Friday, November 13, 2015

麺尊 RAGE: the big chill

This was the Summer of Shoyu, and we're still catching up to all the innovative bowls that we tried over the hot holidays.

RAGE is a cool new shop in the ramen holy land of Ogikubo. Despite the aggressive shop name, the place is spacious, laid back, and run by some chill dudes willing to pump hip-hop music. One guy was wearing a San Antonio Spurs jersey when we walked in, and was able and willing to talk about the NBA. I will definitely be back to talk shop during the NBA season.

RAGE serves up a fantastic niboshi ramen that is loaded with sardines and chopped onions. Rich but easy to slurp, this is the go-to bowl on a first visit and one of the best of its kind in a very niboshi-heavy 2015.

Niboshi soba with ajitama (850yen)

In a strong attempt to set itself apart from the countless new chuka soba shops around the city, Rage also serves up a very high quality chicken soup, with shamo dori birds. Originally used as cockfighting game fowl, shamo chicken is now a special delicacy, with a taste that most resembles Red Cornish hens.

Tokusei shamo dori soba (1050yen)

It's an excellent idea for a chuka soba, and the extra cuts of shamo chicken are a great addition. The noodles from Mikawaya Seimen, on the other hand, pair well with either bowl.

"Menson" is to pray at the noodle altar, and these guys live what they preach. Also one of the top five new shops of the year in the Ramen Taisho rankings, these are men to watch.

Tokyo, Suginami-ku, Shoan 3-37-22
Closest stn: Nishi-Ogikubo

Open from 11am-3pm and 6-9pm (closed Tuesday and for dinner on weekends)


Friday, November 6, 2015

東京ラーメンストリート店 ソラノイロ Sora no iro Nippon

We're huge fans of Miyazaki-san's Sora no iro branches, including his original Sora no iro and his second shop, Salt and Mushroom. His beautiful third shop, Sora no iro Nippon, just debuted at the Tokyo Ramen Street, occupying the stall of the now relocated Shichisai (more to come on that!).

The inside is an eclectic blend of modern Japanese and traditional Okinawan style decor, with relaxing Okinawan music playing in the background. This is a signature of Miyazaki-san, who imparts all sorts of subtle nods to Okinawa in his various shops.

Sora no iro is famous for their vegetarian ramen, a bowl filled with vegetables and with a soup heavy on carrot puree. But unlike the original shop's Veggie Ramen, the veggie bowl here is vegan, with absolutely no meat used in the process of making the soup.

Veggie ramen (vegan style - 900yen)

This is the first vegan ramen we've ever had, and while we'll probably stick with the carnivore options, this bowl isn't lacking in substance considering it uses no pork or chicken bones for the dashi. The noodles, like the original, are infused with paprika for the orange color.

We actually prefer the shop's other signature, the fantastic chuka soba.

Edo-shiki chuka soba (800yen)

Described as Edo-shiki, evoking old Tokyo, this is a hearty shoyu with a strong smell of dried bonito and a dark, rich color. The original shop's chuka soba is mild and soft, and this one is a lot bolder; your mileage may vary depending on your preference, but both are excellent bowls.

After work, travel, or commute, the Ramen Street fulfills the body and mind. I was actually feeling pretty stressed from work, but Sora no iro's chuka soba blew my cares away. If Shichisai must go, I'm really glad it's replaced by a dedicated shop like Sora no iro.

Tokyo, Chiyoda-ku, Marunouchi 1-9-1
Closest stn: Tokyo

Open from 11am-11pm