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.