Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Okuya (Osaka-fu, Toyonaka-shi)

ラーメン おくや
らーめん おくや
Ramen Okuya

Tonkotsu ramen: 13 / 20

This restaurant next to Ishibashi station opened maybe six months ago but I still hadn’t the occasion to taste it. I was soon leaving the area so I finally gave it a try.

Broth: A relatively light tonkotsu sprinkled with sesame seeds.

Noodles: Barikata, as ordered.

Meat: The strong asset of this otherwise average bowl: a couple of small, deliciously fatty melting chashu.

Toppings: You can help yourself on a buffet at the back of the restaurant with ginger, moyashi (bean sprouts) and other usual tonkotsu-toppings.

Nothing exceptional, and Ittoryuu nearby may be better (though it is a niboshi shoyu, so it depends on your taste), but you could easily find worse than this place in the area - which, I'm afraid, offers no wonders.

More info on ramendb.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Nanbantei (Osaka-fu, Toyonaka-shi)


Shiroramen (ninniku iru): 10 / 20
My bus had been driving past this ramen nearly every weekday for one year, but its low ranking on ramendb did not really make me want to eat there. Leaving Toyonaka soon, I thought that I could give it a try though. I ordered the local’s special, the shiroramen - with garlic.

Broth: Imagine that Campbell would decide some day to make some industrial tonkotsu soup: then it would probably taste like that. The tonkotsu aroma is there, it’s not bad, but well, you can find thousands of better broth in Japan.

Noodles: Overcooked.

Meat: Probably the best part of this bowl, 5 or 6 small bits of not-unpleasant chashu.

Toppings: Some moyashi. No menma.

So I had what I expected. At 500 yen for a bowl, it’s difficult to complain though - so if you are totally broke and in a desperate need of a ramen bowl, you might consider to eat there (it is located in the middle of what might be the most ramen-deprived area of northern Osaka). Otherwise, don’t. Personally, I would definitely rather do the 700m trip to Marushou.

More info on ramendb.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Yasube (Osaka-shi, Chūō-ku)

つけ麺屋 やすべえ (道頓堀店)
つけめんや やすべえ
Tsukemenya Yasubee

Tsukemen: 14 / 20
(つけ麺 )

I had already been to this ramen shop just next to the canal, but it was before I started that blog, so I gave it another try. It is, as far as I know, the only branch in Osaka of a chain with quite a few places in Tokyo. They specialize in tsukemen, that you can order up to the mega-gigantic scale (which, I had learnt last time, is definitely TOO big for my stomach). This time I took the regular, middle size (you can also order the tsukemen with spicy broth).

Broth: A relatively thin broth that does not stick so much to the noodles, slightly sweet and spicy. The soup wari was pleasant - they give you some dashi on the side to add to your broth to your liking - but maybe not enough, I thought it was still too thick to drink (but I'm sure you can ask for more).

Noodles: Thick, chewy, eggy and maybe lack a little bit of salt (but of course the broth makes up more than enough for this).

Meat: The usual long pork bites in the broth.

Toppings: Long, thin slices of mild and sweetish menma. A dry slice of nori.

So you have here a good tsukemen, but not exceptional. A couple of hundreds meters from there, you can find Suzume which might be better in my memory.

More info on ramendb.

The chain's website.

Other reviews: Friends in Ramen, and for the Tokyo shops: Ramenate, Enjoy Ramen, Ramen-Otaku, Tokyo Dining Out

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Ichifuku (Osaka-fu, Toyonaka-shi)

元祖博多屋台 一福
がんそはかたやたい いちふく

Motsumiso tonkotsu ramen: 12 / 20

I had been a couple of time already to this ramen shop, close to Handai Toyonaka campus, which serves a no-thrill, ultra-classical Hakata ramen. I wanted to try it a last time, this time with a little twist, so I ordered the ramen with motsumiso (offal miso).

Broth: A very classical Hakata broth, which totally changes when eaten with the motsumiso. It then becomes more salty and… different. Not better, just different, and in a kind of not-so-interesting-though-reasonably-pleasant way.

Noodles: Barikata, as I ordered them.

Meat: A few thin slices of uninteresting chashu, as it is unfortunately much too often the case with Hakata ramen. The offal in the motsumiso does not taste like motsu and is not especially interesting either.

Toppings: Lots of negi, no menma (as usual in Hakata ramen).

Nothing bad here, but also nothing very exciting. The motsumiso brings a kind of original twist, but it is not enough to make the ramen especially recommendable. I would rather advise to order the basic, classical tonkotsu bowl - it's solid enough for some pleasant Hakata-feel.

More info on ramendb.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Hanamichi (Osaka-fu, Minō-shi)

Menshou Hanamichi

Wakame miso ramen: 12 / 20 

This ramen chain features three families of ramen (shoyu-tonkotsu, miso-tonkotsu, and spicy miso-tonkotsu), and a tsukemen. I ordered the miso-tonkotsu with wakame, with a very generous dose of garlic (ninniku tappuri).

Broth: Neither the tonkotsu nor the miso taste were very strong – it was pleasant in a kind of unremarkable way, and too salty. Fortunately, the garlic spiked the whole thing.

Noodles: OK.

Meat: A few small slices of a melting, very decent chashu.

Egg: Half of an overcooked egg.

Toppings: It may have been the first time I explicitly ordered my ramen with wakame. Well, I’m not convinced, I don’t think that the marine taste fitted very well with the miso-tonkotsu (and it is a gyoukai-tonkotsu fan who says that!).

Overall, nothing remarkable here: if you like ramen, you will probably like that, but as you would like many other places in Japan.

More info on ramendb.

Other review: Friends in ramen (another location)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Marusho (Osaka-fu, Toyonaka-shi)

Menya Marushou

Chuka soba Yuuyake : 15 / 20
(中華そば 夕焼け)

Second visit to this not-so-famous-but-remarkable northern restaurant. This time, I ordered the chuka soba in its niboshi version (there are four different declinaisons of it), with ajitama.

Broth: The niboshi taste was not so strong, but definitely present. Subtly pleasant.

Noodles: Linguine-shaped and katame, very delicious.

Meat: One slice of so-so chashu - the fatty part was a bit too crunchy.

Egg: Not bad, but the yolk was a bit too hard, unfortunately.

Toppings: Some microgreen and negi - no menma surprisingly!

This ramen suffers a bit from suboptimal meat and egg - it is definitely not worth ordering the ajitama. But the broth and the noodles form a simple-but-delicious ensemble. The mazesoba I ate on my first visit was more remarkable overall, though.

More info on ramendb.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

IKR51 (Osaka-shi, Chūō-ku)


KS51Z shio kasu ramen: 14 / 20

Hidden in a small alley in a building, you might easily miss this restaurant, so just remember it is located next to the Ippudo. They specialize in seafood-oriented meals, with massive ikura-don, but of course also feature many ramen dishes, which happen to have quite esoteric name. I ordered the KS51Z (sic) shio ramen - KS stands for "kazu".

Broth: A distinctive shrimp taste, a bit too salty but pleasant - with some yuzu notes.

Noodles: Very yellow, curly and brittle.

Egg: An ajitama with a relatively hard and dark yolk, but well cooked though.

Toppings: Some bits of what tasted like a mix between tofu and cheese - could it be the kasu? And a very long branching menma, again the BASSANOVA style (how is it that I keep seeing it around now although I had never encountered any before my visit to BASSANOVA?? probably some kind of attentional bias behind it)

My friend ordered the ebi shoyu ramen, which had a very original and enjoyable taste, a bit difficult to characterize (I may give it a 15/20). Add to this a homey atmosphere (you can seat at one of the few low tables), and you get an interesting place that should be recommended. Also, you can order udon or kaisen-don if you’re not that much into ramen (but then you would probably not read this blog in a first place).

More info on ramendb.

Other reviews: Ramen adventures, Friends in ramen.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Sakurazaka (Tōkyō-to, Shibuya-ku)

中華ソバ 櫻坂
ちゅうかそば さくらざか
Chuuka Soba Sakurazaka

Tsukesoba: 17 / 20

This ramen joint just south of Shibuya station is kind of a fame. I went there and tried the tonkotsu gyokai tsukemen with ajitama.

Broth: Quite liquid for a gyokai-tonktosu tsukemen, it maybe lacked a little bit of adhesion to the noodles. Did I taste a hint of yuzu? Anyway, it had a very pleasant spiciness. The soup wari, however, did not bring anything special

Noodles: Not so thick, not so tasty, but the right mochiness - wait a minute, didn’t I just write this somewhere else??

Meat: A very crumbly and melting, high quality chashu, quite convincing.

Egg: The regular tsukemen already comes with half an egg (not ajitama, and very average), so I ended up with 1,5 eggs! The ajitama egg had a very liquid, savory yolk. Excellent, but that was too much egg for a single dish, they should definitely remove the default half egg.

Toppings: A very large, branching menma, kind of the same you would get at BASSANOVA - a rarity in my experience.

The subtle broth combined with a very convincing chashu and ajitama make it deserve a 17 / 20 and enter into the ‘excellent’ category.

My friend ordered the shio/tori paitan ramen:

This bowl was much less convincing (Campbell chicken soup, anyone?), I strongly recommend not ordering it.

More info on ramendb.

Other reviews (it seems that there is a consensus here against the shio/tori paitan): Ramen Adventures, Ramen is love, Ramen-otaku

Hamaya (Tōkyō-to, Shinagawa-ku)


Ebi-karashi tsukesoba: 16 / 20

A few hundred meters from Gotanda station, this pleasant restaurant is relatively isolated from anything of interest. But as I was soon about to discover, its ebi-karashi (‘shrimp-mustard’) tsukesoba is worth the trip.

Broth: A relatively sweet, thin broth (I mean, thin for a tonkotsu gyokai tsukemen), it gets a delicious shrimp-spiciness when you mix in the special karashi. Moreover, the soup wari add an interesting twist – maybe more on the gyokai (seafood) side.

Noodles: Not so thick, not so tasty, but they have the right 'mochiness' (elasticity) and do the job.

Meat: The letdown of this bowl: a large, relatively thin slice of chashu that falls into parts and does not have any especially remarkable taste.

Toppings: A few thin, crunchy, sweet menma.

Despite the average chashu, the shrimp-spiced broth is definitely something to try. If you like shrimp, do not miss this bowl.

More info on ramendb.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Ikaruga (Tōkyō-to, Chiyoda-ku)

九段 斑鳩
くだん いかるが

Abura soba: 17 / 20

***UPDATE: The shop has moved.***

I had been already a couple of times at Ikaruga to try their very unique, creamy - and delicious! - tonkotsu ramen, but my memories of their abura soba dated from my last meal in Tokyo before leaving the country four years earlier. With quite a few more ramen under my belt, I was curious to try it again. You can order it in varying degrees of garlic content – out of compassion for my friends around, I chose the lowest one.

Noodles: An interesting mix of thin and thicker noodles, I’ve never seen such a combination anywhere else. The katame, thicker noodles are kind of coated under the softer, thinner one, a really nice find!

Meat: A few bits of meat, nothing special.

Egg: You get served an ontama with parmesan to mix in your noodles, for the carbonara experience.

Topping: A few bits of salad and negi, as well as some very pleasant crunchy croutons. As usual, you can add as much vinegar as you want.

This is a very essentialized abura soba, one of the most carbonara-like I ever tasted – but a very convincing one, as well as quite original with the dual-noodles system. If you like abura soba, you have to try this. As a note, this is also a very pleasant place, with a very restaurant-like atmosphere, ideal for a date (except for the garlic content of the abura soba!).

More info on ramendb.

Other reviews:
- of Ikaruga's abura soba: Ramen Tokyo, Ii tokoro ne
- of Ikaruga's other dishes: Ramenate, Ramen Adventures, NY Times, Dairycream, No ramen no life, AFAR, Enjoy ramen, Ramen Otaku, Gastronomy

Friday, October 10, 2014

Miharu (Tōkyō-to, Shibuya-ku)

らーめん 瞠 (恵比寿店)
らーめん みはる
Ramen Miharu

Abura soba: 16 / 20

This ramen place has quite a variety of different dishes. They used to feature an ebi (shrimp)-tsukemen which I would have loved to compare with Gominokami Seisakujo, but this dish is not anymore on the menu. I went with the abura soba (soupless noodles with an oily sauce), having not eaten so many of them in the past.

Noodles: High quality noodles, firm and curly, that fit very pleasantly with the vinegary sauce.

Meat: A few bits of very fat meat cut in long slices - you might want to cut them in two (and of course to mix them vigorously with all the rest, as it should be in abura soba), to dilute these concentrated bits of fatness in the rest of the bowl.

Egg: A well-cooked ajitama, on the firm side, but gooey enough to my taste.

Toppings: Some katsuoboshi, green and white negi (a bit too much of the white one, to my taste); some menma cut in cubes - very soft and very mild; and a sheet of nori. You can also help yourself in garlic tabasco, pepper and spices.

Everything is quite good here, but it lacks a little bit of something special to pass over the 16-grade wall. Actually I saw when leaving the shop that you can order the abura soba with mayo - maybe that would be the touch that could push it to a 17? I guess I’ll have to come back to try it some day. There are worse duties in the world.

More info on ramendb.

Other reviews: Ramen Tokyo, Ramen Road

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Gonokami Seisakujo (Tōkyō-to, Shibuya-ku)

つけ麺 五ノ神製作所
つけめん ごのかみせいさくじょ
Tsukemen Gonokamiseisakujou

Ebi-tsukemen (with ajitama): 16 / 20

This restaurant is famous for having one of the most intense shrimp broth you will find around. Obviously, I had to try this oddity. I arrived at 1 pm and waited only 10-15 minutes (it seemed that the queue did not decrease until 1:45 pm). I ordered the ebi-tsukemen (they also feature a version with tomato, and another one flavored with miso), with ajitama.

Broth: As expected, this is a shrimp-bomb. Imagine that you take ten kilograms of shrimps and mix them a dozen of time until you get the very essence of that taste: that describes quite well what you get here in one bowl. After I added the wari soup at the end, I could not even perceive the shrimp taste anymore: my tastebuds had been fully shrimp-desensitized.

Noodles: Thick, very mochi-mochi whole grain noodles - with an actual taste of whole grains.

Meat: A few long pieces of chashu, some of them quite bland, some of them nicely tasting like French 'petit salé’ (salted pork).

Egg: It had an interesting taste (difficult to characterize - maybe flowery?), but was overcooked. Disappointing for such a famous ramen place, I do not recommend ordering it.

Toppings: Some triangular, slightly sweet vegetables, and a fibrous, very salted menma.

I might be slightly less enthusiastic than shrimp-afficionados about this restaurant, but it's definitely worth the experience. I would be curious to come back to try their tomato version - especially since it looks like I forgot to order the cheese toast.

More information on ramendb.

Other reviews: Ramen Adventures 1, Ramen Adventures 2, Go Ramen!, Chowhound