12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days. Either way you look at it, it's been one year. And it couldn't be more fitting that it ends with the beginning of the Tokyo Ramen Show--the biggest ramen event of 2010. With roughly 100 shops combining to deliver 27 or so different bowls of ramen, I made sure to have the day off.
Boom and I arrived early to hopefully meet up with some ramen celebs. And what do you know...we bumped into Mr. Ramen Maejima-san of Setaga-ya right off the bat. And the coolest part was that he remembered me. Alright, enough walking around, I'm hungry.
You start out by buying one of these tickets and each one is good for a bowl from any one of the 27 booths.
I decided to try the Tanaka Shoten and Tsujita collabo first since I had met both of them at the ramen expo and it sounded like an interesting combination. It's basically a Hakata-style tonkotsu ramen infused with miso. Unfortunately, Tsujita-san wasn't there (yet).
Impressive. It's probably the first miso ramen I've tried that works well with thin noodles. These guys are good!
Next up was the collabo from Setaga-ya, Ippudo, and Nakamoto, which also had the longest line. This is where it started.
And forty-five minutes later we arrive here. But it was worth it. And forty-five minutes is nothing compared to the wait that's coming...
It was like Ippudo's creaminess blended with Setaga-ya's fishiness and Nakamoto's miso-ness. I really enjoyed this bowl. And guess what? It's the same bowl that can be found in 7-11's across Japan at this very moment.
Around noon the people started to come out in full force.
Almost every booth had over an hour wait. Now can you see why ramen is so popular in this country.
Brian finally arrived and we all decided to try the 'dream collaboration' of Tetsu and Keisuke next.
The media was out in full force too. There seemed to be one at almost every booth.
Behold, Keisuke's spiny lobster paired with Tetsu's niboshi. You gotta love the smell of shrimp in the afternoon.
It was decent, but I'd think I'd rather see these two collabo on a tsukemen. Am I wrong?
So while Brian and Nobo waited in line for another bowl at Sairokku, Boom and I decided to take a walk around to digest the last three bowls. And that's when we ran into Chiba-san, the grandmaster of this event. After we talked for a few minutes about possibly bringing a ramen show to the States (how cool would that be?!), he took us to the back and said he would get us a bowl of any ramen we wanted to try. Sweet!!
Backstage pass at the ramen show!!! From left-to-right: Komiya-san of Tetsu, Maejima-san of Setaga-ya, Boom, me, and Keisuke of Keisuke. When I told Maejima-san that I waited in the long line to try his ramen, he said "why? you should have just come to the back and I would have given you one." A little late but thanks! Maejima-san is one cool dude. They're all cool!
So Chiba-san hooked us up with a bowl from Taishoken. A classic chuuka soba and just what I was in the mood for. The juicy chashu was amazing.
Shuga finally showed up and decided to wait in that line with Brian and Nobo. Boom went to go nap under a tree and I just continued to walk around.
Two hours had passed by and Brian, Shuga, and Nobo were still waiting in that line. Brian had had enough and was gonna be late for his lesson so he had to take off. But not before yelling "dasaitama!" Yeah, Sairokku had a real problem. It would take them 10 min to make 3 bowls. ださい indeed!
Shuga and Nobo got tired of waiting so momi filled in while I took them backstage. Plus I had heard Tsujita-san had finally arrived and I wanted to say hi. Tsujita-san is the coolest of the cool. As I walked by, our eyes met and as busy as he was, he ran out to say hi and shake my hand. And then he brought us a bowl. Classy. He had just arrived this morning from LA and as soon as this day was over he would be flying back. Crazy. 超頑張ってるね。
Afterward we all went back to resume our line waiting for Sairokku. All in all, it took 3.5 hours to get this bowl. Now that's crazy.
But...it was amazing. Worth the 3.5 hour wait? Probably not, but I can't complain since I didn't even do much of the waiting. Sorry guys, but thanks!!
Food Fight!! King Yamamoto ate something like 22 bowls in 1.5 hours. Dang!
As darkness started to fill the sky and the cold air returned...
It was time for one last bowl. A bukkakesoba from Tamagumi.
With 12 shops collaborating on this ramen, it was intense.
The udon-style noodles were covered in oil, backfat, fish powder, and everything else you can think of. Perfect for the last bowl of the day.
A big thanks to all those who came out to help celebrate my one year in Japan! Boom, Shuga, Brian, Nobo, momi, Calvin, Jordan, Rebecca, Alyssa, Edditha, and Josephine...UC representin' at the Tokyo Ramen Show!!
It wouldn't be a day off without stopping by work. But no ramen for me. I think six bowls in a day is enough.
I can't believe it's already been a year. It went by so fast, yet I feel like so much happened. Here's the video for the last quarter. Forgive me for its length. All songs were done by my rapper cousin. Enjoy!
So...are you ready for season 2?? lol.