Friday, June 19, 2015

麺や庄の ゴツボ gotsubo: ramen ladies set

Girls' night out at a ramen shop is unique, isn't it? I heard from a little bird - i.e. the Ramen Creator Shono's blog - that Gotsubo in Shinjuku provides a special ladies ramen course. Gotsubo is Shono-san's special veggie-tsukemen shop, So I did the smart thing and booked a reservation and invited some close friends from college. I would be the only ramen maniac in the group, but we were all excited about getting together to eat special ladies ramen. We had no idea what would be in store.

First up was a petite tomato with bonito jelly. Like a French starter, but the concept is still ramen-based.

Next came a bonito tartar with cream cheese and colorful dried vegetables. The plating was beautiful, like a flower field.

Finally, the main course: a vegetable tsukemen.

Doesn't it look like an elaborate pasta? Have you ever seen fancy bubbles on noodles? Why am I asking so many questions? Because this is an amazing-looking bowl.

I always trust Shono-san's sense of taste. The noodles are extremely elastic as tapioca is kneaded into the dough. They pair beautifully with the veggies, broth, and chashu. This is marvelous health food!

Any ladies' set also comes with a dessert. A petite corn parfait on a soup spoon, containing shiro dashi, or a mix of seaweed broth and bonito.

All of these plates are made from the same basic ramen concept inherent to Gotsubo and all of Shono-san's shops: seeing is as fun as eating. Shono always surprises in the best ways, and his ladies' set really knocks it out of the park.

Photo courtesy of Menya Shono gotsubo (

Tokyo, Shinjuku-ku, Shinjuku 1-32-15
Closest stn: Shinjuku-Gyoenmae

Open from 11am-3pm and 5-10pm (closed Sundays)
RSVP necessary for the Ladies' Set (3000 yen for the set and all you can drink)


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

製麺 rabo: humble beauty

A shop with only a little signage outside and a single counter, rabo is another great example of a mom and pop shop serving high-quality ramen in nondescript settings. The master warns you when you come in not to have high expectations, maybe because the shop has been hyped up by magazines and Japanese blogs.

Rabo serves three types of ramen, but even the master says to get the chuka soba.

Chuka soba with flavored egg (800yen)

A shoyu blend, the chicken stock really shines in this one. The master coaxes flavor out of the bird's bones without resorting to too much chicken oil. The result is a light and mild soup full of rich chicken succulence. 

The ramen, a tonkotsu-gyokai blend with a golden hue, is reminiscent of Hayashi, though unfortunately much saltier. 

Ramen (700yen)

One notable thing about all the bowls are the homemade noodles, cut differently to match the style of the soup. Both bowls are fresh and exquisite.

700 yen for bowls with this quality always feels like we're getting away with petty theft. Temper your expectations, but the chuka soba won't disappoint.

Tokyo, Shibuya-ku, Honmachi 4-13-10
Closest stn: Nishi-Shinjuku 5-chome

Open from 1130am-3pm and 530-10pm


Friday, June 5, 2015

平右衛門 Heiemon: gimme shelter

After an exhausting day of work, ramen is my shelter.

Heiemon is located in a quiet, residential part of outer Tokyo that also happens to have a high notch count of good ramen shops.

The master uses nama shoyu, or "raw soy sauce" for the soup. What is raw soy sauce? It's actually soy sauce that hasn't been pasteurized, so the wild yeast of the soy beans gives the sauce more flavor than your average soy blend.

Nama shoyu ramen (700yen)

The smell of the soup is expectedly soft, and the thin noodles catch its flavor to create great harmony.

The chashu here is also noteworthy - two different cuts of pork, what seems to be the belly and the loin. And a beautiful flavored egg. This is good, clean, pure ramen.

For some reason, I was the only customer that day, but this should be a more popular shop. It might not be worth a special trip, but it's must-try if you have a day planned in the area.

Tokyo, Koganeishi, Higashi-Koganei 4-43-12
Closest stn: Higashi-Koganei

Open from 11am-3pm and 530-10pm (closed Thursdays)