Sunday, July 12, 2009
Ever since I came up with the ridiculous idea to try to write about ramen, I've been thinking of going back to Jangara. I've eaten here for the past two years that I have visited Tokyo and the place is extremely popular. I was on my own again, but it was ok because the place has an English menu.
I went with the Ko Ban Shan Ramen today, a soup of rich garlic and pork flavor. This was partly out of a desire to have something different and partly an f-you to the guy who gave me the menu and told me another was the most popular, as if that meant that was the one to eat. At 1,100 yen, the prices here are steep.
The place was crowded and even though it was 11:00 in the morning, I had to wait about five minutes or so for a seat at the counter. It's all counter, there are no tables here. The line that divides the stairway and has arrows pointing up and down is further indicator that around lunchtime the lines here get pretty long.
The gentleman behind the counter took the chip that I was given at the register when I paid on the way in and gave the order to the fellow you see here who put the bowl together. Notice the graphic in the foreground. This is a friendly reminder that when the soup makes your nose run, which it surely will, it is impolite to put your snotty tissues on the counter. It is better to put them in your empty bowl after you have eaten. Ahh, the gentle reminder of good manners. The smells in this place were absolutely killing me folks, it smelled wonderful. there was an intensity and a bustle to the atmosphere, I began to get excited.
Clockwise from the top, nori just above the pork belly, at 3 cod roe in front of the mushrooms we talked about yesterday, at 6, 'Kakiniku' pork, at nine the egg. In the center holding it all together a reasonable amount of green onion. The toppings here are a strong 4/5 losing a point only because the egg, which is marinated again but not sliced, was boiled through. The pork, two ways no less was heavenly and there were ample amounts of the other toppings. But lets take a minute to talk about the cod roe. I'm not usually much of a fan of fish eggs, except a few of the smaller ones and I really can't stomach cod roe at all. This however, blended into a paste of sorts that is a little spicy actually has a nice flavor, if a little salty. I'm not sure if this is meant to be eaten straight, or whisked into the broth. I whisked it in and it was actually pretty good. Two kinds of pork just can't be a bad decision, but I think I would have preferred that they second wasn't chopped. Still, it's nice to have a change.
The broth was a nice change as well. Being a huge garlic junky, I went right for this one. The flavor was intense and indeed my nose began to run with the first spoonful of broth. The one criticism here would be a bit too much salt, maybe only combined with the cod roe, but this was the kind of sodium show that would get taxed in David Patterson's NY.
You might notice that I have yet to mention the noodles, that's because there weren't enough of them to mention. They were the thin style again, cooked perfectly, but just lacking in the amount. In Japan I'm surprised there is no law governing the "right" amount of noodles in a bowl of ramen.
Overall a good bowl of soup. Not perfect, but good and a bit different from what we've seen. I gave it 4 bowls.