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

Monday, November 30, 2009

Wake up, wake up! It's the end of the month...

Day 27:

November has finally come to an end and I'm approaching the one month mark of being in Japan. I still don't think it's hit me that I'm living here. I guess I really haven't had much time to think about it because I've been so busy with work. In any case, I've learned so much in the past 27 days and I'm close to being able to take on every responsibility at Ivan Ramen. I still can't thank the man enough for giving me this opportunity.

On a side note, two brothers who follow this blog came to visit me at work all the way from San Francisco. Their names were Ben and Ivan (not kidding). They seemed cool so we decided to meet up for lunch tomorrow!

Peace out.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Times...

Day 26:

New York that is. Matt Gross, who writes a frugal blog for the New York Times, came into Ivan Ramen today to interview the master, my boss. Apparently he is writing an article on the obsession of ramen and surprisingly he also wanted to interview me. I was nervous for sure, but talking about ramen always comes naturally. I just know it's gonna be an awesome article!

In other news, I had the Roast Garlic Mazemen for lunch today for the first time and it was lip-smackin' good!

Mmm garlic...!


Saturday, November 28, 2009

An old friend...

Day 25:

I met up with an old friend from high school tonight. I saw him the other night for the first time in 14 years, but we never got the chance to really talk about the years we missed, until tonight. I took him to the infamous Spain Bar to chill over a few nama beers. It was a good night. We've both been through a lot over the years and it was nice to just sit down and hang out like we never even missed a beat. It's funny how things work out sometimes...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday!

Day 24:

For all of you back home in the States waiting in those long lines for great deals, I waited in line too but not for bargains. I waited for Ikasumi (squid ink) Ramen! (Actually, it's tsukemen.)

Every Friday at Jiraigen, the shop closes and reopens as Black Friday! And there is only one thing on the menu--Squid Ink Tsukemen!

Hence, Black Friday! Squid ink in ramen is generally considered a gimmick since it really adds no flavor to the soup, but Black Friday does a good job of selling it. Plus, it's hella good!

The noodles were also thick and chewy and very springy.

When you're done with the noodles you can ask for soup wari to make the soup weaker and drinkable. Mmm. I'm pretty sure the base is chicken with some sort of dashi.

Work today was extra busy and apparently a famous comedian came in to eat a bowl. He's the guy who does all the Obama impressions here in Japan. Cool, huh? Anyway, hope everyone had a great holiday!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Day 23:

I had to work today and I'm very, very thankful of that. After all, I'm living my dream right? My Thanksgiving dinner was Mexican Tacos Men--the closest thing to home.

I know I've mentioned how good this was before, but just look for yourself. Sure it would have been nice to have some turkey and stuffing or my mom's green bean casserole, but I really can't ask for anything more in this current life that I live. I have a lot to be thankful for.

So thank you and Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Early morning beef bowl and more ramen!!

Day 22:

What do you do when you're stuck in Chiba and you're friends are hungry at five in the morning and there are no ramen-ya's open? Beef bowl!!! Yes it's Yoshinoya. For those familiar with Yoshinoya back in the states, the Japanese version is a thousand times better!

Oh yeah. There are no words to explain. Plus I'm hella tired. haha.

Two thumbs up!!

After my beef bowl, I made the hour and a half trek back to Tokyo and managed to get a few hours of sleep. It was then that I had a dream...a dream about ramen.

Apparently I promised someone I met the other night that I would take her to eat ramen. In that case, off to Shodai Keisuke!

For some black miso ramen!

This was a really strong ramen but it was incredibly satisfying and a great ending to my two days off.

I think I'll go to sleep now. Goodnight!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Cheese Ramen!!

Day 21:

After a night of heavy drinking, it was suddenly 3am and we were all craving ramen. Somehow we ended up at Tsukomo Ramen in Tsudanuma, which is in Chiba-ken. I'm not exactly sure how we got there, but when our friend drove by and I saw the neon lights, I'm pretty sure I yelled out "cheeese!!" Oh yeah, did I mention I had today off?

Unfortunately, the Cheese Ramen was all sold out. Dammit!

Instead I got the regular Tonkotsu Ramen. It was okay. Afterwards, I got a ride back to Shinjuku and somehow made it home for a few hours of sleep.

When I finally did wake up, I was still disappointed that I couldn't try the Cheese Ramen earlier so first thing I did was call Brian and make lunch plans at the main Tsukumo branch in Ebisu. There was no way I'd let the cheese elude me this time.

And sure enough, I finally got to try it. One word: WOW! It was better than I thought it would be. The miso-tonkotsu base topped with this mound of cheese was awesome!

Later that night, it was back to Chiba for some more good times with both old and new friends. I'm so glad I get another day off.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A National Holiday...

Day 20:

Today was a national holiday in Japan so we were open during the day instead of the evening. And being that it was a holiday, the line out our door never let up. Needless to say, we were busy but in a good way. My friend Daizo was in town from the States and he decided to stop by with some of his friends. Let it be known that Daizo is the first friend from the States to come visit me at work. Thanks D! Anyway, I made him my first ever buta tomato meshi and luckily it turned out good with Ivan's approval. It's too bad we didn't take any pictures.

After work, we all went drinking in Shinjuku and had a blur of a time!

2 days off baby!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

What is Atsumori Tsukemen?

Day 19:

Perhaps I should tell you what Tsukemen is first. Well, Tsukemen is a cold noodle that is dipped in a hot soup. In contrast, Atsumori Tsukemen is a HOT noodle dipped in a hot soup. Although you can order Tsukemen atsumori-style all year round at Ivan Ramen, it is only in winter that you'll get to try the Atsumori Tsukemen with a special noodle recipe.

The regular tsukemen used a noodle made with rye flour, but the winter Atsumori Tsukemen uses a totally different recipe based on wheat flour. Both are good, but the atsumori is perfect for tsukemen peeps that still crave it in the winter.

There are a few dipping soups that you can choose from and today I chose the goma dare (sesame-based) and loved it! Don't forget to ask for soup-wari so you can drink the soup when you are done. Trust me, you'll want to drink it!

I was really, really craving a burger when I got off work so I went to the only place I could think of...Mickey D's! Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese baby!! Wow, that actually tasted better than in the states.

Can you tell I felt better today? Just one more day until I get two days off!!!

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Day 18:

It finally got me. My coworker has been sick for the past couple days and I think he passed me his cold. But in this business you can't take any days off so I pushed through it without complaint. It's been raining and getting colder and colder as we approach the heart of winter. It's definitely different from LA. I got home early cuz it's Saturday so now I am just gonna go to sleep. Goodnight!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Mexican Tacos Men

Day 17:

Only a master can create something so unique. Yup, ramen with a Mexican flavor! It's actually a Mazemen with a chili sauce soup base topped with a mix of ground pork, beans, onions, and cheese.

The noodles are the same ones used for the atsumori tsukemen (I'll tell you know what that is later). This ramen really makes me think of home. Hmm, it's kind of like a burrito supreme with noodles, only fresher and better tasting.

If you're in town you should definitely come give it a try. It's really mind blowing. Ivan is the man!!

On another note, I prepared this shoyu ramen for myself today. There's something about Ivan's shoyu ramen that is extremely addictive. I can definitely eat it everyday.

Anyway, just get your butt in here to try the special Mexican Tacos Men. I can assure you that it's worth it and that it won't last long!

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Day 16:

It can't be helped...

Some customers came in today after having one too many drinks and they began acting really obnoxious. Sometimes this can get a little annoying, but here in Japan you just have to accept it. When someone does something because they were drunk, people usually just shrug it off and say that it can't be helped. Basically, you can pretty much be forgiven for anything that you do in an intoxicated state as long as you're not committing a crime. I love this country! Haha.

As far as my training is concerned, I'm just entering my third week and I've already learned so much! 仕込み (preparation) is full of long hours and hard work, but it is すごい楽しい!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My first day off!!

Day 15:

Today is my first day off since I arrived in Japan. I never thought this day would come. Haha. I spent the morning joining a gym (or sports club as they say here). I won't get into it now, but the gym's here suck! Granted I had to find one that would fit my ramen apprentice salary, but still...they suck! Anyway, my gym's slogan is "I love you. I'm sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you." Uh, what's that all about?

Afterwards, it was off to meet Brian and Nate in Kichijoji for...ramen!! I owed my stomach an apology for yesterday's mess so we headed to Raku Raku for some goodness.

Ahh, yes! Eating ramen everyday can never be a crime! I wasn't digging the soup as much as everyone else, but overall this ramen was on the better side.

The noodles were great and that hanjuku egg was super marinated with flavor just exploding in my mouth. Next time I'm ordering another egg!

On our way home we got to see some illumination. ooooh.

And that was my day off.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Shoyu Sadness and Mabo Mediocreness...

Day 14:

I got an hour break for lunch today so I decided to venture out to see what restaurants were around Rokakoen Station. I was craving something spicy and I found this Chinese Restaurant serving a Shoyu Ramen and Mabo Don set. Big mistake! Both were tasty but let's just say my stomach was hating me for the rest of the day...

This mabo was not hot, literally and figuratively. I think I'll stick to Ivan's food from now on.

My posts have been lacking some good content lately. To be honest, I've been a bit behind with my daily posts because I'm so exhausted every night and by the time I get around to writing something I forget what I did that day. Haha, I'll get back on track soon. Promise.

Monday, November 16, 2009

What is Mazemen?

Day 13:

It's hard to believe I've never tried Ivan's Mazemen until today. So what is Mazemen? It's basically a ramen with less soup meant to have everything be mixed around rather than soaked. It's actually a genius idea created for customers who don't prefer a lot of soup. Pictured below is the Red Chili Mazemen with everything on it. Ivan also serves a Slow Roasted Garlic Mazemen.

Come in and try it!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Celebrating again...

Day 12:

To celebrate our recent success of the Tsukemen Event, Ivan took us all out for dinner. It was a great night of bonding with my new coworkers. It seems as though everyone here shares the same dream as I do. We all have the same passion and I can just tell we're gonna be a great team. Hopefully, I'll be able to get up to speed fast so I can contribute more to the everyday process. The work is hard, but I'm having a blast and it can only get better.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A celebration with family...

Day 11:

Ivan Ramen is only open during the day on weekends, so that gave me some time to finally celebrate my birthday with family and friends. Kanpai!!

Nate got me a book about the history of Tokyo ramen shops and Brian got me a 2010 calendar featuring a different ramen from all over Japan every week. Sweet! Thanks dudes!!

My nieces are too cute. I can't wait to spend more time with them.

Thanks bro and sis!

Friday, November 13, 2009

It's all about the pictures...

Day 10:

I'm exhausted, so today I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. Someday I'll explain everything.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

My birthday...

Day 9:

My first day on the job at Ivan Ramen just so happens to be my birthday. Coincidence? Or is this just the best birthday present one could have? I choose the latter! Most of the prep work had been done earlier in the week so an early afternoon start meant that I could spend the morning running a few errands and just enjoying life. Thus, I went to Don Quijote (or don kiho-te) and just wandered around.

I ended up buying a gatorade and some shoyu ramen drops. The gatorade tasted more like orange juice and the ramen drops tasted like a**. Haha, yeah I don't recommend those.

Afterwards, it was off to one of my favorite shoyu ramen shops in westside Tokyo--Jiraigen.

I ordered the garyu umami soba to warm up my soul. Mmm, mmm, mmm!

With extra toppings of course.

And then it was off to Ivan's for my first day of work. I didn't get to take many pictures but I did learn a lot for it being day 1. Perhaps someday I'll post all the notes I took and give away some of Ivan's secrets...nah!!

Afterwards, I met my bro for a drink just in time to do cheers before the clock struck midnight. Overall, my first day at Ivan's was a success. I am definitely living the dream!!