Saturday, October 3, 2015

Marutora (Osaka-shi, Ikeno-ku)

○寅 麺屋 山本流
まるとら めんや やまもとりゅう
Marutora Menya Yamamotoryuu

Shio ramen: 16 / 20

This place features a number of thick ramen, including a kotteri miso tsukemen, but I chose their ebi shio – I trust Ben to sample the miso one some day!

Broth: A good shrimp taste, quite intense – as often with shrimp ramen.

Noodles: Straight and thin, neither soft nor hard, a good match with the seafood notes.

Meat: Thick, soft, fat chashu, with a relativey subdued pork taste, not bad at all.

Egg: Salty and with a gooey yolk, inegally cooked but quite good. The white part has subtle flavors.

Toppings: Some thin menma with a strong classical taste, the classical balance between crunchiness and softness – some of them were quite juicy. Some green, round negi that were a good fit with the soup. A few small shrimps. Some yuzu zest – but its taste was kind of crushed by the strong flavor of the soup.

Overall, a very convincing ebi shio ramen, more balanced that the quite salty IKR51, and which would be interesting to compare with Ganko. A good place to stop on Osaka's loop line, at Teradacho station – note that there seems to be a couple of other quite good ramen places around.

More info on ramendb.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Hesd'ramen (France, somewhere the middle of a secret forest)

As I went back to France to see my family, they had prepared a surprise for me. You bet it is what you think it was - a ramen!

 (no, don't worry, we didn't eat it with fork and knife)

No industrial low-quality ramen here, totally home-made! And I must say I was impressed: a very tasty tonkotsu-shoyu broth, with a strong taste of rustic pork; pleasant, fat, firm noodles; a good, tender chashu; and a very well cooked ajitama, with a gooey yolk as it should be, on the hard side, and a strong taste of shoyu infusing the white part. Only salt was a little bit off-balance, but overall, that was a very professional ramen.

As I would discover later, this was quite akin to Wakayama-style ramen.

Bravo la famille!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Rakunijin (Osaka-shi, Kita-ku)


Iwashi ramen: 16 / 20

After Fusuma ni Kakero, Ibuki, Mengenso, Strike Ken and Gunjo, it had been a while I wanted to visit this highly praised ramen restaurant in my beloved area of Temma. Finally, here I am, and I order one of their intriguing special dishes: the iwashi (sardine) ramen.

Broth: The first sip gave me the impression to drink the mixed content of a can of sardines. Later, the taste became milder, more inbetween the canned sardine and the niboshi: the usual niboshi pungency, but with a more intense taste. Original and delicious.

Noodles: Thin and straight, and not so firm.

Meat: The thin slice of pork looked like reassembled meat and did not look promising. That was a wrong impression: it had an original and good peppery taste.

Toppings: Some aburaage in the bowl, why not... A couples of crunchy slabs of menma that tasted more like fresh bamboo, peppered with shichimi - a nice twist. And a sheet of nori that fit well with the broth, as usual with niboshi.

A very good bowl that every niboshi amateur should try. Note that they also have a wafu chuka soba, a 2004 chuka soba and a thick, fish tsukemen - guess I'll have to come back!

UPDATE: The wafu chuka soba was good (review to come some day) but I was more impressed by the iwashi ramen.

More info on ramendb.

Other review: Friends in Ramen

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Tanron / Wakamatsu (Hyogo-ken, Nishinomiya-shi)

ラーメン たんろん
らーめん たんろん
Ramen Tanron

Mendokoro Wakamatsu

Noko toritonkotsu niboshi ramen: 15 / 20

Every Sunday (if I understood correctly), Nishinomiya's ramen-star Tanron becomes Mendokoro Wakamatsu and changes its menu to only once choice: a noko toritonkotsu niboshi (thick chicken-pork-sardine ramen). I was quite glad to see that there were only six people queuing when I arrived there; twenty minutes of waiting under a leaking roof later, I was seating in front of my bowl.

Broth: A thick broth that was neither too fat, nor too salty, and covered well the noodles. Curiously, it seemed to have retained only the pungency of the niboshi, but not the rest of the characteristic taste;  quite an addictive pugency, I must say. An interesting mix for sure.

Noodles: Square, mochi mochi, eggy, delicious noodles. I ordered the nami (regular) size - a good idea, as it was already quite copious.

Meat: A thin, large cold slice of chashu, fat and average. The bowl would be better without it.

Toppings: A few menma, sweet'n salty, with the classical menma taste; some were crunchy and some not so much.

Wari soup: You can order either tori paitan (thick chicken) or gyokai (fish) broth. I ordered the latest, and got some pungent dashi, that again did not really taste like niboshi. It was not enough though and the soup remained too thick too drink though (but you can certainly order more if you want to).

An original and good soup, a bit spoiled by the very average meat, but definitely recommended. As I left at 12:20, there was no queue anymore: Sunday seems to be a good day to go to Tanron, if you don't mind having it changed to Wakamatsu.

More info on ramendb: Tanron, Wakamatsu

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Yosuko (Osaka-shi, Kita-ku)

揚子江ラーメン 名門(本店)
ようすこうらーめん めいもん
Yousukou Ramen Meimon (Honten)

Ramen: 12 / 20
Haikotsu-men: 13 / 20

This place is not really the kind of ramen joint I would naturally have gone to. Probably because of the cheap plastic ramen in the frontage – come on, Yosuko, do you really think you will attract customers like this? It looked like a cheap Chinese restaurant offering basic ramen and gyoza to a not-too-regarding crowd. But it had good ranking on ramendb and I didn't want to have a heavy ramen, after my lunch at Hanabusa, so I gave it a chance with a friend of mine.

Broth: Very light broth, made from torigara and tonkotsu. It seemed a bit bland at first, but it actually had some deep umaminess (due to kombu, I presume) and even a hint of sweetness. No fish in this, as the chef confirmed to me.

Noodles: That must have been the softest ramen noodles I've ever eaten. I'm afraid this is not really my favorite style.

Meat: Some thin slices of unremarkable meat, although not unpleasant. My friend had a different meat, with some suji (tendons), quite tasteful.

Toppings: Some bean sprouts, as well as some green, pungent shungiku kikuna. You can also add some dried onions, but I think they crush the relative subtlety of the broth.

This bowl fitted my image (which may be wrong) of a Chinese ramen, with its soft noodles, light broth and slightly unremarkable meat. Not really my style, but it was not unpleasant and I can imagine that some people may love it. If you give it a try, I recommend taking the 'haikotsu' bowl with suji.

More info on  ramendb.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Hanabusa (Osaka-shi, Chuo-ku)

Menya Hanabusa

Shio ramen: 17 / 20

I must say it straightaway: I had a grudge against Hanabusa. I had already tried to come there twice, at times when it should have been opened according to ramendb; and on both occasions, it was inexplicably closed. In any other circumstances, I would have given up, but this restaurant was on the list of the Ra-Sai festival, so it was out of question that I would fail to earn my oh-so-precious bowl (yeah, slight irony inside) because of them.

However, all my gudge disappeared when I took my first sip of their shio ramen.

Broth: An intense shio with a light taste of both niboshi and kombu, not too salty, very balanced and harmonious.

Noodles: Good, slightly curly noodles, with an eggy taste, very easy to slurp. There were quite a lot of them in this deep bowl, actually!

Meat: Two small slices of delicious, crumbling chashu, with just what it should have of melting fat.

Egg: Half of a very well cooked egg with gooey yellow, on the hard side – although the white was a bit soft and could have been a bit more tasty.

Toppings: A few thin, long slices of pale bamboo – they did not really have the typical preserved taste of menma.


Overall, that was a great bowl, very Ibuki-like, and definitely worth trying. For information, they are closed on the third Saturday of each month, but as of August 2015, this still does not appear ramendb. Ramen shops of Japan, thank you in advance for updating your info on ramendb!

More info on ramendb.

Other review: Friends in Ramen

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Sanku (Osaka-shi, Fukushima-ku)

烈志笑魚油 麺香房三く
れっししょうゆ めんこうぼう さんく
Resshouyu Mengoubou Sanku

Kake ramen: 17 /20

We had plans to go to Komi to continue our Ra-Sai with Ben, but the shop was closed because of some accident, leaving us with only a sticker to fill our ramen-bingo-sheet. Fukushima was on our way back to the city, an area that offered the promise of a huge choice of ramen. We turned to Sanku, which Ben had already tried some time ago, and that I had unsuccessfully tried to visit a couple of months earlier. Only three persons in front of us, that’s a chance for such a famous shop!

We were first served some kind of simmered potato with a little bit of meat as an appetizer, a nice start.

I ordered their regular dish, the ‘kake ramen’.

Broth: It was salty, very fishy (with some slight pugency due, I presume, to niboshi), intense in taste, and had an interesting graininess in mouth. Delicious!

Noodles: Some curly, thin noodles - not bad, but I would expect something a bit more unique here.

Meat: Two large slices of a thick, onctuous, tender, melting chashu – just great.

Toppings: Some spinach (or maybe komatsuna?), as well as some long bits of hard, white negi. At the bottom of the bowl, I also got half of an iwashi (sardine), but it was slightly burned, and not-so-exceptional in taste.

Ben had the tsukemen, which had REALLY huge noodles, very thick and long (one noodle was enough for a mouthful!), but quite light in taste. The broth, a shoyu tori paitan / tonkotsu, had some kind of veggie texture and a very special taste, kind of fishy, definitely familiar but we couldn't put a name on it. I would rate it somewhere around 16/20, depending on the quality of the meat.

Finally, you get some very good desert made from coffee jelly bean.

Because of the diversity of small dishes, the very detailed explanations, and the friendliness, this shope does enter into the "excellent" category! And as I went out, I realized that they have a niboshi ramen, the gyusan ramen, I guess I’ll have to go back there.

More info on ramendb.

Other review: Friends in Ramen

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Shiki (Osaka-fu, Moriguchi-shi)

麺ゃ しき
めんや しき
Menya Shiki

Shiki-men (shoyu-niboshi ramen): 16 / 20

It was time to hurry up a little bit with the Ra-Sai ramen festival - I still had quite a few bowls to try to finish the stamp rally! On this day I went to Menya Shiki, a relatively isolated ramen shop, fifteen minutes away by subway north-est from Tenroku. Their menu features the Shiki Men (a shoyu-niboshi), a shio-niboshi, a mazemen, as well as a tori paitan tsukemen with tataki chicken. The choice was difficult but my love for niboshi was the strongest and I ordered the shoyu-niboshi, with curly noodles (you can also order straight ones if you prefer).

Broth: As my bowl was getting closer, I knew I had found a winner: the niboshi fragrances were making me hope for something seriously good here. And indeed, it was, a real niboshi bomb, the way I love them - what a delicious pungency! And it wasn't as fat as it looked like. It seems that shijimi is also used in the broth (as in Kuso Oyaji Saigo no Hitofuri).

Noodles: Good curly noodles, very easy to slurp. A lot of it!

Meat: The letdown of this bowl. You get two small, thin slices of overfatty kata-rosu, and one slice of bara that tasted like liver. Which is not my favorite thing in the world...

Toppings: A serious asset of this bowl: a few thin strands of kombu, which brought some crunchiness, as well as a great idea - a few bits of solid niboshi, crunchy under the tooth as they disaggregate, just wonderful! Also, a long, juicy menma branch with a relatively fresh taste. And a sheet of nori which - as usual - fits well with the niboshi broth.

This broth was great – it kind of reminded me the now defunct Hachi in Tokyo for the niboshi broth and the variety of chashu. Too bad the meat was not so convincing, otherwise it could have deserved a 17 / 20.

More info on ramendb.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Kokko (Osaka-shi, Kita-ku)

Shio Kokko

Shio ramen: 11 / 20

All the places I wanted to go to were close on this Saturday a-bit-too-late-in-the-afternoon, so I ended up at this shio-ramen restaurant not far from my home, which I had been curious to try when passing by.

Broth: A simple taste of chicken soup.

Noodles: Nothing remarkable.

Meat: Some elastic, salty, smoky chicken.

Toppings: Some beautiful purple and green negi, and kezurikatsuo.

An elegant but very unremarkable bowl. No need whatsoever to stop there. If that’s your only option, I would recommend eating something else than ramen - there are so many good options around in Tenjimbashisuji and Temma.

More info on ramendb.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Matsuzaka Gyumen (Osaka-fu, Suita-shi)

Matsuzaka Gyuumen (Suita-ten)

Matsuzaka Gyumen: 16 / 20
(松坂牛麺 )

Speak of an isolated ramen place! Seriously, who would think of opening a ramen shop one kilometer west from the far up north Yamada station? If he wanted quietness, that’s a miss: even on a Thursday evening at 20:00, a few people were queuing to eat there. What’s the reason? Not the elegant interior with a long, modern wooden counter. Neither the pleasant sencha nor the hot oshiburi that you get when you arrive. Certainly not the robotic waiter and waitress. No, the reason is simple: people come here for the unique-in-the-world carpaccio-ramen – locally known as the Matsuzaka Gyumen!

Broth: As you see it on the picture, you get served the broth separately from your bowl, and can then pour it as you like – in particular, on the beef meat that you see in the middle. Ingenious! The broth is a light but intense shio, very appreciable.

Noodles: Kind of whole grain noodles, which stick a little bit to each other and break easily under the teeth.

Meat: For me, the nice thing in pouring the broth by yourself is that you can choose how much you want to cook your meat. Rare? Just pour a bit of broth on it and the rest all around. Well-done? Just pour everything on it. You also get a few bits of fat hormon (offal).

Toppings: Some mizuna, as well as a slice of lemon that you can press in your broth for some enjoyable zing.

At 1030 yens, this bowl is not cheap, but all along worth it. If you’re broke, you can still switch to their other option, a kasu-ramen that I would really like to try some day. This ramen place is far away from everything, but it is unique in its style – or nearly unique, since there is a twin shop in Nishinomiya. If you like ramen-oddities, don’t miss it!

More info on ramendb.