Friday, February 21, 2014

中華料理 大宝 Taiho: tanmen at work

Lest you think Nakamoto is representative of the typical tanmen, I am here to educate you. Pull up your chair, get out your notepad, and gather 'round.

Or better yet, head to Taiho, in the obscenely decadent neighborhood of Shirokane. Beware, for their hours are extremely limited - only two hours for supper. Occasionally they'll open for lunch, but it's a gamble - thou hast been forewarned.

Tanmen is an offshoot of ramen. The soup is typically a light shio base, and the broth can be composed of chicken stock, lots of simmered vegetables, and spices. The signature of every tanmen is a heaping pile of steamed or stir-fried vegetables, so that the bowl is equal parts vegetable soup as ramen. Tanmen can be a soul-soother on these cold and dark winter nights, as its hot and filling but not as oily as your average ramen.

Make no mistake, Taiho is one of the best, displaying all the hallmarks of an idiosyncratic institution. Limited, unpredictable hours? Check. Old-school atmosphere frequented by regulars? Check. Mom and pop running the place by themselves for decades?

Check. The intangibles are accounted for. Start off with some gyoza…

…some delicious fried rice…

…and one of the best tanmen you'll have in Tokyo.

Tanmen (800yen)

A dish that could feed a kingdom. Taiho's tanmen is loaded with pepper, so the soup packs a ton of punch. The veggies are usually bean sprouts, cabbage, and nira garlic chives, with lots of chopped pork throw in to flavor.

The noodles are springy and chewy, maybe the tastiest tanmen noodles I've ever had.

Lots of years spent perfecting this one, and it shows.

Tokyo, Minato-ku, Minami-Azabu-shi 2-7-23
Closest stn: Shirokane-Takanawa

Open from 12-2pm and 8-10pm (sometimes they'll open slightly earlier or later, depending on the day)


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