Posts Tagged ‘ramen’

Ramen Jiro, Shinjuku, Tokyo

Yes, there can be not great ramen in Japan. There’s a chain in Tokyo called Ramen Jiro, which apparently is a good way to start your ramen tour in Tokyo if you’re trying to find the best ramen. I’d like to point out we first heard about this on a NY Times article about ramen (thanks Asta!). This article highlights finding the best (or local favorite) places for ramen. There are apparently blogs and serious ramen scholars dedicated to finding that perfect noodle. This article took some of those finds.

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The ramen place is on the corner of a small alley, and is actually near some other fast food restaurants we like (Mos Burger, anyone?).

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Like most ramen places, you go to the machine, put in some money, and get a ticket. We randomly picked (again) and got our tickets. This place is famous for using lots of garlic, and we hoped we bought stuff with garlic. We then sat at the counter, which was tiny. They actually had a couple booths but they reserved those for large parties of business men. By the way, the guy who took our tickets was a complete jackass. Yes, you heard it from my mouth – JACKASS. He completely ignored us, and took at least five other people’s tickets first. I was so upset.

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The chef was much more mild, and sometimes smiled. Whereas the jackass didn’t.

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This was Kyung’s. I have no idea what it was, other than it was a large size. I think it was pretty much mine, except with more noodles, while mine was smaller but had more meat. weird.

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Here’s mine. The final consensus? The broth is thick and really savory, but after like three spoonfuls of it you’ve pretty much eaten your entire meal. The meat was tough and flavorless, the noodles thick and almost too heavy in your stomach, and everything was covered in inches of sprouts. And this is supposed to be good ramen?

I think if I were drunk, and wandering the streets of Shinjuku with no shoes, I’d eat here. But otherwise, not so much.

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Kouryu Ramen, Akihabara, Tokyo

Yes, we went back to Japan! Our 8 day trip has just concluded. Today is day 1 back in the States and already I’m missing good curry, ramen, and the miles of walking and subways. Kyung and I had falafels today and we were discussing how it felt so weird to not be eating a katsu or something. We also wondered if we brought falafels to Japan, would we make it big? We decided no, because one thing we’ve noticed is how homogenous the food tends to be.

Anyway, the first time we went to Tokyo, we found a ramen place in Akihabara which we really loved. It was raining that day, and it was a haven for us from the wet. We went back again this time to see if it was a fluke but it wasn’t, we actually loved it! Kouryu is like a typical ramen shop – vending machine outside with various ramen options, toppings, and sides, and you enter your yen and receive a little ticket for each dish, side, or topping you order. Then you head inside, find a seat at the counter, and hand your tickets to the staff. People are in and out under 15 minutes. And I also found that most people in ramen shops are men. Very often I’ve been the only girl at a counter full of businessmen or teen boys. Kind of weird.

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I have no idea what I ordered, since I just randomly picked based on the picture. But – once you order your bowl of ramen, before they prepare it, they give you a sheet where you fill out things like how much oil do you want in your broth, if you want thick or thin noodles, etc. They had an English version of that luckily, so while I can’t tell you what soup base I had, I can tell you it had little oil, thin noodles, thick slices of soft pork, green onion, and a boiled egg. I also ordered a side of chicken fried rice (it was only 100 yen, which is a little over a dollar). The broth was delicious – light and savory, and it complemented the hearty pork with the thin and firm noodles. The rice was great!

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Kyung customized his noodles with thin as well, lots of pork, spicy sauce, and more oily sauce. He loved his ramen and was very glad that it was just as good as the first time. He also ordered a roe rice, but he said it was just ok. Oh well, I think it was like 200 yen (cheap!).

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If for some reason you run out of noodles, or want more sides, you can order it by placing some coins into this machine. They’ll then bring it to your counterspace so you can slurp up more things happily.

We rounded out our scrumptious meal with my favorite – glass bottle Cokes.

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I don’t know the address but if you exit the Akihabara station, it’s near one of the exits. It’s very small, so you may need to keep an eye out. Or you can ask the JR station staff. They’re usually very friendly and understanding if you don’t speak Japanese.

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Santouka Ramen – Shibuya

You may be a little surprised to hear that Santouka can actually be found in California – yup, there’s one in San Jose. I haven’t tried that one yet, though I’ve heard of it. Kyung’s coworker suggested we go to one of the originals in Shibuya, so today after visiting a friend, we walked down the street to find this restaurant.

The restaurant is small and cozy, and moves up vertically for seating. We sat on the second floor in front of the open ramen bar and ordered the special pork cheek ramen (what they are known for) and the miso ramen. We also ordered a side of gyoza.
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The ramen was made swiftly, and also came with a random side of rice log. I can’t really describe it better than it was literally a log of rice with some sesame on top.
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Kyung’s pork cheek ramen was amazing – the broth was so thick it was like pork and butter flavored porridge, and the pork cheek meat was so tender and melted in your mouth. This was the best ramen I have ever had.
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My ramen was great but not stellar. I ordered the miso which came with soft pieces of pork that was slightly fatty in a good way (but not as tender as the cheek). The broth was hearty but not quite as satisfyingly thick as Kyung’s.
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I did like the gyoza a lot though – it wasn’t overly fried and came with a very light skin and tasty but dainty filling of meat.
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Santouka is definitely the best ramen here so far, and we’re eager to try the one back home (though I doubt it would match the flavors and preparation and FUN of the one here.

On a random side note, our hotel randomly gave us a free sample of ramen. Behold. Even the ramen that comes prepacked is still better looking and tasting than the stuff we get back at home!
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