Saturday, July 18, 2009
No post yesterday, but I did have the ramen so I'll write a double today. We went outside Tokyo yesterday to visit a friend. We had also heard from her that there was a good ramen place near her station which we decided to try on the way. Itsuki ramen was supposed to be wonderful, the only problem was it turned out that this was not Itsuki ramen. Thanks Google Maps. Whatever this place was, there was a line outside and I got in it. The funny part was that this place seemed like it might be really good. They are billed as having a good broth, made from tai (red snapper) and shio (salt). That is exactly what I ordered with an egg. I waited for it to come as I looked at some of the other "innovative" bowls my fellow diners were enjoying. One had bell peppers on top in three colors and, of all things, a slice of bread! Sure, why not top it off with some mashed potato too.
The soup came and looked good enough, the smell of the fish was pungent, and this was obviously not for those who don't like fish. I do, and this was what I had ordered, so I couldn't possible take points off for the soup smelling, or tasting, like tai. The noodles were a different story, thick and gummy, they left a lot to be desired. The pork as well was square, and seemed to have been seared on all sides and sliced rather than braised. This of course made for a tough mess of what should have been a nice piece of pork. Its difficult to see, but under that nori is two blocks of menma. Menma, preserved bamboo shoots, are usually sliced so that they blend nicely with the noodle offering a nice addition to the flavor of the noodle. This was an attept at innovation, it floundered as I'm sure the bread did. This was not good ramen.
1 and 1/2 bowls
Sunday morning I was back at it. This time only a few short blocks from the house at a place that my brother-in-law Yas-san and his son said was pretty good, Manpuku Ramen. I ordered the tonkotsu with chashu and negi. This was a small shop, and had a very mom and pop feel. When the soup arrived, it looked great. The broth whitish, with just the right amount of oil on top in small bubbles rather than a slick of grease. The chashu, five generous slices, was arranged around the perimeter of the bowl. In the center were menma, propperly sliced this time and a small pile of green onions. The bowl was finished off with a single piece of nori at the left.
Looks great, but wasn't. The noodles were ok, and the soup did have good flavors, but there was a lack of salt here that left the soup, and hence everything it was supposed to flavor, bland. I added some pepper, sesame seeds and nori flakes to try to give it some more appeal, but no luck. The pork was not rolled and wasn't soft enough, though it was not chewy either. The spinach was just slightly over boiled as well. This was a bowl that was not without promise or beyond rescue, but it wasn't great.
I gave this 2 1/2 bowls.
Posted by Sean at 11:18 PM