Thursday, August 15, 2019

麺屋ぬかじ (Menya Nukaji in Shibuya, Tokyo)


Good old Shibuya. This part of town is one of the most popular in town, and I'm often asked for recommendations. To be honest, I could only recommend Hayashi, a lunch-only spot on the south side of the station.

Until now.

Nukaji is a decent tsukemen spot, they serve craft beer, and they are smack in the middle of all the fun.

Go spicy, and go with the Minoh beer.

Standard tsukemen, smoky and deep in dried fish flavors. If you want a bit more, add in their sanma dashi soy sauce, a seasoning made with Pacific saury.

Minoh Beer from Osaka is instantly recognizable with their bold labeling. Their IPAs and stouts are my personal favorites, though I generally don't drink beer with ramen. One comes before the other, in whatever order you like.

Located near the place that got famous for the most horrible looking Chicago pizza on earth.

Monday, August 12, 2019

銀座 篝 (Kagari in Ginza, Tokyo)

銀座 篝 本店

Kagari is back!

I've been there many times in the past. I've filmed for TV shows there. I loved it.

Then it got the hype. Not just a few tourists in the know, but full-on blown up. Suddenly, the 20-minute wait turned into 40, turned into an hour or two. It was absurd. It was also all tourists. I'd put the blame on those who recommended this shop in writing in famous magazines, namely Ivan Orkin and myself, but the lines were 80% Chinese. While I think I understand where most Westerners get their food news from, I have no idea about Asia.

The original shop was only six seats. It made sense that this model wouldn't hold, and the shop eventually closed. Fast forward some months (years?) later, and the new shop holds more like 20. Progress.

The menu is similar but different. The creamy toripaitan soup is still there, along with a version topped with truffle oil. Personally, I really dislike this sort of thing. The intention is transparent; truffle oil gets you a Michelin star. Two of the three ramen shops with Michelin stars incorporate truffle oil, one of the worst ingredients known to man, into their soup. Any subtle flavor is lost, drowned by what I think tastes like dirt. But dirt sells. Dirt is high amongst ramen SEO terms.

Back on track, the normal toripaitan is still tasty. The old shop had a topping option of extra seasonal vegetables, which is gone now, but the standard bowl has a few more greens than the average bowl of ramen. Get it with an egg and top it with a bit of everything available on the countertop.

The line moves fast these days. Keep in mind that this shop is next door to Kazami, and I have noticed that many people who don't speak Japanese accidentally visit Kazami instead of Kagari, or Kagari instead of Kazami without realizing their mistake. Both shops are good, so it's a fun little lost-in-translation moment.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

銀座ル・コチア (Le Kochia Truffle Noodles in Ginza, Tokyo)


Gourmet ramen isn't really a thing. Ramen should be affordable and casual. For this reason, you rarely see premium ingredients like truffle or foie gras. Here at Le Kochia, you see both.

The third floor of a random building in Ginza, the fancy part of town. There are many, many secret gourmet spots on random floors in Ginza.

Le Kochia is a French restaurant that specializes in truffles. It isn't insanely expensive, like many other Ginza high-end dining spots, but it ain't cheap. Dinner courses start at 7000 yen, with the full deal going for 15,000 yen.

When I heard about their lunch, ramen topped with truffles, I expected at least 3000 yen, maybe more. At only 1800 yen, this one is actually quite approachable. Feel free to add on some foie gras or roasted duck breast, or stick with the basic version.

Finished with some heavy cream.

I'd go here again someday without hesitation. The chef was friendly, the food excellent, and it wasn't crowded at all. Sure, the fancy ingredient aspect is a deterrent for some ramen heads, but variety is key with this kind of cuisine.

Official site here.

Monday, August 5, 2019

ヌードル マイスター 源九 (Noodle Meister Genk in Jimbocho, Tokyo)

ヌードル マイスター 源九|神保町/九段下 ラーメン

Genk? What kind of name is that?

源 - Gen
九 - Ku


A new shop on the shoyu niboshi scene.

There are quite a few shops serving this style these days. Rich soy sauce hit with dried sardines for an umami boost. Thick-cut tender chashu. Raw onion topping.

I'm the wrong person to ask about this style. I really don't like the raw onion. I'll eat around it, and hopefully, by the end of the bowl, the white bits have softened and sweetened. The soup, sans tamanegi, was quite nice though.

Egg on point.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Bonito Soup Noodle RAIK Fugu Ramen

Bonito Soup Noodle RAIK

Fugu, the deadliest of fish. A single drop of poison from the pufferfish will send you into anaphylactic shock. Every year people die from this assassin of the sea.

ふぐの潮そば. Fugu salt ramen. Let's do this.

Around 120kg of fugu bones for this pot of soup. A thin slice of fugu sashimi and a special fugu shirako sauce added to the fugu-ness. Shirako is the sperm sack of certain fish, and it is a delicacy in Japan. Fugu shirako especially; it is something you only find for a month or two a year.

This was a special New Years ramen from RAIK. The shop is focused on fish ramen, so a limited bowl using an unusual ingredient is to be expected.

Great stuff. Kissed with yuzu. I'd try it again if I could, but I can't.

Keep an eye on their Instagram for the latest news on their limited bowls.