Monday, June 17, 2019

おとど餃子食堂 (Otodo Gyoza Shokudo in Yawata, Tokyo)

餃子楼 おとど餃子食堂 本八幡店

The ramen here was great, but you probably won't come here for noodles.

As the name suggests, Otodo Gyoza Shokudo is all about the gyoza. Check out the video!

The quick story is that Otodo in Kasai added gyoza to their ramen menu, then won a TON of awards around Japan for their juicy dumplings. The trick was added pork back fat. When the gyoza fry up, they fat melts and turns into meat juice. Genius.

Here at their recently opened gyoza-only spot, you can get that one plus half a dozen others. Everything is super kodawari, meaning the attention to detail is deep.

By the way, the first time I had these dumplings was back in 2016 when I was filming a TV show with AKB48. What a nostalgic memory. That post is here.

Official site here.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Sakanoue Unique in Kagoshima

Sakanoue Unique

Kagoshima Prefecture is quite massive. Personally, I feel like I've explored my fair share, but when I pull up a map of the place, I realize that isn't the case. And as is the case with most large landmasses, we set our sights on the extremes. The island of Yakushima. The active volcano Sakurajima. Ibuski. The Shibushi Bay.

But some great finds are just a few stations from downtown Kagoshima.

Sakanoue Unique is about 30 minutes by train from central Kagoshima by train. How did I find this gem? To be honest . . . Tinder. Years ago I matched with someone from the area. We never had a chance to meet, but she (I'm assuming her gender wasn't a ruse) told me about this ramen shop in her area. Score (and no score).

The menu has a few choices, but the light chicken ramen seemed the way to go. Not necessarily unique, but solid.

Light and refreshing and kissed with a bit of yuzu citrus. Exceptional slurps.

The menu has a tonkotsu, chukasoba, and sanra style as well. Out here in the sticks, you need a variety. Regulars are common here. I was probably the only one who rolled in unannounced.

Third place in a local ramen contest some years back.

I've long since deleted my Tinder account, but I'm glad I got something good out of it on this particular Kagoshima adventure.

Monday, June 10, 2019

三平らーめん (Sanpei Ramen in Kagoshima)

三平らーめん 照国本店

Road trip to Kagoshima!

Well, not really a road trip per se. I had work in Kagoshima on a Saturday, and work in neighboring Miyazaki on Sunday. Though the work load is light, the travel between hotels is quite far, leaving little in the way of free time. So I cam a day early, and ate a couple bowls of ramen.

Sanpei is one of the area's famous shops. While most shops in Kagoshima serve up budget bowls that I personally think are a bit underwhelming, Sanpei goes all in with a homemade miso base.

Black miso.

According to locl lore, this part of Japan created black miso. It's a blend of a few different Kyushu countryside misos, and has the benefit of being made without all the oil that miso ramen usually has.

Like other "black" bowls (Taiki in Toyama comes to mind), the taste is intense and spiked with black pepper.

Not too intense for me, but it might not be for you. In case you can't tell from the photos, the pork is a thick stewed block of deliciousness.

Official site here.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

麺処 銀笹 (Ginzasa in Ginza)

麺処 銀笹

Ginzasa offers a unique take on ramen.

Luckily, they offer a step-by-step guide on how to eat theirs. In English as well!

The broth is a light deal made with Japanese dashi and flavored with salt. Simple.

They also offer a tsukemen, but the ramen here is the main draw.

When you finish your noodles, order a side of 鯛飯. Taimeshi is a bowl of rice with snapper fish. The ramen bowl is conveniently pourable. Pour some soup into the rice.

It is a novel way to enjoy the soup a bit more. This is called お茶漬け. Ochazuke in Japanese is usually a rice bowl with hot tea poured in, but you can use any kind of broth and still get away with that name.

Rice tends to amplify the umami flavors, and ramen soup in rice has a very different taste than ramen soup with noodles.

Don't forget to add a little aonori and fried garlic.

They have many accolades, but their slightly inconvenient location a few blocks from central Ginza means that you may avoid a line.

Monday, June 3, 2019

大島 味噌ラーメン (Oshima Ramen in Funabori)

大島 味噌ラーメン

Here it is. This is the highest ranked miso ramen in Tokyo.

Can see the shop from the highest viewpoint in Funabori at Tower Hall Funabori's free observation deck?

In pure Hokkaido fashion, they do shio, shoyu, and miso. They also have a 昔風, old-style bowl.

But since this shop is a direct descendent of すみれ, you should probably do miso. Sumire is considered one of Sapporo's best miso ramen restaurants.

The old-style was something I'd never seen before. I was with a friend who wanted to try it, so at least I could have a taste.

Interesting. Very, very light. Not something I would ever order to be honest. But that is the beauty of true Hokkaido ramen shops; shops in the north have variety.

The miso is the star. Heavy, funky stuff that needs a large helping of freshly grated ginger to cut the miso's fermented flavors. It's classic and I loved it.

Is this Tokyo's best miso ramen? Well, it is actually ranked best in the country on the Ramen Databank. Though this site tends to lean towards Tokyo, that isn't a small feat.

Crushed it!

I noticed a mini curry on the menu and had to try it.

Simple Japanese curry rice, made with ramen soup for a bit of underlying flavor. Good stuff!