Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pork Fever

Today I went to Saikai Ramen, a shop I have been to in three of the last four years. The first year, not really understanding what the difference was between ramen dishes, I told my sister-in-law, "I'll have what you recommend." That was this bowl, tonkotsu (I know again but I wanted to get this right) ramen with mountain vegetables and one slice of pork. That time we were at a branch of Saikai that is somewhere out in the sticks, actually it may not be that far but I had no concept of Tokyo geography at that point. It was memorable, so memorable in fact that two years later (last year) I asked if we could go there again and was told that there was a branch of Saikai in a local shopping center near Hashimoto. We went last year and when Chizuko, my sister-in-law suggested that we go again I jumped at the chance.

This time however I went with the chashu ramen. I know, many of the ramen we've seen so far have had chashu, but when you order "chashu ramen" you get extra. I hadn't had any breakfast to speak of so a little extra pork sounded just like what the doctor ordered, though not my doctor. What you can see nicely here is that this is a smaller piece of pork which is typically rolled and tied when it is braised. While we're on the subject of toppings, the green stuff has been identified as a seaweed by the family, but I'm not convinced, seemed a bit too hearty almost like a mustard green without the bitterness. There are also two slices of a variety of pickled ginger at center which are a variety I have only previously seen shredded. Some green onions, preserved bamboo shoots and toasted sesame seeds round it out. The chashu was good, but didn't have that soft-as-butter consistency I consider optimal, though it was not tough by any stretch.

The story in this case was the noodles. When Rumi asked if I wanted my noodles a little spicy or regular I assumed she was talking about the soup. Saikai however offers a "spicy noodle" something I have not seen until now. It was different to be sure, so I went for it. They were only slightly spicy, but the difference was noticeable and not just a gimmick. I have however a small criticism here, I ordered mine al-dente, they were past that. Actually in one case there was a small clump where they were stuck. The cook had obviously forgot the noodles in the pot. Sorry, you guys lose a point here.

The soup was wonderful, not too salty and I added just a bit of yusu-kosho, a blend of a citrus fruit and pepper and gave it another interesting layer. So good I drank it all.
I ate that last noodle too. I gave it 4 1/2 bowls, nobody else's noodles were overcooked.


  1. This one looks good, but still not topping my list like the one in the local knowledge post. Do any of the places allow you to go in and say what you want in the bowl? One thing I really like about it is the individuality of each place. Question is, if you go to the place next door and order Chasu Ramen, does it look the same as it does at this place or do they each put a spin on it? Noodle on my wayward son...

  2. Usually chashu ramen has more chashu, sometimes 10 or 12 slices. They are actually a bit light at 5. Other than that they have their own twist for sure, but you can ask for whatever you want. I usually let it come the way it does so I can judge them on what they think is good. Tomorrow Ramen museum in Yokohama

  3. Dood, the clump certainly sounds like bad form...