Friday, May 27, 2016

麺庵 ちとせ Chitose: kind hearts and coronets

The weather was chilly at the end of March, but that's not enough to prevent us from getting to a shop early and getting the first round of seating. Akebonobashi is becoming a small ramen district, and Chitose is about a 5-10 minute walk from the station. While we were in line, an old guy asked us if we the ramen shop was famous. We just him it was our first time there and heard good things, and the old guy thanked us and walked away.

This was a particularly icy morning and we wanted to eat immediately. As soon as entered, one of the staff said to all the customers, "Thank you very much for waiting in the cold weather." He kept repeating that whenever a customer would come into the shop. This sort of consideration touched my heart.

Ajitama ramen (850yen)

The ramen touched our hearts as well. There is a lot of care in this bowl, with many distinctive ingredients providing the perfect harmony for a very tender shoyu ramen. The flat noodles are made of flour flown in from Hokkaido, the tare is composed of five types of soy sauce, and various other ingredients are locally sourced, including fruits, seaweed, scallops, and free-range chickens.

Chitose also has a frequently changing gentei, "limited-time" menu. This month, the featured bowl was a tantanmen that wasn't much to look at, but was different from the normal salty-sweet bowls in that it really emphasized the shoyu ramen base. This was like a tantan shoyu ramen, with the shoyu notes being accented with sesame nuttiness and just the right amount of chili oil and numbing pepper spice. We slurped till the last drop and told the staff we would be back for sure.

Tantanmen (850yen)

On our way out, we saw the old guy waiting in line with his coworker. Hearts told him, "Really good!" And it was. I believe that having a gentle heart creates good things that connect our spirits and lead to success.

Tokyo, Shinjuku-ku, Ichigayadaimachi 18-5
Closest stn: Akebonobashi

Open from 1130am-330pm (closed Saturdays)


Friday, May 20, 2016

松戸中華そば 富田食堂 Tomita Shokudo: diner

Matsudo is synonymous with Tomita, the highest rated "rich style" tsukemen in Japan. But another Tomita exists in its shadow: a tiny 7-seat counter that serves up a mean niboshi chukasoba.

Chukasoba with egg (medium 850yen)

Open from morning to the middle of the night, Tomita Shokudo is the more accessible, late-night ramen diner version of Tomita (shokudo is Japanese for "cafeteria). They serve a morning ramen, a mid-day "thick" tsukemen, and an ultra fatty bowl after 8pm. Their trademark chukasoba is rich and salty and littered with chopped scallions in the vein of Nagi's sardine laden funk, with a signature pile of wakame seaweed that is more commonly found in cafeteria ramen bowls (hence the shop name). Hand picked and chewy, this is solid chew that cuts some of overly salty soup.

The handmade noodles of medium thickness are expectedly excellent, but the chashu deserves special mention - grilled right in front of you so that the smells permeate the shop, this is particularly tender and juicy meat. Apparently they've gone through several different chashu incarnations, all of which present a fresh take on grilled pork.

The same attention to detail, care for customers, and homey feel translates to Tomita's sister shop, with slightly more manageable lines (think 15 minutes versus 2+ hours).

Chiba, Matsudo-shi, Matsudo 1240-3
Closest stn: Matsudo

Open from 7-2am (open from 10am on Wednesdays)


Monday, May 9, 2016

麺や ひだまり Hidamari: the town

My first trip to Sendagi was when I was a college student. I went there to take my resume photo for job hunting at a small photo studio. I really hate the memory of job hunting right after the economic recession, so I always associate Sendagi with seeming like a boring part of town.

Wafu shio ramen with egg (820yen)

Hidamari, which translates to "sunshine," is about a five minute walk from the station. It's also one of our favorite slice of life anime from Shaft, but that's neither here nor there. We avoided the lunch rush, but all the seats were still occupied. While we were waiting, we could check out the shop's menu (written in English and Japanese).

Behind the shop, some niboshi (bonito) were drying in the sun. If I was a cat, I would definitely steal them.

The shop's interior is full of wood furniture and relaxing jazz music. The owner apparently learned his trade at Sou, one of our favorite shio ramen shops, so I went with the shio. Hearts got the shoyu. 

Shoyu ramen with egg (820yen)

The noodles are silky, soft, and are made of 100% wheat flour. Both bowls have a lot of chicken umami. On your first visit, I recommend you try the shio.

These aren't heavy bowls at all, and the noodles are a bit more tender than usual, perhaps to cater to the older population in the area. Sendagi isn't so bad; the local shopping street has a cafe, steak house, bakery, tea shop, izakaya, and some good ramen. It's a good area to explore in a peaceful mood.

Tokyo, Bunkyo-ku, Sendagi 3-43-9
Closest stn: Sendagi

Open from 1130am-1030pm (closed from 3-6pm on weekdays)