Tuesday, October 22, 2013

大つけ麺博 Grand Tsukemen Fest: 竹本商店 Takemoto Shoten and 博多一幸舎 Hakata Ikkosha

Let's go, round two of the Tsukehaku! Autumn cold makes me crave tsukemen even more than usual.

Like last week, we made an informed decision to choose two different styles of shops. Every time I go to a festival like this, I wish I could there was some way to prevent stomachaches so I could eat bowl after bowl like a ramen black hole.

The first shop we tried was Takemoto Shoten. I think this is their second year, and from what I recall, they were quite popular last year.

Takemoto is from Akita prefecture in the northern part of Japan, an area famous for its high quality livestock and seafood. Takemoto's signature tsukemen uses these ingredients to full effect.

Hinajidori to ebinibo tsukemen (850yen)

The soup is topped with small dried shrimp, which creates a great aroma.

To be honest, I'm not a big fan of ramen with shrimp, or shrimp toppings, or even shrimp-flavored stock, but I actually really liked Takemoto's take. It was clean, without any icky, fishy aftertaste, and deep chicken flavor using regional Hinajidori fowl.

The slices of chopped lemon made for a great accent to the shrimpy soup!

The second sampled shop was Hakata Ikkosha, which translates to "happy Hakata people" and is, naturally, from Hakata, Kyushu.

We thought Ikkosha would do something similar to Vigiya in creating an all-pork bone broth, but Ikkosha instead brought out the staple tonkotsu gyokai, a pork and fish blend broth.

Ikkosha noukou tonkotsu gyokai tsukemen (850yen)

Living and eating tsukemen in Tokyo, this taste is all too familiar. We were expecting thin noodles like a Hakata bowl of ramen, but Ikkosha's noodles were surprisingly the springiest and most elastic we've yet encountered at the Tsukehaku. The pork was, unsurprisingly, outstanding.

This is the second Kyushu shop we've tried already, so we apologize for not spreading the Love around. Hearts just really loves Kyushu-style shops, We promise the coming weeks will be more representative of the rest of Japan.

Festivals often have quality control issues serving each bowl exactly the same, but I've been really satisfied with the level of bowls served thus far. Check back in next week for round three!


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