Monday, August 31, 2020

ゲンエイドットワガン (Genei Wagan in Hiro, Tokyo)


Just a few weeks after visiting Mengekijo Genei in Kyushu, I finally made it to their more famous Tokyo shop, Genei Wagan. This shop is famous for a ramen course, costing close to $100. I, however, was here for a TV shoot with Ramen Walker to try a new bowl chef Irie-san had created. The episode was based around their neo tonkotsu ramen, a new style meant to give customers a gourmet taste of the least gourmet style of ramen.

Creamy tonkotsu accented with spiced aroma oil. This bowl was all about balancing flavors. Dubbed NEO-tonkotsu, the idea wasn't to make something brand new but to update traditional Kyushu styles for the modern age. Genei was planing on being flush with tourists during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, and this was going to be their signature dish.

The soup is made from pork cartilage for extra collagen thickness.

That bit of oil on top is a mix of three kinds of numbing peppercorn (Chinese sansho and kasho along with Japanese green sansho). It's a subtle flavor, despite the intensity of the ingredients going in. Spice with thick, fatty pork chashu and creamy soup is a solid match.

I've known about this spot for years, but the idea of a premium $100 ramen course never really appealed. Foodies would keep going, boasting about how the dishes made with premium ingredients like salmon roe, scallops with karasumi (preserved roe), and chashu stewed in jasmine tea were on the level of fine kaiseki cuisine. It just seemed corny. The icing on the cake was when the guys from the Worth It Youtube show went. Their video has close to 30 million views, meaning more tourists. And more tourists means more nonsense. I recently read the ramen chapter in Michael Booth's book The Meaning of Rice, and the whole first paragraph is him bashing both the shop and the chef Irie-san. The shop gets a ding because of the over-the-top atmosphere. Is this a nightclub or a ramen shop? The chef gets it because he poses with his oversized watches for every customer, a trend that has become popular with a few foreigner-centric gourmet spots in Japan (just google Teruzushi or Wagyu Mafia or Salt Bae). I lie somewhere in the middle; I'm not a fan of the Instagram antics, but the ramen was decent and I enjoyed myself.

Yes, I took a photo of him posing with his watches.

In the end, the whole thing is quite interesting and I hope to check out the full ramen course sometime soon. Irie-san is known as a ramen non-conformist (ラーメン界の異端児) so who knows what you'll get!

You can reserve a spot here.

No comments: