A random find as I was rushing off to hop on a flight back to HK a while back. But it turns out that Rock’anDo is no random joint, but pretty highly rated. A relatively new addition to the crazy competitive Ikebukuro ramen scene, My pet peeve – not all ramen has perfectly textured eggs. Doesn’t make it bad, and a lot of the top ramen-ya have eggs like this one right here main angle is a healthy style of ramen – clear MSG-free shio soup using no animal as a base (no pork, chicken etc) but gyokai-ke clams. The dish I got, the Shio Green Men had yuzu blended in, and the soup was pleasantly light and inherently drinkable. Echoes of Afuri here. The noodles are made with added Euglena, a sort of single-cell organism which lend the noodles a green colour and an interesting mochimochi texture. Toppings-wise, shiro-negi, charsiu and mitsuba (a Japanese herby vegetable similar in look to Italian parsley). Light, healthy-ish and goes down easily. What’s not to like? Worth a stop by if you’re ever in the hood.
Menson Rage – one of the many Michelin Bib Gourmand recommended ramen stores in Tokyo. And open for just over a year, a relative newcomer to the scene. From the rave reviews this hot-shot rookie has been getting, it’s a store that I’ve been looking forward to trying. I originally visited Rage to try their “Shamo Rokku” bowl; their Shoyu ramen with a soup base made from a premium Japanese crossbreed of Gamecock (the kind of tanrei-kei ramen using ultra-premium ingredients taking Tokyo, and the greater Japan, by storm). Alas, little did I realize, Monday’s are their special days where they serve ramen which is completely different to their regular menu… Oh well, no biggie. The special that day was a Niboshi Shoyu, and I love me some nibo. With only two options, a “Tokyo Niboshi” and a “Tokusei Niboshi”, I went with the Tokusei (basically the same thing with more toppings). The broth is made with a whopping 10 types of niboshi (背黒、青口、白口、平子、鯵、エソ、烏賊、海老、牡蠣、焼きアゴ) “lightly cooked at low heat for hours” according to the helpful menu, and their Shoyu tare is made with 7 types of Shoyu… I feel like there must be some sort of record here. Anyway, how was the soup? It was freaking awesome. Surprisingly so given this isn’t even their regular bowl (though they do have a niboshi ramen on their regular menu, albeit a less hardcore version). Smooth, smoky, deep. The niboshi hits you with its intensity, not insane-level bitter like the bowl at Nagi Golden Gai (now called Niboshi King) used to be back in the day, but in a refined and supremely balanced way that I suppose 10 stonking types of Niboshi gives you. All offset by the deeply delicious shoyu tare. The three types of char siu (pork belly, pork shoulder, and sous-vided chicken), were all tender and delicious. Noodles, straight and thin, matched perfectly. As you may gather from my description, I sort of like this place. Coupled with the quirky, quasi-skater feel of the place (punkish soundtrack, skateboard decks hung on the wall), and their awesome bathroom secret, it’s a place I can’t wait to revisit.
Famed for their shio base ramen. The soup base was long-boiled chicken; chicken bones, whole chicken carcass, and bonjiri chicken butt. Then, the obligatory blend of salt, which is the hallmark of any shio ramen joint worth it’s proverbial salt. In this case, French, Mongolian and Italian rock salt. This was a pretty solid bowl overall, though surprisingly heavy for a shio ramen (not a bad thing in this case). The noodles were weighty with good backbone and chew. Interestingly there was a pretty strong peppery taste to the two different types of charsiu included in this tokusei version (chicken thigh and regular pork charsiu). Even the meat inside the wontons were substantially peppered. Other toppings including thin-cut menma, shiraga negi and mizuna were par for the course. One final thing to note – the finishing oil (chicken oil?) was laid on thick and the first sip was somewhat oily, which is what made the bowl heavier. After a while it kind of blended in so no biggie.
The first bowl of tsukemen was so satisfying, I decided to go for another bowl. This time, the ramen they’re actually famous for! I opted for the Shoyu soba (醤油そば). Soup base was shiro shoyu (white soy sauce), chicken, and niboshi (dried sardines). Very well-balanced. No one element of the soup was too overpowering or “shitsukoi” (annoying/noisy in Japanese). Nice undercurrent umami from the niboshi without the usual strong fishiness. The flavour of the shoyu balanced well with the dashi. Charsiu was good, with a tender bite and nice pinkness (slow cooked at low temperature). Mitsuba greens, menma, nori. All went well with the soup. Noodles were straight, thin and boiled to an appropriate bite. Nice and a bit slippery, went down well.
There’s just too much good ramen around. The trend of lighter soup bases is going very strong and I love it! I’m all for jiro-kei ramen but sometimes you just don’t want to destroy your stomach for the next 3 days with an industrial-strength bowl.
#koseik_tokyo #koseik_ramen #ラーメンインスタグラマー
Browsing my favourite ramen ranking (not tabelog), found a solid place near Shibuya where I was staying. A good choice. I love me some standard gyokai/chicken etc soup tsukemen but I also enjoy it when the master chef experiments and expands their horizons a bit, and this winter 2015 exclusive item was different. You see this style quite a bit in Tokyo these days, with places like Japanese Soba Noodles 蔦 (of recent 1-Michelin star fame, something I’m still scratching my head about), where the standard soup base is Shio/shoyu and that’s their famous bowl. But then, they’re always much more than that, because they always offer fantastic seasonal dishes like this Miso Tsukesoba. Hatcho miso (pure soy bean miso) is the base, with saikyo miso and mugi miso (barley miso) blended in. The base dashi, niboshi dried sardines with dried hoshi ebi shrimps. The result, a deeply rich and thick broth which tasted strongly to me of a thick aka (red) miso soup. Then, those superbly chewy noodles which didn’t lose to the intense broth. Toppings wise, tender pieces of duck charsiu, menma, shungiku (chrysanthemum greens) and a pleasantly surprisingly piece of syrup sweetened kinkan (kumquat), a winter treat in Japan. And can’t forget the excellent ajitama here. Solid all around.