We woke up at the crack of dawn to make noodles. But mostly, we were just looking through recipe books trying to gather new ideas. And then when I asked Yamamoto-san what it was like to make ちじり麺 (wavy noodles), he started to roll this.
While we waited for our roll of dough to settle, Yamamoto-san took me to a nearby ramen-ya for lunch called Menkichi.
Sticking with the theme of noodles, Menkichi does something that I've never heard of before. Instead of boiling their noodles, they steam them! So the pot you see below that the guy is touching is about half full of water and inside there are four different strainers that hang just above the water line. How interesting!
The ramen here is a light shoyu broth with what I suspect is made with a blend of chicken, pork, and vegetables. It was refreshing.
The noodles were very firm and delightful to bite into. It was hard to believe they were cooked only with steam.
Back at Tonkotsu Ramen Hikari, our noodles were ready to be cut and pressed.
What I'm about to share with you is the technique of making machine cut noodles look wavy and handmade. First you add some uchiko powder to prevent stickage and then squeeze them into a ball as hard as you can.
Then slam the ball of noodles onto the table. BAM!
Do this a few times and viola! ちじり麺！(I was told to think of someone you hate while doing this and it will come out better...haha.)
Now it was time to try the new noodle to see if it matched a certain soup. First up was the miso tonkotsu. Not really.
Then it was a special shoyu creation. Now that's what I'm talking about!
But even better was when we used the noodles for tsukemen. Now this is the life!
Towards the end of the night I was served a bowl of my friend's 100% tonkotsu ramen. It was soothing, but I know that my friend can do much better. He agrees and is still in the process of mastering a recipe.
The hakata style noodles, on the other hand, were outstanding! And I even got the recipe! Sorry, I won't be able to share that part.
If you order any ramen akoni style, you get a flaming (hard to see the flame here) mixture of red chili garlic and a spicy meat ball.
It gives the ramen a spicy kick that will scorch every single taste bud in your mouth. It's great!
And so my two days of working at a new ramen shop near Nagoya has come to an end. This was probably one of my best ramen-related experiences to date. I learned so much in such a short period of time and made many great friends in the process. There is no doubt you will be hearing more about me and Yamamoto-san in the future.
Thank you Yamamoto-san! Thank you Hirate-san! Thank you Kagami-san! 頑張ってね！The next time I visit Hikari, I'll be expecting people lining up for blocks!