Sunday, October 11, 2020

総本家 好来道場 (Koraidojo in Nagoya)

総本家 好来道場 

Koraidojo is an epic player in the ramen world. Their style, korai-style (好来系) has given way to around 30 shops. An easy distinction is the use of ko (好) in the name. An example is Koyoken. Deep broth made with chicken, pork, and more vegetables (especially root vegetables) than you often find in ramen. It is often called yakuzen ramen (薬膳ラーメン), meaning medicinal. This is actually a misnomer. In the past, they served actual medicinal ramen but stopped. The name stayed on, and many people (myself included) write that Nagoya's korai-style is some kind of health tincture.

Only open for a few lunch hours a day, run by old men and women, I thought this one would be stuffy and serious. But after a few words with the master, he handed me some mikan oranges to take home.

Koraidojo opened in 1959. The name including the word dojo makes sense. Dozens of wannabe ramen masters came here for their training in the ramen ways. There is a list of some of these shops over on this Japanese site.

Be sure to ask for the tororo konbu (トロロ昆布) topping. It's the koraimen option on the menu. As you slurp, the konbu melts into the soup. The whole thing is rich and hearty. Feel free to add some homemade chili oil or ginseng vinegar to change the taste.

The soup's flavor is dominated by the chicken, but subtle hints of umami from mackerel (ムロアジ) make it something special.

A reason the shop is only open three hours is that all of these already strong flavors become too strong if they simmer for a long time.

When I sat down, the staff handed me a stack of origami paper, most likely meant for children. I quickly folded a crane for them. This earned me a few more mikan oranges to take home.

Be sure to check out some of the books full of old Nagoya photos while you wait.

Regarding the menu, in typical Korai-style you can choose matsu, take, and kotobushi. Matsu (松) is the standard, with the take (竹) meaning extra menma topping. From there the kotobuki (寿) has extra pork. The other items are just combinations of these with more noodles.

Looking over this late, I realize that the far left of the menu is koraimen (好来麺). This means you'll get the konbu topping. I also realized that when I asked the staff directly, after placing my order, they upgraded me for free. I seriously love this spot.

Just remember their three hour opening time could be cut short if they run out of soup.

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