Thursday, March 5, 2015

IKR51 (Osaka-shi, Chūō-ku)


Ebi-shio tsukemen: 15 / 20

Ebi-shio ramen: 15 / 20

Nōkō (thick) ebi Z shio ramen: 14 / 20
(濃厚海老塩Z ラーメン)

Nōkō (thick) ebi Z shoyu ramen: 14 / 20
(濃厚海老醤油Z ラーメン)

Last time I went to this ramen-restaurant-with-a-name-from-outer-space, I had been intrigued by the variety of dishes they offer, and really wanted to come back to explore more. My family's visit was the perfect occasion for that. We ordered the ebi-shio tsukemen, the shio ramen, the ‘thick’ shio ramen, and the ‘thick’ shoyu ramen. On top of that, we shared a big ikura-umibudon domburi. Let’s start with the tsukemen’s review.

Broth: Now, that’s what I'm looking for in a shio tsukemen! The shrimp taste of the broth is so intense that dipping your noodles into it immediately coats it with a thick shrimp flavor. Also, the broth is quite fat – maybe a little bit too much for my taste, but perfect for sticking to the noodles. The soup wari turned the whole thing into pure shrimp essence – I think that may even surpass Go no Kami Seisakujo in Tokyo.

Noodles: Pale noodles, firm enough, thinner than your usual tsukemen noodles (which is to be expected for a shio tsukemen).

Meat: A couple of small bits of very lean, French ‘pot-au-feu’ style meat.

Egg: Relatively hard with a very orange yolk, but well-cooked – exactly like last time.

Toppings: A long menma branch, with a fibrous structure, very mild in taste but pleasant. Lots of negi.

Although I’m not a die-hard fan of shrimp-flavored ramen, this dish has everything a shio tsukemen needs to have: a broth that sticks enough to the noodles, and some strong flavor to make the shio base a bit more interesting.

Thanks to my ramen-addicted family, I could discover the subtle variations between most of the ramen the shop has to offer:

The regular ebi-shio ramen was in my opinion the best, nicely enhanced by strong shrimp and yuzu notes.

The thick shio Z ramen was good too, with some added black mayu (roasted garlic sauce), but definitely too salted.

The thick shoyu Z ramen has some interesting sweet notes (some of which reminded me lemongrass, although I may well be wrong), but was even more salted than the shio one - stay clear of that unless your tension is below 8/5 and your stomach immune to cancer!

I must add that all the ramen had slightly too soft noodles for my taste - hence the not-so-exceptional ratings.

Oh yeah, and the ikura-umibudon bowl was great! If you’ve never tried umibudon (Okinawa 'sea grape') I definitely recommend ordering it.

More info on ramendb.

Other reviews: Ramen adventures, Friends in ramen, Philoramen.

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