Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Ryukishin (Osaka-fu, Izumisano-shi)

龍旗信 (関西空港店)

Shio ramen: 15 / 20

On my way to Europe, it was time for a last ramen before a two-weeks-long abstinence. Of the three Kansai airport ramen shop listed on ramendb, Ryukishin was the most appealing.

Broth: A pleasant shio broth, with some peppery ending (I recommend mixing the soup before eating, in order to homogeneize the spiciness content).

Noodles: A bit too soft for my taste.

Meat: A delightful chashu, alterning robust lean part and melting fat.

Toppings: Some long white negi and rings of green negi, a few thin menma with a very mild taste, a slice of nori and one of kamaboko.

This is indeed a good shio ramen, especially for its chashu. I just wish they would find another system to warn you that your ramen is ready: they provide you with a portable alarm, and lucky you if you don't get a heart attack when it rings...

More info on ramendb.

Other reviews: Friends in ramen

UPDATE: see my review of Kyoto Ryukishin's reimen here

Monday, June 16, 2014

Tatsu No Ya (Tokyo, Shinjuku-ku)

龍の家 (新宿小滝橋通り店)

Tonkotsu ramen (kokuaji): 17 / 20

At the time I tried it, Tatsunoya was the 5th most highly ranked tonkotsu of the capital. After having tried Hakata ramen center, and leaving Kanto in the evening from Shinjuku, there was only one sensible thing to do: compare it with Tatsunoya. I chose the black bowl, koku ramen.

Broth: Very good tonkotsu broth. It seems that there is a thin layer of fat on top, so you may want to mix your bowl before sipping it.

Noodles: I ordered them barikata. I would say they were katame. Fine for me.

Meat: Two slices of chashu, relatively thin (but not as much as at Hakata ramen Center, and definitely better). Melting and chewy at the same time, with a mild but delightful taste.

Egg: A very-well cooked ajitma with gooey yellow, which could rival with the ajitama you would find in the best tonkotsu gyokai tsukemen places of the capital.

Topping: The kikurage were somewhat tastier and less plastic-ish than at Hakata ramen center. Some soy sprouts with a little bit of spicy miso, which bring a nice twist between two sips of classical tonkotsu taste. Of course, you can add as usual goma powder, some (average) green vegetables and ginger, but (shocking!) no garlic. Also, while waiting for your bowl, you can help yourself with some spicy, oily bean sprouts - not bad.

Overall, this was a very good tonkotsu ramen, and not a single part of it did disappoint me. This was a better experience than Hakata ramen center and Tamagatta, although I would rate Ishimanji's black tonkotsu higher (sorry, Tokyo people!). With some fresh garlic, it could have earned an 18.

More info on ramendb.
Other review of several Tatsunoya shops: Ramenate, Go Ramen, Great Food in Japan, Ramen Ramen Ramen, Ericakjordan, Ramen loving

Hakata ramen center (Tokyo, Chiyoda-ku)


Tonkotsu special ramen (特製ラーメン): 14 / 20

After having looked for some of the best shio ramen in Tokyo during my last short stay, I was now chasing tonkotsu. Quite far from Kyushu, Tokyo is not especially famous for its tonkotsu ramen, and it seems that you won’t find as many wonders here as you would for gyokai tonkotsu tsukemen or niboshi ramen. Anyway, I went to the (at the time) 7th most highly ranked tonkotsu restaurant of the capital city on ramendb, conveniently located near the pleasant area of Iidabashi.

Broth: Quite assari tonkotsu, more liquid than the one I tried the day before at Tamagatta. A hint of after-taste infused it with some street-character - closing my eyes, I could imagine myself at a yatai in Fukuoka. Quite good broth overall.

Noodles: Too soft - surprisingly, they didn’t ask me how I wanted my noodles cooked (admittedly, this was partly my fault, as I also forgot to tell)

Egg: A reasonably good ajitama, the white part has a strong taste, but the yolk was slightly overcooked. Very decent though.

Meat: Two thin slices of unremarkable, thin chashu.

Toppings: A sheet of nori, some negi, some kikurage (without any real taste, and quite elastic). Of course, you can help yourself of some greens, ginger and - good point! - fresh garlic.

This was a good ramen, but not an exceptional one - I would say that its rating on ramendb is slightly overestimated.

More information on ramendb.
The website of the restaurant.
Other reviews: Tokyo corners, Iitokorone

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Tamagatta (Kanagawa-ken, Yokohama-shi)

九州大分らぁめん たまがった西口店
きゅうしゅうおおいたらぁめん たまがった

Tonkotsu ramen (with side-order of miso paste): 16 / 20

We tried with my friend to go to the famous Yoshimuraya (home of iekei style!) on a sunday evening. Well, that’s not a good idea: at 8 pm, around 30 people were still queuing. Not being in the mood to wait one hour or more, even for an excellent ramen, we switched to another option, a reasonably highly rated tonkotsu ramen in the area.

Broth: A quite creamy and pleasant tonkotsu. You can buy for 20 yens a side-order of karai (spicy) thick miso paste. It actually blended very well with the broth and gave an interesting twist.

Noodles: Barikata, katame, whatever else, up to you. Nothing to say more.

Meat: Two thin slices of salty chashu. I tend to prefer thick chashu, but this was not unpleasant.

Topping: Two sheets of nori, some negi.

A good tonkotsu overall, the miso paste definitely brought something to this otherwise quite classical tonkotsu. Too bad that they only serve garlic paste rather than fresh garlic. I also do not recommend their ‘special sauce’ which did not bring much more flavor than salt.

More information on ramendb.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Ishimanji (Osaka-fu, Toyonaka-shi)


Black tonkotsu ramen: 18 / 20

For some reason, you won’t find this ramen place on ramendb. I cannot explain that, as it is located in the big commercial center of Senri Chuo, amongst plenty of other restaurants. And it’s good, very good. I went there several time and tried most if not all all of their recipes (they have 5 or 6 different styles), but this review will be about one of my favorite, the black tonkotsu.

Broth: A relatively assari tonkotsu with some black sesame juice, extremely pleasant and tasty, flavored with good dry garlic (yes, I said 'good' one – most of the dry garlic around does not taste good, but this one is an exception)

Noodles: Thin, straight, barikata (at least if you order them so). What else?

Chashu: Two slices of an absolutely delicious chashu, slightly braised, alternating firm lean part with melting fat.

Toppings:  Crunchy soy sprouts, kikurage, red chili stripes. Also, two menma - one large and one thick -  both a bit sweet and quite tasty.

I’m probably biased here: this is exactly the kind of assari tonkotsu broth that I love, very Ippudo-like. Combined with great chashu, this is not far from perfection to me. I should try again the egg some day, to see how it fares. This is your best ramen choice if you are in Senri Chuo, and an excellent one in northern Osaka.

UPDATE (2015): Finally, it can be found on ramendb!

More information on tabelog.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Mitsukabozu (Osaka-fu, Toyonaka-shi)

味噌らーめん みつか坊主
みそらーめん みつかぼうず
Miso ramen Mitsukabouzu

Red miso ramen: 17 / 20

In the isolated suburbs of Hotarugaike, not too far from Itami airport, you willl find one of the most highly-rated miso ramen of Kansai (actually, it is currently the most highly ranked miso ramen of Osaka on ramendb). Mitsukabozu (or Mitsukabose, as they rather seems to like to be called) looks more like a restaurant than like a local ramen joint, with many tables, as well as two counters, and a simple but pleasant atmosphere. They specialize in both a red miso and a white miso ramen. I had the red miso ramen.

Broth: A rich, heavy (but not so heavy compared to other miso ramen) and tasty broth. As often with miso, there is an after-taste that some people may find unpleasant, but it was bearable for me (compared to the slightly overwhelming taste of e.g. the famous Kururi in Tokyo).

Noodles: Slightly curvy, middle-sized.

Meat: A couple of slices of a very firm chashu - a bit salty, but good. A couple of not-so-remarkable meatballs also.

Topping: Some thick, crunchy menma, with a surprising peppery taste - quite good.

This is definitely a high-quality miso ramen. My friend ordered the seasonal "special kansai daitayama" (I think, not sure about the name anymore), supposedly "healthier". It was even better than my bowl, with a slightly more fishy broth flavored with coriander, very umami. The taste was more complex and lasted longer, and the noodles thinner. Next time, I will try this one if it is still on the menu.

More information on ramendb.

Other review: Friends in Ramen 1 (for the KANSAI bowl), Friends in Ramen 2 (for the Umeda shop)

The restaurant's website.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Roku San Roku (Osaka-shi, Chūō-ku)

麺や 六三六大阪総本店
めんや ろくさんろく
Menya Roku San Roku

Niboshi reimen: 15 / 20

Rokusanroku is one of the most highly ranked ramen restaurant around Hankyu Umeda. I have been there a few times and have never been disappointed. They specialize in tonkotsu gyokai tsukemen, but on this hot day, I wanted to try their special summer's niboshi reimen.

Broth: A not-too-strong niboshi broth, quite pleasant, cooled with ice, and flavored with goma seeds. You can also add some karashi (mustard) to your bowl, but I did not really get the point of doing so.

Noodles: Katame and good.

Meat: OK, tender chashu.

Egg: Half of a very average, hard-boiled egg.

Overall, a refreshing experience for the summer, that you will enjoy if you like niboshi reimen. I just wish they would cook their egg better, or simply remove it from the bowl - there is no point in eating such an average egg.

Tonkotsu-gyokai tsukemen

I also tasted a sip of the tonkotsu gyokai tsukemen my friend ordered. I did not eat enough to write a full review, but the broth is quite interesting, supplemented by torigara (chicken bones) to make it thicker, and including vegetables and potatoes for a more veggie-tasted experience than your regular tonkotsu gyokai. Quite pleasant.

More information on ramendb.

Other reviews: Friendsinramen, Picrumb.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Choboichi (Kobe, Chūō-ku)


Tori paitan: 16 / 20

This small ramen joint is an offshot of a restaurant specialized in chicken, and opened recently in February 2014 for the 5th season of Sannomiya station's ramen road. Very naturally, they specialize in a chicken broth.

Broth: Assari chicken broth with sesame seeds, which tastes a bit like a tonkotsu. Quite pleasant – it’s a nice change from the usual kotteri chicken broth. Moreover, you get yuzushio that you can add to the bowl for a delicious twist to the taste!

Meat: A few small, firm slices of pleasant chashu. It had the usual shape but tasted differently, could it be chicken chashu ? Also, there were a couple of meatballs, much better-tasting and with a crunchier consistency than the regular tasteless meatballs.

Noodles: Curly and OK cooking, not very firm, but not too soft.

Toppings: Some negi.

Shoyu ramen: 13 / 20

One week later, I came back and tried their shoyu ramen.

Broth: Classical shoyu, not unpleasant but a bit too salty.

Noodles: Thin and katame.

Meat: Good firm chashu, slightly sweet.

Toppings: Some green negi, a slice of kamiboko. Some thick menma with a classical mild taste, not so fibrous.

Although it was not unpleasant, this bowl was much more unremarkable than the tori paitan, except for its quality chashu. But I’m rarely excited by classical shoyu broth, so if you’re a fan, you might give it a try.

In any case, it is a good place for a tori paitan, conveniently located in sannomioya station and open during the whole afternoon (it closes relatively early though).

More information on ramendb.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Sou (Hyogo-ken, Nishinomiya-shi)

ラーメン荘 これが好きだから
らーめんそう これがすきだから

Jiro ramen (yasai mashi, ninniku mashi): 16 / 20

5 minutes away from JR Nishinomiya station, this restaurant specializes in jiro ramen. This evening again, I was not meeting anyone, so I figured out it was a good occasion for a jiro ramen and its traditional garlic pile. I don’t know so much about jiro ramen, although I loved the few I have tried, so what I can say about it must be taken with a grain of salt. I ordered the ramen with a small portion of meat (that was already a lot), and a small portion of noodles (given all the toppings, 200g noodles were far enough); but in case you haven't eaten in a week, you can get for the same price the regular portion (300g noodles), or the big one (400g) - just attach a color peg to your plastic ticket to indicate the desired size. I ordered my ramen with all toppings: yasai (vegetables), ninniku (garlic), abura (fat), karame (‘spicyness’), with an extra order of vegetables (yasai mashi) and garlic (ninniku mashi), making the whole thing a tiny little bit less unhealthy.


Broth: The usual fat tonkotsu-shoyu broth that you get in jiro ramen shops. It was good, but it is definitely not advisable to finish it (and no one does, as far as I can see), given all the suspended fat inside it.

Noodles: Firm, large noodles characteristic of jiro, slightly curly. Very good.

Meat: A few tasty, roughly cut slices of pork, some quite lean, some fatter.

Toppings: A huge pile of soy sprouts and cabbage (‘mashi’, remember?), sprinkled by a generous amount of garlic (I could have gone ‘mashi mashi’ here...)

I think this was only the fifth jiro ramen I ever had, but I found it quite good, although I was slightly more impressed by Dokamori Maccho in Sannomiya one week earlier - especially by its noodles and  broth. But both are very recommended if you enjoy or want to discover jiro ramen. The waiter was extremely watchful and friendly, congratulating me at the end for finishing everything in my bowl but the remaining fatty juice.

More information on ramendb.