Monday, February 29, 2016

とんこつラーメン ひかり Hikari: signs

Not content to just settle for one Nagoya bowl, I went to Kozoji to check out my favorite secret Taiwan ramen shop with my old friend and now successful erotic dojinshi author. Unfortunately, we will have to wait to reveal our secret ramen shop, as it was closed. The master just takes days off without any warning, usually to go on vacations with his new, hot Filipino wife.

We instead chose a popular local tonkotsu shop that had strong pork bone smells wafting into the street. A good sign! The shop also happens to be the same as my middle name, which is also the same as one of my favorite Utada Hikaru songs. Another good sign! 

Noko Do-tonkotsu (750yen)

Hikari serves up some very funky tonkotsu that you'd likely find in Nagahama. If you like your tonkotsu to have the consistency of gravy, go ahead and try the ultra thick bowl at the top left of the machine. I wish I tried the namesake Hikari Ramen, as it was cut with some dashi soup for probably a more balanced taste for most Ramen Lovers.

Stinky, but clean, and the typical loaded toppings abound. You can choose the thickness of the broth in these bowls. 

For tonkotsu, you can't go wrong with Hikari. These guys know how to have fun, and their shop is tricked out with all sorts of cool signage and apparently some clever gentei bowls. The signs did not lead us astray.

Aichi, Kasugai-shi, Fujicho 3-1-13
Closest stn: Kozoji (about a 30 minute walk)

Open from 1130am-2pm and 6-10pm (closed Wednesdays)


Friday, February 19, 2016

味噌屋麺四朗 Misoya Menshiro: plains wanderer

Nagoya is most well-known for their Taiwan ramen, but on this trip I only had time for a couple bowls with family. Nagoya is also known for big ramen restaurants that fit big groups of people. Menshiro is no different, though their specialty is in serving up miso styles from all over Japan. Since I went with a big family, we got to try all the styles.

Hokkaido (potatoes, extra broiled chashu)...

Kyushu (satsuma-age fried fish cake, extra chashu, butter)...

Shinshu (mountain greens)

Edomae (sauteed clams, nori)...

Tantanmen (spicy oil, minced meat)...

Mazemen (fresh vegetable tempura)...

I wish these were actually noticeably different, but other than the mazemen, most just use the same soup and noodles with some added condiments or spices. That's not necessarily a bad thing, as the basic miso is good stuff, and the huge list of toppings are a nice bonus that you usually only find in an udon shop. The various extras give a nice visual and flavorful variation on the standard procedure.

Always expect a wait here; the parking lot is always full of cars.

Aichi, Chita-shi, Yawata Sasahazama 12-31
Closest stn: Tatsumigaoka

Open from 11am-230pm and 5-11pm (closed Tuesdays)


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

鯛塩そば 灯火 Tai Shio-soba Touka: the snapper

Touka was another ramen shop that made the lists of many magazines last year. They specialize in ramen made of tai snapper, an ingredient that has been gaining in some popularity in recent years.

Tai shio soba with egg (900yen)

We were second in line before the shop even opened. A few minutes after we got in line, a staff member came out to greet us and said they'd be opening soon. Then, when we entered the shop, he briefly explained the menu in front of the ticket machine. Nice service is nice.

I've been to a few ramen shops that claimed to serve tai snapper as an ingredient in the broth, but Touka's shio ramen serves it as the main ingredient and you really taste the essence of the fish. I'm not sure I can describe this as ramen; it's more like a bowl of Japanese cuisine that is likely to be served at old Japanese restaurants. The appearance is so beautiful. Ofu, or dry-baked gluten cake, is a cute touch, and the flavor of yuzu citrus, the single piece of pink chashu all comes together so beautifully.

Hearts got the tai chazuke set, which comes with some fresh snapper sashimi topped with a goma black sesame sauce and a bowl or rice.

Tai chazuke set (370yen)

You first try a piece of the sashimi on the rice, then eat the remaining pieces with the ramen broth poured over the rice with some crunchy bits for added texture. What a wonderful morning meal.

It's been a while since the last time my heart beat quickly eating such great ramen. This is shio ramen at its most refined. I was completely fulfilled.

Tokyo, Shinjuku-ku, Funamachi 12-13
Closest stn: Akebonobashi

Open from 11am-3pm and 5pm-midnight