Monday, July 29, 2019

2019初ラーメン凪 (Nagi New Year Limited Ramen)


Happy New Years!

Every year, if you are stuck in Tokyo for the New Years, you'll have the opportunity to check out Nagi's annual ramen week of limited bowls. This almost always includes a return of Nishio-san's incredible shoyu, as well as a few surprises.

One traditional surprise in Japan is the fukubukuro (福袋). Buy a mystery bag for a few thousand yen, and get prizes worth more than that. What's in a ramen fukubukuro? These had a custom ramen bowl, a t-shirt, some noodles, and spices. Score!

Like I said, Nagi in Shinjuku (Nishishinjuku to be exact) does a few days of ramen to ring in the first few days of January. This first one was 鹿ラーメン, ramen made with deer. Fresh deer meat ramen?!?

Not exactly fresh. This dried deer tendon was perfect for imparting some meaty umami into the soup.

Another great part about these limited offerings, no one really seems to be so serious. The shutter was broken on the shop and remained half-open, the staff was all drinking tequila, and the customers were all regulars.

The next day's ramen was made by Nishio-san himself and featured fried burdock root as a topping. Intense stuff.

To be honest, both bowls were a bit underwhelming, but the ritual of getting up early and walking over to this shop in Nishi-Shinjuku (it isn't far from my house) is a great one. I'm fairly committed to having a stay-cation in Tokyo every year around this time, and ramen is part of the plan.

See you in 2020!

Thursday, July 25, 2019

ソラノイロ年末限定 (End of the Year Ramen at Soranoiro)


Merry Christmas 2018!

Yes, this statement shows that Ramen Adventures' posts are quite far behind. With this particular post scheduled to go live on July 25th, 2019, that is almost a full seven months.

Shoganai, as this site is only updated twice a week, things are bound to get backed up.

At the end of the year in Japan, many businesses expectedly close for the holidays. Ramen shops often do the opposite, taking the time to create limited edition bowls for those left with few options for dining in Japan.

Soranoiro chose to greet the cold months with Okinawan sokisoba. Feels like paradise!

Sokisoba is ramen from Okinawa. I shouldn't say "ramen," as the locals specifically avoid that word when referring to their regional noodle dish. Sokisoba is more of an udon. Maybe. It's tough to compare it with any other noodle dishes in Japan.

To see the real deal, check my post from the source.

Clear, fishy soup topped with a slab of bone-in pork. The word ソーキ, soki, is a name for this piece of pork spare rib. It's stewed in a soy sauce mix for hours until tender. A stark contrast to the light broth. Typical of sokisoba, the noodles are quite flat.

Be sure to go sparingly on the hot sauce. 島とがらし like this is made by filling a bottle with high-impact chili peppers and 70 proof local grain alcohol called awamori. The alcohol is, well, alcohol, and a shot of the stuff is, well, a shot of the stuff.

Monday, July 22, 2019

麦苗X清乃 (1-Day Collaboration Ramen from Muginae and Seino)

麦苗 X 清乃

Two of the top Japanese shops. One collaboration. Yes, please.

Seino is consistently ranked number one in Japan. Muginae is consistently ranked number one in Japan. To have these two shops collab for a single bowl or ramen is special indeed. Wakayama meets Tokyo. For one afternoon only.

The list of ingredients is deep. You ready?

Tokyo gamecock. Local chicken from Kinokuni (紀の国地鶏) and Yamagata (山形地鶏). Wakayama area duck (紀州鴨).  Konbu from Rausu (羅臼昆布) in Hokkaido. Kagoshima bonito. Wheat from both Hokkaido and Kagawa. Wild boar from Wakayama. Tokyo X pork. Daikon (both red and white) from Wakayama. Eggs from Arida in Wakayama.

Yeah, this one was something special.

I love how they served the meat alongside the ramen, keeping the bowl devoid of any color but savory-brown.

Yeah, one of the best bowls I've ever had, but this level of luxury comes at a price. At 1800 yen, this one wasn't cheap. I'm sure they weren't turning a large profit either.

Muginae prides themselves on their fresh fish rice bowls, so of course, a special one was on offer. Wakayama しらす whitebait and salmon eggs. 

At the end of the calendar year, ramen shops do a lot of limited bowls and collabs. If you are lucky enough to be here at that time, so a little research and find out who is doing what. You'll be in for a treat.

Muginae original post here.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

護摩龍 (Gomaryu Hell Ramen in Gotanda)

地獄の担担麺 護摩龍 五反田

Welcome to spice hell!

Just grab a spoon out of the last customer's leftover skull.

This tantanmen is no joke, though the laughing skulls on top of the ticket machine might think the whole ordeal is hilarious.


Hell-style tantanmen.

I think I got to level 3. To be honest, my tolerance for heat isn't so great. I'm strictly middle of the road. Keep anything above a jalapeno away from my sensitive mouth.

That said, this was in no way a medium level of spice. Every bite burned. But I tolerated it, and though the next day wasn't one I want to remember, the rest of the present day was kissed by the tinge of a capsacium high.

Be sure to temper the leftover soup with some white rice. The natural creaminess of it mellows the fire a touch.

Official site here.

Monday, July 15, 2019

銀座八五 (Ginza Hachigo in Ginza, Tokyo)

中華そば 銀座八五

The new kid on the block is Hachigo in Ginza. Just a short walk from the station. In case you didn't know, Ginza closes their main drag to cars on the weekend, letting pedestrians take to the famous street. You can stroll around as you like. You don't even need to buy any Mikimoto pearls or Fendi bags.

Yes, Ginza can be pricey. When Hachigo opened, they opened with a simple concept. The name is simple; hachi (eight) go (five). Once you see the menu you might understand. The ramen here is only 850 yen. Very high-quality ramen at a very good price.

They also have a 3000 yen seasonal bowl, though half a year after opening they still haven't been able to produce.

At this price point, you would expect something basic. Basic is as far from the result as possible.

Ramen hospitality. Hachigo makes a bowl without tare, the seasoning liquid that is usually a key ingredient in ramen. They opt for French salt instead. I've never known any other shops to make ramen like this; tare is the "secret" ingredient that makes high-end ramen shops stand out.

The stock is a meaty mix of chicken and duck, with accents from shellfish and ham.

Topped with a beautiful slice of chashu pork. All for 850 yen.

Expect lines. People line up, in the rain, an hour or so before they open. The hype may have died down since they opened in December of 2018, but you'll likely wait.


Thursday, July 11, 2019

せんだが家 (Sendaga-ya Mazesoba in Shinjuku, Tokyo)

せんだが家 まぜそば

I visited this newish mazesoba spot to film for YouTube. Three Minute Ramen!

Well, this idea of doing short, 3-minute videos on my YouTube channel was a failure. I blame the algorithm. Once I started doing shorter content, my views went from upwards of 50,000 views per video to around 5000 views per video. People in the know say that the YouTube algorithm, the function that suggests and automatically plays videos for users, now wants videos that are more than 10 minutes in length. So no more short videos.

Soupless mazesoba four ways. Aka, shiro, ki, and tsumi. 赤、白、黄、罪. Red, White, Yellow, and . . . sin?

Red must be spicy. In this case, it is similar to the Nagoya Taiwan style mazesoba.

White uses a homemade seasoning liquid, chashu, and raw egg. It's a mild choice.

Yellow is a curry thing.

Sin is garlic and fat. Jiro-style.

The shop has a chill vibe with tables, alcoholic drinks, and appetizers. Take your time.

The red is the one to get. A little spice, cubed chashu pork, and enough green onion to cover half the bowl. This is the style made famous by Hanabi in Nagoya and served all over the place these days. Soupless noodles are a trend, especially among overseas ramen lovers. I can see why; mix-em-up noodles are the ultimate junk food.

Add a little white rice at the end to sop up the extra sauce.

Crushed it!

Solid snack.

More drinks.

More snacks. This is a fun spot that just so happens to be a block from the reformed Olympic stadium. I tried to get tickets via the Japan-residents lottery but was denied. If anyone wants to take me to the opening ceremony, I'll treat you to a bowl and drinks here after!