Thursday, December 17, 2020

鬼者語 (Onimonogatari in Tsukuba, Ibaraki)

 つくばらーめん 鬼者語

I dusted off the motorcycle after a winter of very little riding, replaced the battery, and set out for a few days in Ibaraki and Tochigi, the prefectures just to the northeast of Tokyo. There are quite a few highly ranked shops in the area, and most of these are kind of a pain to get to with public transportation. A motorcycle or car is a good call.

Onimonogatari, which means tale of the demon, is one of those highly ranked shops. While many shops in Japan are highly ranked and delicious, only a handful are as unique as this one. The menu, for example, is kind of intense. I first noticed the limited daily menu. Onimonogatari black ramen, Amakusa (天草) tsukemen, lamb and seasonal vegetable something, and today's jibie. Jibie (ジビエ) is taken from the French word for wild game. Deer, boar, bear, who knows what they will have on the menu that day.

The regular menu has three choices. Tori to Mizu (鶏と水) is chicken ramen. Mizu to Niboshi (水と煮干) adds umami from dried fish. Tsukemen, called tsukesoba here, is the third choice. I went with the chicken. This was a seriously tough decision. Those limited bowls looked like winners, but since it was my first time I wanted to try the standard bowl.

A solid choice. I love the lone brussel sprout on top.

Speaking honestly, I've had so many of these high-quality chicken shoyu ramen bowls in the last year that I kind of wish I tried the off-the-wall options. Yes, this bowl was a killer. Yes, you should probably get it. Yes, I want to go back around once a week.

Once I delved into this bowl, though, I was happy to have ordered it. It features Amakusa Daio (天草大王) chicken from Kyushu. This breed was prized for their meat, but due to a low egg count, became nearly extinct during the Showa Era (1926-1989). Thanks to science, they were able to keep it going. These monster chicken grow to around seven kilograms. Amakusa Daio is known for its thick thighs and meaty breasts. Hey, I'm just reading from the PR pamphlet!

I already explained how many choices were on the menu. How about more? When your noodles are done, put in an order for a special kaedama. Extra noodles with a kick. Japanese flavor, boar and duck blood, Genovese basil sauce, or green curry. For the adventurous, there is a Genovese with cheese flambee. 

Again, I wanted to branch out but was saving myself for some other shops.

This shop could only be created by an equally interesting owner. Okubo-san is a former pro boxer. One of his sponsors was a ramen shop, and he became obsessed with the stuff. Eventually, he managed to open Onimonogatari.

Check their Twitter for the latest specials.

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