Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Ramen Expo, round 3 (Osaka-fu, Suita-shi)

This year, the Ramen Expo at Bampaku Kinen Koen was structured in three rounds in a row, with twelve different ramen shops at each round. I had been to the first round with Ben from Friends in Ramen (here and there), now it was time to go to the third round with my family - and sample as many bowls as we could! Here are a few short reviews.

Enraku x Jirochou: 12 / 20
(えん楽 × ラーメン次郎長)

This bowl was a collaboration between two Hokkaido shops: Enraku, from Hakodate, and Jirochou, from Kayabe. The shio broth, a specialty of Hakodate city, was relatively concentrated in taste and not bad, but well, a shio broth rarely reach etheral heights in taste. The noodles and menma were too soft, and the meat insignificant. The egg was good, though, and the mushroom brought some originality.

More info on ramendb: Enraku, Jirochou.

Ramen Nagi Niboshiou: 17 / 20
(ラーメン凪 煮干王)

The second ramen was the niboshi broth from Tokyo's Nagi. Superb, as usual, and the thick noodles held remakably well the difficult conditions of the Ramen Expo: it takes some time to go from the ramen stand to your seat, and most noodles become quickly too soft, but the Nagi's thick noodles didn't - that’s really the kind of noodles you need in such circumstances! It seemed to me that the meat tasted less good than at the mother shop, though.

More info on ramendb.

Takemotoshouten x Shimadakeimen: 12 / 20
(竹本商店 × 島田製麺食堂)

Two shops from Akita were collaborating for this third bowl. It had a very powerful and quite pleasant shrimp taste. However, the noodles sticked too each other and were too soft, they felt like some kind of pot noodles. The wanton was too soft too.

More info on ramendb: Takemotoshouten, Shimadakeimen

Raatsuu: 8 / 20
(千葉拉麺倶楽部 拉通)

This bowl from Chiba had a ton of meat on top of it - much too fat, unfortunately. The noodles were thin and elastic, and felt like some kind of industrial ready-made noodles. The shoyu broth did not have any special taste, and the menma were quite soft. Why on earth bring to Kansai such an insignificant bowl from as far as Chiba?

More info on ramendb.

Menya Sou: 11 / 20

I was quite eager to finally try this famous Tokyo ramen, and my disappointment was huge. The broth was not unpleasant but relatively unremarkable, and the meat both too fat and too firm. However, the egg was very good and the menma quite interesting: fibrous, with a mild taste of fresh bamboo - they did not have the typical taste of preserved food that you can often find in menma. The last disappointing note were the seaweed and duck-meatballs (flavored with ginger) for which I paid 300 yens more: the idea is original for sure, but they were very average and insignificant. I’m quite puzzled here, is that really this famous ramen everyone adores? I would have to wait one month to discover that it isn’t... Stay tuned!

More info on ramendb.

Other reviews: Ramen Adventures, Ramenate, Ramen Walker, Ramenislove

Saeki ramen Aikoukai: 16 / 20

This last ramen was coming from Oita, and had a good broth with a delicious garlic taste - it was apparently tonkotsu, but in a clearly different style from the classical Hakata bowl. The sesame sprinkled on the meat formed a good alliance, and the noodles mixed well with the moyashi. Very convincing.

So, in a nutshell, only two really positive experiences (Nagi and Aikoukai) and four very average bowls - that was not a great success. Clearly, the Ramen Expo is not the perfect place to taste the ramen as you would in their natural environment. Sure, the atmosphere is fun and pleasant, and that's an occasion to discover ramen from other horizons, but some of them are clearly below the quality that you would enjoy in the original restaurant. I had a much better experience during the first round.

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