Welcome to my ramen dream... Currently being interpreted in Ramen Burger Land... Looking for a good slurp? Email me ! - Keizo

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ichiran Canal City Hakata (一蘭 キャナルシティ博多店) - Hakata-ku, Fukuoka, Japan (Kyushu)

If you thought the highlight of Canal City was the 5th floor Raumen Stadium...think again. Ichiran's flagship ramen-ya located on the 1st floor screams greatness in the most peaceful fashion. From the unique private individual stalls to the highly customized ordering system, the Canal City location is the only one to feature the black coffin-like bowls, otherwise known as "Juubako." The very smooth tonkotsu soup takes on a tangy, yet spicy, flavor when mixed with the special red sauce. It's to die for, hence the coffin-like bowls (I made that up). So the next time you're searching for ramen in Hakata's Canal City, try not to overlook the first floor.

From Hakata Station head West on the main street. Stay to your right as the street splits and make a left at the 7-Eleven (the 2nd one). Then make a quick right and you should see an entrance to Canal City next to the Washington Hotel. Head to the 1st floor. Open everyday from 10am to midnight. Ordering may be a bit difficult for the first timer, but they have plenty of guides in English that show you how to do it. Don't be afraid to ask for help.

Other sites that mention Ichiran Canal City:
Video from YouTube via amanoobune2000:

Monday, June 29, 2009

Thank You Wonton Forest!

I'd like to take a break from my recent series of posts to say thank you and goodbye to what quickly became my favorite local hangout. As you may already know, Wonton Forest sadly closed its doors today. With amazing wontons, refreshing soup, and the coolest staff, it's very hard to believe that this day has come. But what can you do. Blame it on location, blame it on the economy, blame it on the rain, blame it on whatever you want. Good food or not, the people just didn't come.

I first came here last November right after I had completed that crazy Foo-Foo Challenge. It was then that I learned Chef Paul and I shared a mutual friend from college. Wonton Forest soon became my Cheers. It was on my way home from work and I soon found myself stopping by 2-4 times a week. The food was great and the friendships I formed with the staff were priceless.

I first posted about WoFo on a popular food site. I won't say whiCH one, but I was soon banned from making any comments related to Wonton Forest. Yeah, their reason (sent to me in a f'd up email) was because I was too close to the owners and my opinions were now biased. Flattered, I decided never to use that site again.

In recent weeks, Paul gave me a chance to work at WoFo so I could experience first hand a day in the life of a small restaurant. He had me cutting green onions, shredding chicken, mincing pork, taking orders, bussing tables, washing dishes, and more. I got to see the frustrations that come with being slow and the stresses that come with being busy. Overall, it gave me a totally different view of things and much more respect for what small local restaurants and their owners go through everyday. You're right Paul, it's bitter sweet!

So before I get too emotional, I just want to say thanks to everyone at Wonton Forest. Thanks for putting up with all my drama and thanks for being there to share my joys. And even though you'll be replaced by a ramen shop, it's never gonna be the same. Good luck to everyone, especially Paul and Sarah. I know you'll be back!

Now let's go finish off the rest of the Jack!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Raumen Stadium 2 (ラーメンスタジアム2) - Canal City, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka, Japan (Kyushu)

When you think of "rasta" what comes to mind? Okay, sure Jamaica does, but no! Rasta is short for Raumen Stadium 2! From the same group that brought us the Shinyokohama Raumen Museum, Raumen Stadium 2 is the southern island's version. With 8 different shops from around the country rotating every now and then, it is definitely one of THE "must-visit" ramen attractions of Japan. But then again, Hakata itself is a "must-visit" ramen attraction.

From Hakata Station head West on the main street. Stay to your right as the street splits and make a left at the 7-Eleven (the 2nd one). Then make a quick right and you should see an entrance to Canal City next to the Washington Hotel. Head to the 5th floor. Open everyday from 11am to 11pm.

Other sites that mention Raumen Stadium 2:

Hakata Tsukemen Gensuke (博多つけ麺 元助) - Canal City, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka, Japan (Kyushu)

A wise ramen adventurer once said: "all these tsukemen shops taste the same to me." Quite frankly, I'd have to agree. Even at Gensuke, a so-called Hakata-style shop, I felt like I was back in Tokyo at one of the popular tsukemen joints. Don't get me wrong, the Tokusei Tsukemen here at Gensuke is bomb, but I wasn't sure what "Hakata-style" really added to it or took away from it. Nevertheless, I was happy and satisfied with their Tonkotsu/Gyoukai soup and thick, chewy noodles.

From Hakata Station head West on the main street. Stay to your right as the street splits and make a left at the 7-Eleven (the 2nd one). Then make a quick right and you should see an entrance to Canal City next to the Washington Hotel. Head to the Raumen Stadium on the 5th floor. Open everyday from 11am to 11pm.

Other sites that mention Hakata Gensuke Canal City:

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ganso Nagahamaya (元祖長浜屋ラーメン) - Chuo-ku, Nagahama, Fukuoka, Japan (Kyushu)

Ganso means originator, but to ramen geeks it means da sh**! And Ganso Nagahamaya is just that. After being raised mostly on Tokyo-style shoyu ramen, I really underestimated the goodness of Hakata/Nagahama-style tonkotsu. I was pleasantly surprised how smooth and light the pure pork-bone soup actually tasted. It was awe-inspiring. Even the massive amounts of msg had no ill-effects. Perhaps it was the balancing effects of the shōga (ginger). There's also some tare on the table to enhance the soup even more, but use it sparingly. Ramen is 400 yen and kaedama is another 100. That's like a total of $5. It was definitely one of the cheapest bowls I encountered on my trip. If you're in the area, don't miss it!

From Hakata Station take the Kūkō Line to Akasaka Station and it's about a 10-minute walk from there. Head North for 3 blocks, make a left and walk around the slight bend. You'll eventually see it on your right. Stand in line and order from the ticket machine. Try not to waste too much time at the machine cuz the line moves fast. Stand at the door and wait to be called. After sitting down, give the server your ticket and wait patiently. If you ordered kaedama, give the server that ticket AFTER you finish the first batch of noodles. Yell out the firmness to get their attention. For example: "katamen!!"

Other sites that mention Ganso Nagahamaya:
Video from YouTube via KyushuWalkerCH:

Kurume Taiho (大砲ラーメン 本店) - Kurume, Fukuoka, Japan (Kyushu)

No please I like that finger...how else will I do my Dr. Evil impression?

Okay...so it wasn't quite that dramatic, but I thought it might have come down to it if I didn't stop taking pictures of the place. Anyway, Kurume Taiho is like the capitol of ramen in Kyushu. My first sip had me saying "Kurume Taiho~~ly sh** this stuff is good!!" Seriously folks, Taiho is legit. The creaminess of the tonkotsu soup is indescribable and my mouth is watering just thinking about it. The gyoza may not have been that great, but the ramen was incredible. I'd gladly give up a finger for a bowl like this again.

It's about a 10-minute walk from Nishitetsukurume Station...I think. But if you can get to Kurume Station, just take a taxi. You'll thank me later. Open from 11am to 9pm and closed every 2nd and 4th Thursday. You are only allowed to take pictures of the food, but there are ways to get around that...hehe.

Other sites that mention Kurume Taiho Honten:

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Komurasaki Honten (こむらさき 本店) - Kumamoto City, Kumamoto, Japan (Kyushu)

With only an hour to spare in Kumamoto, I was determined to stop at one ramen-ya and one ramen-ya only. That shop just happened to be one of Kumamoto's best--Komurasaki. With over 50 years of experience, they will not open unless the soup is perfect. A whitish, cloudy tonkotsu is their staple and the Osama Ramen is their most popular. The garlic chips give the rather light soup some extra zest and slurping the thin noodles is a breeze.

You can take the streetcar from Kumamoto Station, but I'm not sure where to get off and you're still gonna have to walk a few blocks anyway. My advice: Take a taxi. Open from 11am to 7:30pm and closed every Tuesday.

Other sites that mention Komurasaki Honten:

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ramen Kimura (ラーメンきむら 大淀店) - Miyazaki City, Miyazaki, Japan (Kyushu)

Ramen Kimura had something I've never seen before. True...I've never seen their ramen, but that's not what I'm talking about. I am referring to a garlic shoyu concoction that had me and a couple friends fearing for our lives...j/k. But seriously, Dracula wouldn't even be able to resist this stuff. Adding a dab to the ramen will most likely lead to another dab. The ramen itself is a light tonkotsu so the garlic shoyu provides a welcome enhancement. Another plus was the chashu. Ohhh...the chashu. Moist and flavorful, you'll curse at yourself for not ordering the Chashu Ramen. I did.

If you start at Miyazaki Station, take the Nippou Main Line to Minamimiyazaki Station. From there head West and walk along the main street for about 10-minutes. When you get to the 3-way intersection, cross the street and you'll see it on your right. Open from 11am to 9:30pm and closed on Wednesdays.

Other sites that mention Ramen Kimura:

Monday, June 22, 2009

Hibiki (九州宮崎ラーメン響) - Miyazaki City, Miyazaki, Japan (Kyushu)

If you're looking for good ramen in Miyazaki, you may have to travel outside of the main city. Sure there's a few here or there within the city, but I was told one of the best is called Hibiki. Undeterred by the distance, I got in a friends car and just drove. Hibiki is now a chain ramen-ya with several locations outside of the country, but the original location is still very popular with the locals. The ramen here is tonkotsu-based with a hint of shoyu. In other words, it's good with a hint of great. The egg and the chashu are downright dreamy but unfortunately, the noodles are simply ordinary.

It's more than a bit far from any station. You're best bet is to go by car, although I still won't be able to tell you how I got there. Hopefully, the map below will help. They are closed on Wednesday's.

Other sites that mention Hibiki:

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Garufu Ramen (我流風ラーメン 本丸店) - Kagoshima City, Kagoshima, Japan (Kyushu)

Kagoshima is known for their Kurobuta (Berkshire Pork). So when I was lazily walking around the Tenmonkan shopping street one Spring afternoon, I couldn't help but notice a delectable-looking Kurobuta Ramen at a place called Garufu. I was semi-full at the time, but the wax bowl in the window kept calling my name and the two hanjuku eggs were staring straight at me. So I had to enter. OMG! Oh My Garufu! The oils from the kurobuta mixed in with the tonkotsu soup was heartstoppingly paralyzing. If this ramen had a weakspot, it would be in the noodles, but seriously, the kurobuta was incredible! And those eggs...speechless.

From Kagoshimachuo Station jump on one of the trolleys headed for the Tenmonkan Street. There should be a Tenmonkan trolley station. Get off there and head left (Northwest). After one block make a left and you'll see Garufu on your left. Head inside, order from the ticket machine and be seated. They're open from 11am to 9pm everyday.

Other sites that mention Garufu Honmaru-ten:

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Wadaya Ramen (和田屋ラーメン 西駅店) - Kagoshima City, Kagoshima, Japan (Kyushu)

Wadaya Ramen was an interesting experience. It was the first time I ever stepped foot on Kyushu soil and took a deep breath of volcanic ash. And as a means of just escaping to find some sort of clean air, Wadaya was my savior. The ramen here is a bit different from the deep porkiness of the other southern cities. It's light and topped with plenty of moyashi and kikurage. The noodles are a bit softer too. Odd as it was, I liked it. Even the creepy Egor-like voice of the ramen chef was strangely soothing.

From Kagoshima-Chuo Station make a left and head North past Amu Plaza. When you reach the end of the car loop you should see an alley called Nishiginza Street. Continue walking and you'll see Wadaya on your left.

Other sites that mention Wadaya Ramen Nishi-Ekiten:

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Naga Naga Ramen - Pasadena, CA

On my drive back from meeting rameniac at the new Naga Naga Ramen in Pasadena, I began to daydream. Whatever was in that soup, it made me want to write a spoof of Top Gun based solely on ramen. Of course it would be called Top Ramen, but everything would be pronounced phonetically using Japanese syllables. So, in actuality it would be called Toppu Ramen. I even detailed the perfect cast in my mind. Rameniac would play Maburiku (Maverick), edjusted would play Goosoo (Goose), I would play Aisu Man (Ice Man), Brian would play Suraidaa (Slider), Nate would play Maalin (Merlin), Pepsi Monster would play Jestaa (Jester), Dennis would play Vwipaa (Viper), BB would play Chaalee (Charlie), and Paul could play Meg Ryan's part. Haha..no offense. And Exile Kiss, don't think I forgot about ya. You could play Holleewuddo (Hollywood). I arrived home before I could lay out the main plot so maybe I'll finish it after my next visit. Or not...

"I feeru za needo...Za needo for MSG!"
(If I've offended you by your inclusion, I apologize. Have your agent contact me asap.)

Anyway, I guess I was trying to convey that I wasn't really impressed by "Long Long" Ramen. To me, it was a cross between Noodle World and Ajisen. You can be the judge of that statement. There was a definitive Thai influence throughout the menu so I may possibly come back to try the Tomyum "Revolutionary" Ramen someday cuz it looked good. The Naga Naga Ramen that I had today was supposed to be Tonkotsu, but it lacked porkiness. Yeah I know, it didn't make any sense to me either. The chashu tasted like ham or canadian bacon and the menma was a bit tough. The noodles were decent...sort of. I used to live in Pasadena and would always hope for a true ramen-ya to arrive in Old Town. Sadly, this isn't the true ramen-ya that I was expecting. Maybe I don't regret moving after all.

49 E. Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91105
(626) 585-8822
Hours: Unknown

Ramen California - Torrance, CA

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls...we finally have a reason to be excited about ramen in LA!

After spending a month experiencing the many different styles of ramen in Japan, it's only natural that a new style would someday emerge and shock the ramen world. So without further ado, I am beside myself when I tell you that THAT day has come. Led by Shigetoshi Nakamura, THE Shigetoshi Nakamura (if you don't know who he is you soon will), the newest ramen style to emerge and blast onto the scene is Ramen California. Granted it's not your normal ramen-ya, but what the heck is a "normal" ramen-ya anyway. Ramen is always changing, adapting, evolving, and taking shape to whatever region it resides in. That's precisely why a bowl in Hokkaido can be drastically different from a bowl in Kyushu and still be considered ramen. Yes, this might take some getting used to, but it's here...and there's no other person that I see more fit to be at the helm than Nakamura-san himself. He is an inventor, a visionary, a culinary genius with all the skills to back it up. The ingredients are amazingly fresh and the flavor combinations are ridiculously creative. I'm telling you...we finally have a reason to be excited about ramen in LA!

Check out rameniac's excellent review for more info. He does a great job (as always) of breaking everything down into a stimulating read. Like he says, Ramen California is still in their soft-opening phase so expect a lot of changes to the menu in the coming weeks. I'll also be going back many, many times so expect some more updates to the slideshow above. Ramen California is located where Chabuya used to be, but don't expect it to succumb to the same fate. I have a good feeling that this will work and Ramen California will be a success! And I'll be ready to eat my words if it doesn't. "Bon Appetit!"

24231 Crenshaw Blvd. Unit C
Torrance, CA 90505
tel: (310) 530-2749
fax: (310) 530-4318
Tuesday through Sunday, closed Mondays
Lunch: 11:30am to 2:30pm
Dinner: 5:30pm to 10:00pm

(A shoutout to rameniac and exile kiss for joining me tonight.)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Syuri Seimen (おきなわすば 首里製麺) - Suginami-ku, Tokyo, Japan

If you're ever in Tokyo and feel like a taste of Okinawa without actually leaving Tokyo, then Okinawa Town is the place to go. And Syuri Seimen is the place to try Okinawa Suba (or Soba). It's not actually ramen, but it's pretty darn close. With homemade noodles, two types of soup, and even a lucky lion statue that promises a lifetime of happiness, Syuri Seimen is a great place to enjoy the fresh Okinawan ingredients while getting hammered off some Okinawan Sake.

Take the Keio Line to Daitabashi Station. Walk North to the main street and you should be able to see the Okinawa Town entrance on the other side. Cross over using the pedestrian bridge and head down the Okinawa Town street. It'll be on your left. They open from 11:30am to 3pm at lunch and 5pm to 11pm for dinner. Closed on Wednesdays.

Other sites that mention Syuri Seimen:

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hayashi (らーめん はやし) - Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan

Hayashi has consistently been atop the various ramen rankings for a couple years now and there's no doubt it's gained a popular local following. Be warned that it's more on the fishy side, but it's frickin good nonetheless. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. The chashu...oooh! The hanjuku aji tamago...oooh! And the smooth kotteri shoyu soup will leave you saying "ohhh yeah!" Guaranteed!

About a 5-minute walk from Shibuya Station. Take the Tokyu Plaza exit and head along Chuo-dori. It's close by so just keep circling the blocks if you can't find it. They are only open for four hours each day from 11:30am to 3:30pm. Closed on Sundays and holidays. Wait in line, buy a ticket from the machine, and grab the next open seat.

Other sites that mention Ramen Hayashi:

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Takekuma (中国料理 たけくま) - Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan

Sometimes a good Tan Tan Ramen is all you crave and Takekuma is there to satisfy. The restaurant is a tad fancier than what I'm used to, but not everywhere serves Tan Tan Ramen, Hot & Sour Ramen, and Tanmen that all taste good. Takekuma fills up fast with Japanese businessmen during the lunch hour so try to get there at exactly 11:30am. And I've heard that they only serve ramen for lunch so if you go for dinner and they don't have it...it ain't my fault.

Take the Tokyo Metro to either Akasaka Station (Chiyoda Line) or Tameike-Sannō Station (Ginza Line, Namboku Line). I don't remember the exact directions from there so I hope the map below helps. It appears easier to get to if you go from Akasaka Station. The actual shop is hidden, but look out for a white sign that says Takekuma. You'll see it hanging in front of the building. Open for lunch from 11:30am to 2:30pm. Open for dinner from 5:30pm to 10:30pm. Closed on Sundays.

Other sites that mention Chinese Restaurant Takekuma:

Breaking Ramen News: Daikokuya opening in Hacienda Heights...

As I was driving down Gale from Foo-Foo Tei to Wonton Forest this evening, I just happened to look up and see a big yellow sign that said 大黒家 (Daikokuya). So this is where it is, I thought. Wow, this could create some serious competition for Foo-Foo Tei and Tamaya. Let the best ramen win!

A quick glance inside showed me that they're really close to being able to open soon. I can't wait!! Hopefully, I'll get a invite to their soft opening this time (hint, hint) and not get kicked out like at the MP location. Otherwise I might just have to use my rameniac connections...haha.

It's on Gale East of Hacienda Blvd and across from Ojiya.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Dōtonbori Kamukura (どうとんぼり神座 渋谷店) - Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan

Location, location, location, and a sheer abundance of ramen on the menu (30 to be exact) could be the very reason Dōtonbori Kamukura is always packed. In the heart of Shibuya littered with flashy signs and a quirky guide to enjoying the taste (just ask Brian), the interior felt oddly like a kaiten-sushi restaurant. I guess because it was just one very long counter surrounding the open kitchen in the center. Anyway, the ramen was good but not nearly as good as their "ramen-of-the-year" claim. (Perhaps it was because I just got back from eating some of the best ramen in the world.) All-in-all, Kamukura is a great way to end a drunken evening in Shibuya. And I'm sure most Japanese salary men would agree.

From Shibuya Station take the famous Hachiko exit and walk across the busiest intersection in the world. Proceed down Center Gai, the narrow pedestrian street, for a few minutes and you'll eventually see Kamukura on your right. Open everyday from 10am to 7am. Order from the ticket machine and wait to be directed to an empty seat. Give the server your ticket and your ramen will soon arrive.

Other sites that mention Dōtonbori Kamukura:

Friday, June 12, 2009

Tamuraya (青竹手打ちラーメン 田村屋) - Sano, Tochigi, Japan

Yet another city known for excellent water, Sano is famous for their handmade bamboo noodles. And according to the local taxi drivers, Tamuraya has THE best ramen around. I haven't told anyone this, but if I had to eat at only one ramen-ya for the rest of my life...it would probably be here. Aside from the incredible noodles, Tamuraya's light shoyu soup is something that I can never picture myself getting sick of. It's not immensely complex, but it's just that good. And the gyoza...oooh the gyoza. I think I may have called it "the best I've ever eaten in my life." In addition, Sano is less than 2 hours from Tokyo by train! You can bet I'll be back!

From Sano Station take the North exit down the stairs and make a left at the first street. Follow this small street for about 20 minutes until you reach an intersection with a greenish-blue pedestrian bridge. Cross to the other side, turn left and walk about 100 more steps and it will be on your right. They are closed on Wednesdays.

Other sites that mention Tamuraya:

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Menshou (白河中華そば 麺しょう) - Shirakawa, Fukushima, Japan

Shirakawa is a city known for great water. And practically every ramen-ya makes their own noodles by hand. Menshou is no different. With two types of noodle for their ramen (they have soba too), order the Omori (large) version if you want to try the thicker one. I ordered the regular size with the regular ramen and was sequentially satisfied. The soup is an assari torigara (chicken) base that was thirst-quenchingly good. If eating ramen were a sport, Menshou would be my ramenade.

Despite how far it may seem, it's only a 15-minute walk from Shinshirakawa Station. Head straight out of the station on the biggest street you see. At the third signal make a right and proceed along the main road for three more signals. Cross the street and you'll see Menshou on your right. They are open from 11am to 4pm and closed on Tuesdays.

Other sites that mention Shirakawa Menshou:

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Gen Rai Ken (源来軒) - Kitakata, Fukushima, Japan

With 40+ ramen shops located in the city, Kitakata can fulfill everyone's ramen fantasy. But when a local tries to describe Kitakata Ramen, they always point to the originator--Gen Rai Ken. Easily the oldest ramen shop around, Gen Rai Ken was founded by an old man who immigrated from China during the Taishō Period. With humble beginnings as a yatai, the secret to this old man's torigara (chicken) soup and handmade noodle technique has been protected and passed down throughout the years. With one sip you'll instantly understand why it's been around so long. The noodles are amazing as well. And do not forget to order the handmade gyoza! That's their other specialty.

From Kitakata Station head North along the main street. After one block where the signal is, make a right and continue East until you see a red building on your right. It should only take about 5-minutes on foot. There's another ramen-ya right next to it so don't mistakenly walk into that one. They are open from 10am to 7:30 pm and closed on Tuesdays.

On the corner of the intersection right in front of the station and across the street, there's a small ramen gift shop where two very nice ladies work. Stop by and say hi to them for me.

Other sites that mention Gen Rai Ken:

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Yonezawa Ramen Wakou (米沢ラーメン和幸) - Yonezawa Ekimae, Yamagata, Japan

Ramen Wakou was not quite as wacko as I would have liked it to be, but after all I went through on this day in Yonezawa, I was imperatively content with what they had to offer. It was a light shoyu ramen with an intense dab of peppery pepper that put the pep in pepalicious. Uuuh yeah, it was peppery. And it felt good! Almost like that Yonezawa steak I had. Key word: Almost...

A two-minute walk from Yonezawa Station. Just head West on the main road and you'll see it on your left. Grab a seat and tell the chef what you want. If you ask what the specialty is he'll just say "やっぱりしょゆうだな", which means Shoyu Bi*c*! Haha.

Other sites that mention Yonezawa Ramen Wakou:

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Akayu Ramen Ryushanhai (赤湯ラーメン流上海) - Yonezawa, Yamagata, Japan

Ryushanhai has been a personal favorite of mine ever since I tried it for the first time at the Yokohama Raumen Museum. And although this isn't a so-called "Yonezawa Ramen" nor is it the honten (original location), I wasn't going to pass it up without a look. Famous for their Akayu Ramen and Karamiso topping, Ryushanhai is two words--good sh**! The karamiso provides a slight pinch of spiciness that alerts your senses to an almost perfect ramen. The chashu is moist and delicious and the thick homemade noodles are incredible. Did you hear me? I said it was good sh**!

It's about a 30-40 minute walk from Yonezawa Station so it might just be better to call a taxi. The only problem with that though is you'll have a tough time finding a cab on the way back. Be prepared to burn off those calories you just ate. Anyhow, from Yonezawa Station head West on the main street that veers right. Then make a right at the Onuma (大沼デパート) department store and just keep walking and walking and walking until you see it on the left. You will be asked for your order as soon as you walk in so be prepared ahead of time. If it's busy, there's a bench inside the ramen-ya towards the back where people line up. They are open from 11:30am to 7pm and closed on Wednesdays.

Other sites that mention Ryushanhai Yonezawa:

Hakodate Ramen Mame-san (新函館ラーメン マメさん) - Suehiro-cho, Hakodate, Japan (Hokkaido)

Hakodate is the only city in all of Japan that is solely known for its Shio Ramen. And Hakodate Ramen Mame-san is arguably the most popular. With humble beginnings as a yatai in the late 60's, Mame-san has had a rough past that resulted in closure then resurrection. Today's Mame-san is considered "new", but it maintains all the ingredients from the original. With two types of noodles and a refined shio ramen, it's undoubtedly a hit among locals and tourists alike.

From Hakodate Station head southwest towards the morning market and in the direction of Mt. Hakodate. It's about a 15-minute walk over a span of 15 blocks. It'll be on your left side. There's a ticket machine here so just punch in what you want to order and wait to be seated. I recommend the shio ramen only cuz Hakodate is all about the shio. If you like squid stuffed with rice, get the Ikameshi combo. It's open everyday from 11am to 8pm.

Other sites that mention Hakodate Ramen Mame-san:

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Sapporo Ramen Kyowakoku (札幌らーめん共和国) - Sapporo Station, ESTA Building 10F

If you don't get a chance to leave Sapporo (or the station for that matter), the 10th floor of the ESTA building, within the confines of Sapporo Station, has a ramen park called Sapporo Ramen Kyowakoku. It is here that you'll find 8 ramen shops from around Hokkaido ready to serve the best ramen in perhaps all of Japan. Choose carefully and vote wisely.

The 8 shops will change every year or so depending upon your vote. The current lineup as of April 2009 can be found here. There's also a gift shop where you can find all of your ramen goodies. It's the next best thing to traveling throughout Hokkaido for ramen.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Ezo Fukurou (えぞ梟) - Mitsuwa Umaimono Gourmet Fair 2009

In the midst of my recent Sapporo posts, Ezo Fukurou zooms into LA for the weekend with perfect timing. Occupying a space in the Mitsuwa Food Court during this year's Umaimono Gourmet Fair, this ramen-ya from Hokkaido (?) brings it's Sapporo-style miso ramen with a fat slice of butter and a handful of corn. There's also a nori-tamago gohan for $1 if you feel like eating rice. Anyway, I arrived around 1:30pm and was shocked to see so many people. It took at least 40 minutes to wait in line, order, and pick up my ramen. Was it worth it? I guess so...

Miso Butter Corn Ramen: Described as "たっぷりコーンの味噌バターらーめん", which translates as "a sh**load of corn on top of miso butter ramen", this ramen was...pretty good. I mean, I've been a little spoiled lately so I wasn't really expecting much. And it was good to see that they still wok'd the soup (a miso ramen tradition) with all the ingredients right before pouring it on top of the noodles. I didn't see much corn on top, but most of it just sank to the bottom.

The butter really mellowed out the flavor. It's sort of like putting padding on the outfield wall. It lessens the impact of the miso but you can still taste it. I personally prefer it without the padding and enjoy the sting. You can also feel the butter coat your lips as you slurp. Sort of like kissing a girl (or guy if you prefer) who's wearing too much chapstick.

The thick, 2x4 pieces of menma were sadly disappointing. They were too hard and it felt like I was chewing on raw sugarcane. Okay, maybe not that hard but it was very stringy. The chashu had good flavor but it felt a little too chewy. Alright, I've definitely become too picky.

Alas, the noodles. I love Sapporo-style noodles. Good stuff! And the corn...is just sweet corn.

Fyi: I wrote that ? above because a search of Ezo Fukurou using the Ramen Database didn't turn up any results. Does anyone know where the honten in Japan is?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Mitsuwa Umaimono Gourmet Fair - 2009

Thanks to the ever-dependable edjusted for first breaking the news last night. The Mitsuwa Umaimono Gourmet Fair is back! For more info click here and if you can't read Japanese, then click here for Mitsuwa's translation.

Here is the rundown:

Chibakiya: Featuring Shinasoba.
6/4(Thu) - 6/7(Sun) Costa Mesa Store
6/11(Thu) - 6/14(Sun) New Jersey Store

Ezo Fukurou: Featuring Miso Butter Corn Ramen.
6/4(Thu) - 6/7(Sun) Torrance Store

Tsukasa: Featuring BBQ Beef Tongue.
6/4(Thu) - 6/7(Sun) Costa Mesa Store

Takoya Kukuru: Featuring Takoyaki.
6/4(Thu) - 6/7(Sun) Torrance Store, Costa Mesa Store
6/11(Thu) - 6/14(Sun) San Jose Store, Chicago Store, New Jersey Store

I guess San Diego was left out again! I guess they think it's not too far of a drive. Anyhow, hope you can still make it. See you there!

Nitori No Keyaki Susukino (にとりのけやき すすきの本店) - Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Japan (Hokkaido)

When the shopkeeper (店主) claims to reach all 5 of your senses with his ramen, it better be darn good. And darn good it was! The soup is made with pig fists, back fat, several vegetables, and special free-range chicken from Niigata. It is then boiled for at least 10 hours depending on the day. The noodles are your typical Sapporo-style that can withstand the heat. All of this combined with their 3-miso blend is what they call a miso ramen specialty shop. In other words, you'll only find miso ramen here. In all there is a regular miso ramen, miso corn butter ramen, chashu miso ramen, spicy miso ramen, negi miso ramen, and garlic miso ramen. I had the miso corn butter ramen. It was very smooth.

From Susukino Station (Namboku Line) walk three blocks South and make a left. It'll be on your right. It's exactly one block South of the Ramen Alley. Open everyday from 10:30am to 4am. Grab a seat and wait for the dude to take your order.

Other sites that mention Keyaki Susukino Honten:

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Sumire Honten (すみれ 札幌本店) - Toyohira-ku, Sapporo, Japan (Hokkaido)

As you may already know, Sapporo is known for their miso ramen. And miso ramen may as well be synonymous with Sumire. If you're in the vicinity, then the Sumire Honten (headquarters) is a MUST visit. Don't care much for miso? Then get ready to be blown away! You WILL burn your tongue and you WILL like it. The thin layer of oil keeps everything scorching hot and the tantalizingly tangy miso is unbelievable.

The closest station is Nakanoshima on the Namboku Subway Line. From there take Nakanoshima Street south and follow the bend to the left until you hit the next main street. Cross it, make a left then follow it until you see a small road that goes down parallel to the main street. Sumire will be at the end. There's plenty of parking and plenty of seats. They open at 11am and close at 9pm.

Other sites that mention Sumire Honten: