobe is the home of Japan's biggest criminal syndicate, you'll probably run into a few low level gangsters here. Definitely recommended.