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

Friday, April 30, 2010

Independent day...

Day 178:

Are you ready? Today was my day off and Michael and Jeremy were back for their personal ramen tour hosted by myself, Nate, and rameniac. First up was Tetsu in Koenji for their amazing tsukemen.

Atsumori in da house! Tetsu is the only place I know of that serves their atsumori (warm) tsukemen noodles in a hot broth.

If you're in the mood for tsukemen, you can never go wrong with Tetsu. It's rock solid!

Speaking of rocks, you can request one of these hot iron rocks to warm up your soup after you've finished off the noodles. Be careful though cuz it's damn hot!

Next up was an old school shoyu ramen at Harukiya in Ogikubo.

Normally you aren't allowed to take photographs, but after a twenty-minute talk with the boss' wife and some slight convincing of what we were trying to accomplish, the door was opened.

If you look closely you can probably see my soul in this soup.

Cuz it's in there...somewhere.

After a quick visit to Ganko in Takadanobaba for some photos...

We then found ourselves at Nidaime Keisuke awaiting some french-influenced shrimp ramen.

Ebi soba in da house! Woah, that shrimp is in yo face!

But don't let the contemporary bowl fool you, it's actually quite impractical to eat out of.

This ramen tasted great, but I don't see myself ever craving it again.

Last on our list was the heavily fish-based ramen of Watanabe.

Being that this was our fourth bowl in less than 6 hours, I can't say that I'd crave this ramen again either. It's a bit too fishy for me.

The 2x4 menma stick was a bit too tough, but a rare sight to see nonetheless.

It's been awhile since I've eaten ramen at a pace like this, but it was worth every bite. Later that night I had to hunt down the kebab truck in Shinjuku to fulfill a week-long craving.

Damn, now that was a fun ramen-filled day. I can't wait to do it again...

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The blind mole...

Day 177:

I pass through Okinawa Town at least once a day.

And everyday I see this ramen shop with its funny signs, wondering when I'll have the desire to give them a try.

So today I stopped, read the signs, and was lured in by this bag full of daikon (Japanese radish) that is used in their Mogura (mole) Tsukemen. Don't worry, there aren't any moles in the soup. It's just a way of describing how you have to dig through the grated daikon when dipping your noodles in the soup.

Aside from being some dude's studio apartment converted into a ramen shop, the interior was pretty dope. The 6-person counter had a fish tank underneath with actual fish.


Okay, I'm not much of a fan of 大根おろし (grated daikon) so I'd have to say that I did not enjoy this tsukemen one bit. I was definitely not prepared for it. The noodles came warm and the tsuke-jiru (soup) had ice cubes in it. It was very odd.

But I'm a trooper and I still managed to eat it all, knowing that I would never have to eat it again. If you like spicy daikon though, you'll probably love this. It just wasn't for me.

Back at work the Mikawaya Seimen rep came by to drop off some more samples. And I even got to talk noodles with him for several minutes. Notice how yellow those noodles on the left are? Apparently they use some type of vitamin to get it that yellow. Interesting...

I also asked if they are able to ship their noodles to the States. He said of course.........

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Feeling Independent...

Day 176:

About a month ago I received an email from Michael Booth, author of Sushi and Beyond and travel writer for the Independent on Sunday, to help him with an article that he was working on about ramen. After a few delays due to those pesky volcanoes, he and his photographer Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert were finally able to come check out Bassanova, where I gave them a full tour of what a Tokyo ramen shop is like inside and out. I hope they enjoyed it. I have a feeling this won't be the last time I see them.

Meanwhile back in the kitchen, I've been experimenting with the ingredients I have on hand to create my own version of shoyu ramen. This one seemed to taste the best so far.

My coworkers even went as far as to say it was better than the wadashi. Thanks guys but it's not that good...yet.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Vegan Ramen!

Day 175:

Yes, it does exist! Tucked away in the first floor of a small apartment complex near Nakano Station, where Aurora Cafe rents out a space called Una Camera Livera, two [yes TWO!] types of vegan ramen can be found every other Tuesday. I gotta give props to rameniac for sniffing this one out though. He's recently developed a side obsession to find the healthiest ramen around.

The two types of ramen are a mock tonkotsu and a mock shoyu. Being that rameniac is the tonkotsu guy and I am the shoyu guy, I guess I don't need to tell you which ones we each ordered.

So was it good, you ask? The tonkotsu ramen had a peculiar thickness to its soy milk broth infused with sesame oil. It was edible. But topped with pig-ear-like fried tofu, this ramen screamed vegan (whatever that means).

The noodles were a firm hirauchi-men. I totally forgot to ask if these noodles were in fact considered vegan. They didn't taste like noodles that don't contain egg.

Anyway, I found the shoyu ramen much more impressive. I instantly recognized that the dashi was shiitake and the oil used was sesame. (It actually reminded me of my mom's udon broth back home.) The shoyu was definitely on the sweeter side and as simple as this ramen was, I enjoyed it.

Until they open everyday, I won't be eating this everyday. Okay, I won't be eating this everyday regardless. But it's good to know that there's a vegan ramen option out there.

Afterward, since we were already in Nakano I wanted to scope out where the new shop of the recently-moved Jiraigen was. Then rameniac suggested we slurp down another bowl because he's never tried it before. I wasn't one to argue.

I ordered something I've never ordered before--the tsukemen. And when it came out, I was shocked. Well, I guess I shouldn't be shocked knowing the past history between Jiraigen and Bassanova, but...

Their tsukemen tasted eerily similar to ours, swapping out the tonkotsu soup for chicken. And not only are the bowls exactly the same as ours, the ingredients look to be the same too.

Pss...you know what? I won't say this out loud, but our tsukemen is definitely better tasting.

Man, I should have just ordered my favorite bowl of shoyu like rameniac did.

As far as the shop goes, this is almost exactly how I would want my shop to be like. The dude even stole my idea of having two turntables in a ramen shop.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Back to the bush...

Day 174:

I went back to The Bush today to try their wonton men and gyoza. The wonton men was not as good as I remember the shoyu to be. The wontons actually diluted the soup. If you order this, make sure you say 'aji koime' so they can add more flavor to the broth.

The gyoza were fat-tastic! Man those suckers were plump.

Meanwhile back at Bassanova, we came across some old school stickers. It took us a while to figure this out, but apparently TRB stands for Tondaku Ramen Basaraka.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

The best green curry so far...

Day 173:

Since my mom would be leaving back to the states tomorrow, we decided to go grab some sushi for lunch. Though not as fun as grabbing a bowl together, eating sushi with my mom is a close second. Thanks mom, have a safe flight back!

Every batch of green curry comes out slightly different. The ingredients are the same, but there's a special technique used to control its spiciness. Our last two batches came out a tad spicier than usual, but this batch has got to be the best so far since I've started.

I would say it's perfect, but then I still think 'our best' is still out there...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A fight to the death...

Day 172:

With Brian acting as Tokyo's newest ambassador to ramen, I forced myself to get out of bed (after only four hours of sleep) to meet up with a group of ramen fiends at Fukumen in Jimbocho for a fight to the death. Joining me and Brian were Rick (aka Rameniac), Daniel from Modern Day Deity, and Monica from my rival high school.

Fukumen is part of the Ganko family and actually run by the man himself. Every month or so they serve a special ramen for one day and one day only that's open to everyone. On weekdays this shop requires that you show a "members only" card in order to enter. Today's special ramen was appropriately titled Fukumen Death Match.

A shio ramen made with chicken, oysters, and cuttlefish that is topped with fried oysters and sea turtle eggs.

At first I thought this death match ramen was gonna turn into some sort of ping-pong match. But then I realized that those weren't ping-pongs...they were the actual sea turtle eggs. Crazy!


The sea turtle eggs had an oozy crunch to them that was new to my mouth but great. If I had a beer, I could probably snack on them forever.

The fried oysters were plump and juicy. I could snack on these all day too.

The actual ramen was a bit on the salty side, but outstanding nonetheless. Consider this ramen killed.

Afterward, we went to go grab some bad ass coffee, but the place was closed.

So I settled for some cheesecake and iced tea at the coffee shop near Bassanova.

That fight was exhausting, but back to work I go.