Sunday, October 25, 2020

函館塩ラーメン 五稜郭 (Goryokaku in Ogikubo, Tokyo)

函館塩ラーメン 五稜郭


Hakodate in Hokkaido is known for shio ramen. They are also known for fresh seafood. If you have a chance to visit Hakodate, you should check out their fish market, even though it is quite touristy.

No time to go to Hakodate? You can get some of that Hokkaido goodness down in Ogiukubo, Tokyo at Goryokaku. They make a light shio ramen with Hakodate konbu.

The konbu here is something special. It's called gagome konbu (ガゴメコンブ), and it is only harvested around the Hakodate area. This particular kind of konbu is easily made into tororokonbu, a kind of shredded topping that melts into the soup and becomes quite an umami bomb (and quite slimy).

It's great stuff, but no one will fault you if it isn't your style.

With global climate change, however, the water around the southern edge of Hokkaido has been increasing in temperature over the years, and this konbu is being harvested less and less.

What makes the kelp special? According to konbu experts, the area where the chishima current (千島海流) meets the kuroshio current (黒潮) is very nutrient-rich. There are also many small streams feeding the ocean from the land. And some kind of acidic rock called ryolite (流紋岩) makes for a perfect substrate for this konbu.

My take away? It is damn tasty.

Yet another solid shop in Ogikubo. Check out more shops on Suginami-ku's official English site here.

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Thursday, October 22, 2020

麺家 獅子丸 (Shishimaru in Nagoya)

 麺家 獅子丸

Shishimaru, just next to Nagoya Station, is ranked as one of Tabelog's best 100 ramen shops (well, the best 300 I guess) so checking it out was a no-brainer. Turned out to be quite a nice creamy toripaitan.

This style has recently been labeled espuma-style (エスプーマ系). Maximum frothiness is achieved by hitting the soup with a hand mixer before serving. This serves to aerate the broth and turn it milky white. Some people think it is too much, preferring the traditional creamy paitan soups made by cooking soup on a rolling boil over high heat. I'll take them both.

The coveted 百名店. West Japan gets its own list of 100 shops, with Aichi Prefecture getting nine. When fact-checking, I found that they were given a nod in 2019, but not in 2020. Sorry Shishimaru, I'll still show you love.

They make their noodles in-house using Japanese flour and salt from Okinawa. During one of my stints at the Osaka Ramen School, they explained that the salt used in the noodles doesn't matter; salt dissipates in the water when boiling and only serves the purpose of helping the noodles cook. Anyways, it's nice to see that they spend the extra yen on premium salt.

I got the standard bowl, as I had just crushed another Nagoya bowl of ramen. Shishimaru recommends the zeitakumori (ぜいたく盛り) which comes with roast beef, stewed beef, an egg, and a side dish. Too much food for me!

I should have tried it anyway. The chef has a background in French and Japanese traditional cooking, so it probably would have been tasty. The normal bowl was on point.

Official site here.

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Sunday, October 18, 2020

らぁ麺や 汐そば 雫 (Shizuku in Nagoya)

 らぁ麺や 汐そば 雫

Shizuku (雫 means drop) is a popular shiosoba spot about 20 minutes south of Nagoya Station. The ingredients are all-natural, including the 10 different salts used in the tare seasoning. Specialty chicken and dried fish make up the broth. Noodles made in house. Like most premium shio spots, there is a lot of attention to detail.

I always wonder how shops come up with their many-salt blends. Many ramen shops have a blend of three or four, but 10 is quite outstanding.

The shop also serves shoyu, mazesoba, and tantanmen. I'm guessing the tantanmen is very good, though I personally gravitate towards the spicy Japanese version of tantanmen at shops that already have a good shio or shoyu ramen.

Like many good shops, this one is lunch only.

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