Monday, November 25, 2019

つけ麺 繁田 (Shigeta in Kobe, Hyogo)

つけ麺 繁田

I never know where to eat in Kobe, so I just brought up the local rankings. Shigeta was at the top spot when I went. The shop has been open since December of 2015. 

As expected, there is a bit of a line.

Tsukemen, tsukemen with an egg, tsukemen with extra pork. The shop's master, Shigeta-san, considers the noodles to be the main dish, and the soup is just something extra to complement them. Tsukemen is the perfect dish to accentuate noodles.

Beautiful, beautiful pork. The chashu on this one is exquisite. Both the sous vide chicken and tender pork. Excellent. Again, just something to highlight the noodles.

Homemade noodles are thick and wheaty. Be warned that the soup is intense. Pork with massive amounts of dried fish flavors. A tiny sliver of yuzu citrus peel gives some respite from the overbearing nature of this bowl.

The shop also offers a mazesoba that looked particularly tasty. The master's future goals are to open a ramen shop and a mazesoba-only shop, so keep this one in your sights.

Official Facebook here.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

自家製麺うろた (Urota Homamade Noodles in Fukushima)


Yup, it's ramen.

I'll admit it, I came here for this one in particular. Most customers are going with one the shop's standard bowls, but the artistic nature of this colorful bowl couldn't be passed up. Jackson Pollock on a plate.

Each paint is made from natural ingredients. Green spinach, yellow kabocha pumpkin, black squid ink. Though the individual flavors get lost in the mix, I appreciate the effort.

The base of this one was a sesame-heavy tantanmen with miso and milk. They served it with a side of Death hot sauce, which basically ruined the entire bowl. At least I got a good two thirds down before that happened.

ペイントクレイジーミルク味噌ラーメン on the menu if you are curious. There are honestly about 20 other menu items, like a shio ramen made with five kinds of shellfish, an oyster sauce soupless ramen, and a karasumi shoyu ramen. A return is in order.

I enjoyed this one. Not a gimmick at all.

Official Twitter here.

Monday, November 18, 2019

さんわ (Sanwa in Ehime)

さんわ 伯方島本店

Forgive the iPhone SE photos. I was traveling light this time.

From Onomichi in Hiroshima Prefecture to Imabari in Ehime Prefecture there is something magical. The Shimanami Kaido is a dedicated cycling route. It crosses seven bridges, six islands, and enough scenery to warrant a nice camera.

Which I didn't bring.

The cycling route is around 60 kilometers in length. Personally, I found it very easy, though each bridge is preceded by a 1.5 kilometer, 7% grade incline. If this is tough for you, you'll have a challenge ahead. That shouldn't dissuade you, though. The bicycles are only about 1000 yen a day to rent, and you can drop them off at the end for a one-way adventure.

A Ramen Adventure! I'm loving the custom cycling jersey. In the center is my friend Mr. T, who runs a fishcake factory on Oshima, the island in the background. Dave is on the right. My college roommate and a great friend. Two other dudes didn't want to wear their jersey on the second day, so they don't get to be in the shot.

At around kilometer 45, you can make a detour to visit the area's most famous ramen shop. Sanwa is a no-brainer for me.

Local shio ramen.

Family-run for decades, they make a bowl that parallels the local Seto Inland Sea. Dried sakuraebi shrimp, slivers of local fishcake, and a light salt-based broth.

If you are doing the cycling route, keep in mind that this is a detour towards the later part of the cycling trip. People will be tired and possibly cranky. Forcing them to add ten kilometers is a tough sell. There's also a slight 75-meter elevation gain along the detour. Despite the constant views, it was a struggle.

If you do this route, I would suggest staying on Oshima at my friend's ryokan. It's here:

You could even take a ferry from near the ramen shop to Oshima, thus skipping the hill leading up to the bridge.

Official site here.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Ramen and Kakigori at Florilège in Tokyo


Florilège is a French / Japanese restaurant with two Michelin stars, a healthy spot on the World's 50 Best, and a solid waiting list for reservations. I think it is one of the best spots in Tokyo for a gourmet lunch, which will cost you somewhere around 15,000 yen if you go for a wine pairing. Sure, that is out of the budget for many people, but maybe for a special occasion. The food is quite nice.

Being such a famous shop, chef Kawate-san is often out of town doing collaborations with other stars of the gastronomy world. Instead of leaving the restaurant vacant for those days, the staff take over and do their own thing. One of those things is ramen and kakigori.

This time the ramen was simple dashi, homemade noodles, and a little escargot butter to make it fancy. A very nice bowl.

And then the kakigori. Kakigori is Japanese shaved ice. If you follow my IG, you know I like the stuff. If you shy away from sweets, but love fruit and tea flavors, you can find heaven in kakigori. Clouds of ice topped with fresh seasonal fruits.

Mugwort and Hassaku citrus. Rhubarb and sakura, a slightly salty flavoring. Red sake lees and white miso. Everyone's favorite strawberry. White cacao with butterbur.

With a friend, we tried the red sake kasu and miso, the sakura rhubarb, and the white cacao. What would you go for?

Official site here. Keep an eye on their Instagram account to see if they will do ramen again.