Friday, June 24, 2016

Umami Dashi Noodle 素良 Sora: real [CLOSED]

Anyone can use social media to spread out anything very easily to world nowadays. I also always see a lot of people who use or put a phone on the table when they eat. I personally don’t like those kinds of behaviors because I really want to concentrate on the meal, enjoy conversation, and not look at unnecessary information while I eat. So I'm sometimes disappointed to see people looking at their phone in front of wonderful meals.

Sora is a ramen shop where you can just enjoy and concentrate on the food without caring about the behavior of others. You're not allowed to use phones, apps, or cameras inside. Mr. Miyazaki, the owner of Sora no Iro, quietly opened this shop in February in the old Salt and Mushroom location. He didn't promote it heavily, didn't allow any media sites to come and hype the shop up. He just really wants customers to enjoy ramen by activating their five senses thanks to the clean ingredients and fresh produce from local suppliers and farmers.

For Hearts and me, his rules aren't strict at all, but some might be put off from having to be untethered from their phones. Some people seem eat to take a photo in order to get “likes” or to improve their restaurant review site. They are surrounded by so much information but they haven’t even tried the ramen yet. Here, we can hear the sound of the cooking, the conversation between staff. 

We were allowed to take photos for a special five-year anniversary of Sora no Iro. It was also a fundraising charity drive, where all proceeds from the anniversary bowls would go towards the victims of the Kumamoto earthquake. For this special day, Miyazaki-san whipped up a special bowl. 

A shio broth enhanced by cod dashi, several types of domestically and sustainably grown chashu and vegetables, sautéed oyster mushrooms, bright orange seasoned egg, and topped with a mushroom espuma that came from a collaboration with Sapporo's MEN EIJI and Seto's Menya Katabutsu. The curly handmade noodles were excellent and reminiscent of a Kitakata style bowl.

Isn’t ramen so beautiful? I thought we could enjoy this so much more than usual without the typical technological disturbances. Since this was a one-day only special, you'll have to visit the shop to see what high quality bowls Sora puts out on a daily basis.

Hearts and I really agree with Mr. Miyazaki’s concept. We kept talking and talking and talking after we finished eating at Sora, being truly satisfied with good ramen. I think directly because of our modern times we need to enjoy and appreciate meals. Ramen can teach us what is truly important.

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

Open from 12-3pm (closed Sundays and Mondays) 


Thursday, June 16, 2016

中華蕎麦 蘭鋳 Ranchu: serenity

Ranchu has been on our radar for some time now, but they have weird hours and it's always been a little bit of a chore to get there. They serve a polished niboshi shoyu with some of the best chashu in the city.

Ajitama soba (900yen)

Unfortunately, there was no chashu-men, so I settled for a bowl of chopped chashu covered in scallions. Meaty and paired well with the crunchy scallions, this appetizer would have been even better with a beer, but it was only noon, a good hour before I usually start my Tuesday drinking marathon, so Lum and I just munched on them sober.

A subtle niboshi flavor permeates this bowl, but after experiencing some recent other gutsier shops, I was expecting a little more punch. The noodles, from Mikawaya Seimen, were excellent. The chashu was as good as advertised, rare and pink and tender when it arrived. The only problem with this kind of slow-roasted pork is that you have to eat it within the first minute or two; otherwise, it will get cooked in the soup into a less appetizing hard beige slab.

Ranchu's well-balanced bowl is served in a quiet setting despite being on a busy thoroughfare, and the customers inside were intent on savoring the chefs' handiwork. A serene atmosphere for appreciating ramen.

Tokyo, Suginami-ku, Horinouchi 2-13-13
Closest stn: Honancho

Open from 12-2pm and 6-9pm (12-3pm on Saturdays, closed Sundays)