Friday, May 22, 2015

銀座 朧月 Oborotsuki: one man, two bowls

There are few ramen culinary pleasures like stumbling across a gem. Oborotsuki hasn't been in Ginza too long, but it wasn't on our radar. Just walked past and in.

Great impulse slurp. Run by one guy and his trusty assistant, the shop is distinguished by the low, limited counter seating and the hushed atmosphere. This might have been a sushi shop back in the day. The silence is cut by the steam from the vats of soup. There are two bowls here - a chuka soba and a tsukemen.

Chashumen (1000yen)

Definitely opt for the extra chashu. For only a couple hundred yen more, you get fifteen slices of pork! They aren't huge, but that is a great value, and the fat on each slice is pristine.

The curly egg noodles go well with the shoyu broth. This is a very solid bowl and what one would assume to be the highlight of the shop.

But the tsukemen might be even better. 

Tsukemen (800yen)

A typical tonkotsu-gyokai pork and fish stock blend is unusually sweet, topped with burnt garlic oil, and flavorful down to the last slurp.

One reason might be the noodles, which have extra bite. 

You can't go wrong with either bowl here. This is an unassuming shop run by a silent master, preparing two bowls filled with high-quality ingredients. Go now.

Tokyo, Chuo-ku, Ginza 6-3-5
Closest stn: Ginza

Open from 1130am-330pm and 530-10pm (closed Sundays)


Thursday, May 14, 2015

ソラノイロ salt and mushroom: mushroom samba [CLOSED]

I woke up a little later than usual and felt like eating some GOOD ramen on my day off. Something light, smooth and with lots of veggies. Sora no iro immediately came to mind, but we decided to try their sibling shop dedicated to salt and fungi in Kojimachi, an office area with many businessmen and women who fill the local shops during lunchtime.

Sora no iro's style is to make ramen that is very friendly to both male and female customers. The shops are open and clean, with a lot of limited, experimental options. They also offer a cheap and frequently changing smoothie - this one made with apple, mustard greens, and kiwi - to start your experience. Very healthy!

Hearts ordered the shio niboshi soba. Very zen.

Tokusei shio niboshi soba (1000yen)

A mix between Okinawa soki soba and shio ramen, this is a bowl that goes down easy. Lots of interesting toppings here, from the aonori and kamaboko, to the excellent chicken chashu and Okinawa-style soki pork cartilage. Very plentiful.

It's a big bowl, but even the deluxe version isn't a problem. Very light and slurpable.

I ordered the kinoko veggie soba, which is their mushroom and vegetable ramen. Very colorful.

Kinoko veggie soba (840yen)

The bowl is also pretty wild, topped with prosciutto, greens, fried tofu, and chopped paprika. The soup is creamy and tastes like the kind of rich mushroom soup served at French restaurants, but it's smooth and lighter than you would think. Very drinkable.

The noodles are amazing, mixing mushroom paste into the flour to make a sort of mushroom pasta! However, this bowl still retains the essence of ramen. Very respectable.

After you finish your noodles, you get a small portion or rice topped with burnt cheese. Pour your soup in and, yes, you have a mushroom risotto! Very clever.

Miyazaki-san at Sora no iro has crafted another winner that demolishes what we traditionally consider ramen. Any women resistant to ramen should give this place a try; ramen is very good for you!

Tokyo, Chiyoda-ku, Kojimachi 3-4-3
Closest stn: Kojimachi

Open from 11am-3pm and 6-1030pm (closed Sunday and Saturday dinner)


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

ほうきぼし+ Houkiboshi+: not your little girl ramen

Houkibosh's biggest claim to fame is its master, a 22-year-old lady master who started the shop with her parents four years ago. The original honten shop is located way out in Akabane, but the sister shop, Houkiboshi+, is more centrally located.

Both shops specialize in a soupless tantanmen that resembles in some ways the Nagoya-based Taiwan mazesoba that was the biggest ramen fad in Tokyo last year. Houkiboshi's thick noodles are topped with bean sprouts, mustard greens, garlic chips, crushed peanuts, another helping of fried noodles, and a generous dollop of spicy minced meat, miso, and sansho numbing pepper.

Soupless Tantanmen (850yen)

Mix it all up and this bowl packs some serious heat. Not the sort of creation you would expect from a shop run by a cute little girl. A bowl laden with oil and spice, a crunchy and chewy mess of fat, carbs, and calories.

The bowl additionally provides a nice break from the procession of numbing pepper - a light soup made from chicken stock. Definitely welcome in between loud and large slurps.

Houkiboshi+ also changes things up on Sunday with a shop based on a totally different theme. Last year, the Sunday Shop was called Inagaki and served a thick tori paitan.

The soup was too oily for me, but the noodles were imminently slurpable.

The toppings were also excellent, with the large chicken meatball in place of the usual chashu serving as the highlight.

Inagaki's been replaced by Houkiboshi Beans, a health-conscious ramen shop that serves up bowls like a soy milk and vegetable ramen, and what might even be the only vegan ramen in Tokyo. This will require a return trip very soon.

Tokyo, Chiyoda-ku, Kanda 3-19-9
Closest stn: Kanda

Open from 11am-3pm and 530pm-Midnight