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Shoyu

36hrs in Food Paradise – Hour 23, Shoyu

 

Shoyu Ramen

Shoyu ramen

I was now almost one day in classy Düsseldorf and felt it was already time for seconds at Naniwa, where I had started my foodie safari through this town. It was a few hours past my udon lunch and there was still a bit to go before our big sushi dinner tonight so coming back here just seemed the logical thing to do. Because of the weird mid day timing, the queue, short to begin with, went super fast and before I could think about it too much I was already sitting at the bar counter browsing through that beautiful menu of theirs. I could’ve ordered without even looking at it again as I already knew what I wanted since I had left yesterday. They’ve proven themselves worthy, so now I sat here excited again, waiting for my shoyu ramen.

 

 

 

Oh gosh, it was beautiful. The broth was amazing, clear on the surface though porky and muddy on the ground with a salty, tongue-coating umami. I already had that content smile crawling up on me again. Feeling pretty proud of myself and my brilliant idea to fit in another meal today, I started lifting springy noodles and slurping them down in a machine-like manner, being twice as fast and louder than the guy in the neighbouring seat as if it was some sort of challenge. The chashu came in a few thin slices, soft and melt-in-my-mouth and even the tamago, not perfect, however, had strongly improved on the wax level compared to yesterday. Enough said, I liked this even better than their delicious Tantanmen and because of the less thicker broth I also emptied that bowl down to the last drop. This was awesome, domo arigato gozaimasu.

Get Your Grub On!

Naniwa Noodles & Soups
Oststraße 55
40211 Düsseldorf
Germany
p: +49 211 161799
http://www.naniwa.de/

From Tokyo to New York City.

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Tokyo Shoyu Ramen

It was almost the end of our New York City trip when our lovely hosts brought us out to Ivan Ramen on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. I was excited like a little child before Christmas as I missed my chance to check out his original shop in Tokyo during my last trip with the boys in 2014. The place is fairly small but pretty nicely set up with some colorful twisted wall art and nicely dimmed, yet still sufficient lighting to take halfway acceptable pictures without using a flash. Let’s do this.

I had a bit of a hard time deciding, which bowl I should get as there was everything I love on the menu – shoyu, tsukemen etc., even a couple of seasonal dishes. My gut told me to go with something traditional after that brilliant chilled contemporary beef ramen at Momofuku Noodle Bar the other day. I have a copy of Ivan’s book, so I did tend towards his signature shio ramen, which is explained in a step by step guide on the last pages and I thought that if I ever get around to try making it, this could be a reference moment. However, a friend had already ordered one so I switched midst order process to a bowl of shoyu ramen instead. Excitement grew stronger and just the looks of it gave me confidence, that this was going to be good. The chicken-based broth was dark of soy, had depth and was full of salty flavor and light dashi aroma. So good. The rye noodles, they use for this one, are very thin with a lovely bouncy texture, the eggs were still a bit runny but just seconds away from that perfect waxy state and the chashu just melted away in my mouth. That’s also why I felt a bit offended by the guy on the next table, who, without even trying, just neglected all of his beautiful pork belly away on the side. What a waste. Moving on and after trying mine and every other bowl on our table, I realized, that here’s so much more goodness to have had here and that I really need to come back to this shop some day. So wait for me tsukemen.

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L.E.S. Buns

For starters we tried their L.E.S. (Lower East Side, I assume) buns, which combine the two cultures and cuisines this shop stands for, Japanese and Jewish, Tokyo and NYC. The Japanese influence was represented by the fluffy steamed buns and the crunchy daikon slaw, while the Jewish and NYC touch came from the wonderfully juicy pastrami and the ass kicking spicy mustard. Great combination of flavors, globalization right there on my plate.

Service here was super friendly, attentive and fast and the place is like a trendy but low-key New York version of a ramen shop you want to spend some more time in, than just your 10-15 minutes slurping on your bowl of noodles. Nice concept, amazing food, more complementing than contrasting, I’m sold.

Get Your Grub On!

Ivan Ramen NYC (open ever day)
25 Clinton Street
New York
NY 10002
United States of America
p: +1 646 678 3859
http://www.ivanramen.com/

Bari-Uma opened at United Square.

imageUnited Square had a new ramen shop in their basement – one of the ‘Bari-Uma’ branches – and my mate and I wanted to go check it out tonight.

I wasn’t up for the full on tonkotsu action so I ordered the lighter ‘Shoyu Ramen‘ which tasted nice enough but was nothing too exciting and unfortunately again not sufficiently salty. Will I ever have a desert in my mouth again? As ordinary as the broth was as extravagant were the condiments, the chashu/pork belly was flame grilled and had this awesome and unusual smokey flavour and they did a great job boiling up some perfect flavoured eggs as well. Unfortunately the noodles fell a bit short behind such standards and hardly made an impression on me but the deliciously different ‘Boiled Gyoza‘ were top and sure made up for it.

Trying new ramen I tend to set my expectations very high and even though ‘Bari-Uma’ didn’t quite make the bar it is still good having another reliable ramen source so close by and since I haven’t tried their signature ‘Tonkotsu Ramen‘ yet there’s still some things to discover here.

Ramen Bari-Uma ばり馬のらーめん
101 Thomson Road
#B1-08 United Square
Singapore 307591
Tel: +65 6354 3711
http://www.with-link.co.jp/eng/index.html

One bowl at a time.

imageIt was ramen time again and since my birthday dinner I wanted to go back to ‘Miharu‘ and try their ‘Shoyu Ramen‘. I was about to order the one with the special soya but the waitress here was kinda dominant and sort of talked me into ordering the normal standard version instead. From what she said I doubted she ever had tried either herself but since I seem to have a soft spot for pushy waitresses I followed her recommendation and it actually turned out great.

Even that I really liked the soya base of their shoyu broth I was still a little bit reminiscing about that way saltier bowl I had at ‘Menya Musashi‘ in Tokyo, which made my mouth dry out big time. I still found the corn an odd ingredient in a bowl of ramen but appreciated the alien texture it added. The chashu wasn’t really anything special and this time I didn’t even try the bamboo shoots but therefore the egg was outstanding and on point perfect, coldish and waxy. I wonder if I will ever get their noodle process as the menu offers the option to upgrade the thickness of your noodles but every time I ordered a bowl so far asking for the thickest version I was told I didn’t have a choice. Anyway all in all a lovely bowl.

This visit wasn’t my last one here as I still want to explore their menu a bit more and hopefully next time I’ll find the guts to stand my ground against that waitress. One bowl at a time, one bowl at a time.

Miharu Sapporo Ramen
#01-11 The Gallery Hotel
1 Nanson Road
Singapore 238909
Tel: +65 6733 8464

Leave Ramen to the Experts

imageI was now nearly one week in Germany and thought it would be a good idea to try out some Asian fair around here. Together with two colleagues I went to the recently opened ‘Urban Kitchen’ at the location of the old swimming pool in Heidelberg.

I didn’t see anything that was tempting on the menu so I gave their ramen selection a shot. They had some weird toppings on sale but the fact that they were offering miso and shoyu versions here made me curious. I ordered the ‘Shoyu Beef Ramen‘ and it actually looked quite nice with it’s dark broth and big slap of grilled beef on top. Taking my first slurp of the soup brought me back to reality and that Germany is rather a rookie in the art of ramen cooking. Sadly it was pretty tasteless, not salty whatsoever and probably not cooked for very long. The noodles were dreadful boring strings with no flexibility and springiness and tasted awful floury. All other toppings were quite okay, the snow peas were al dente and the steak even though a little out of place tasted pretty nice and beefy.

‘Urban Kitchen’ is a nice and lively place and my soup was okay and maybe a good choice for a light lunch or dinner but it was definitely nothing anywhere close to the mighty ramen. I kinda knew but still hoped for a decent copy of the real thing.

http://www.myurbankitchen.de/index.php

Urban Kitchen
Poststrasse 36/7 (Im Alten Hallenbad)
69121 Heidelberg
Germany
Tel: +49 6221 9986793

Keep The Good Ramen Coming

imageIn the past we would’ve gone out, drink a little too much and get up to no good but this year we celebrated my birthday ‘old people style’ and appropriate to my coming age with a quiet dinner so everybody could make it back home before midnight. My friend chose ‘Miharu’ at the back of the Gallery Hotel close to Robertson Walk and Mohamed Sultan which he likes a lot. Whilst waiting we had a chat with some Japanese customers in the queue who regarded ‘Miharu’ as one of the more authentic ramen shops in Singapore.

As so very often recently I felt like shoyu ramen and since they had a version in my favorite ramen style I had their ‘Komi Tsukemen‘. I first hesitated as it was advertised to have a lemonish taste but I’m glad I didn’t change my mind. The broth was lovely salty with just a hint of lemon which didn’t taste alien at all but added some comforting freshness. While the chashu and the egg were mostly ok, the bamboo shoots tough were rather weird, pretty thick and brownish in color. They didn’t really taste good as well and so I left them mostly untouched on the side of my plate. My highlight were the noodles which they import directly from a noodle factory in Japan. They were thicker than usual, nicely twisted and super chewy so that despite the huge portion that it already was I still wished for more. Definitely a new contender for the great ramen places in this town.

imageWe also ordered two sides of gyoza. The normal ‘Yaki Gyoza‘ where quite nice but the ‘Shi-So Gyoza‘ were just outstanding. According to the name they used shiso leaf in this which reminded me of thai basil and that gave those gyoza a very unique flavor that I want to taste again.

This place has been here for a while and I regretted not coming by earlier as I left yet again happy and content knowing that I had yet found another gem for my list. Brilliant.

Miharu Sapporo Ramen
#01-11 The Gallery Hotel
1 Nanson Road
Singapore 238909
Tel: +65 6733 8464

Shoyu’s My New Thing

imageBeing back in Singapore I craved for some shoyu ramen (soya based), which I re-discovered for myself when I was in Tokyo, so a couple of colleagues and I went to ‘Santouka‘ at Cuppage Terrace.

I ordered the standard ‘Shoyu Ramen‘ which is a mixture of pork broth and soya sauce. The pork flavors were much more dominant in this ramen and even that it tasted pretty good that way I wished it would’ve been much more salty. Unfortunately the noodles were a bit overcooked and the chashu even though quite tasty was not the melt-in-your-mouth kind. They did a pretty good job on the extra egg I ordered though, it had the perfect yolk, waxy and delicious.

I also had one ‘Cashu Bun‘ that funny wise came accompanied by a cup of Japanese tea and tasted pretty nice. Here they had used the soft and melting chashu which I missed in the soup and had glazed the meat with a sweetish sauce and topped with Japanese mayonaise. Also the bun was nice and fluffy, it was just a little bit too big in ratio to the much smaller slice of pork.

I like this place and sitting outside when it’s not too hot – which most of the time it is – and additionally they plate up some pretty decent ramen even that this time they slacked a bit on the details.

http://www.santouka.co.jp/en/index.html

Santouka Hokkaido Ramen
21 Cuppage Road
Cuppage Terrace
Singapore 229452
Tel: +65 6235 1059

Second Rounds at Menya Musashi!

imageI just had to come back here before leaving Japan and even that I originally intended to have this fantastic ‘Tsukemen‘ again, standing in front of the vending machine I reconsidered and changed for the “upper left” signature bowl. Since I started this blog I find myself more often trying new dishes rather than just going with the usuals which I find a pretty positive development as I’m normally a creature of habit and rather go with what I know i like.

I went for the thicker broth, fat noodles and medium size and didn’t have to wait very long for it to arrive. Compared to theTsukemenfrom last Sunday this broth was slightly lighter but still on the salty side which worked great together with the fat springy noodles. I seldom had these wider noodles before but I think I do prefer them over the usual thinner ramen noodles as they seem to transport the broth much better and are not getting soft as easily. All ingredients here tasted fresh and delicious even that the egg again and unfortunately wasn’t that special at all. The pork belly though had the same tenderness and delicious texture I had missed all week. I savored each bite knowing well I won’t have the opportunity to taste this for probably a long while.

After i had slurped my bowl dry I wondered if I could have managed to finish a large portion and if one of the buttons on the vending machine would actually have given me some extra of that fantastic pork belly. This place is well on my radar now and even that I heard the branches in Singapore are completely different I might give them a shot to see the difference between them and the mothership.

Menya Musashi 麺屋武蔵
7-2-6 Nishi Shinjuku
K1 Building 1F
Shinjuku-ku
Tokyo Prefecture
Japan
Tel: +81 3 3796 4634

Put Some MOO in Your Ramen!

imageIt was the weekend and I had my mind set on a beef ramen place for lunch that I found on a dedicated ramen blog for Tokyo. The place is called ‘Matador’ (マタドール) and is located in the Kita-Senju area in only a 5 minute walking distance from the east exit of the train station. I was slowly getting better in navigating and hardly walked off the ideal route. I arrived just after the lunch hour but still had to queue up because this place only has six ish bar seats.

Finally in, I went for the shop’s signature ‘Luxurious Roast Beef Ramen‘ (贅沢焼牛らぁ麺)  which, as everywhere, was the upper left corner button on the vending machine. I passed my ticket to one of the staff and waited excited for my lunch to arrive.

This must have been the prettiest ramen I have ever seen with it’s two big slices of roast beef floating on top of the clear broth that smelled simply wonderful. The broth was soya based (shoyu), light and salty and was topped with some finely chopped chives. The roast beef looked not only beautifully rose but was juicy and tasted great and beefy. It only was a bit difficult to bite of small pieces so I ended up gobbling down a full slice at once. The noodles were thin but unfortunately a bit too soft for my taste. One thing I found outstanding was that besides the two big slaps of roast they had added some slow cooked brisket-like beef that stuck to the noodles when slurping them in and made this really an incredible dish.

matador front (1 of 1)I didn’t regret making my way out here on this beautiful Saturday as ‘Matador’ awarded me with a great new experience and even that I couldn’t really imagine how beef ramen would taste like before I have sure become a big fan of it. I will definitely be back here anytime I will get remotely close to Kita-Senju. Pretty awesome, you should try it.

Matador マタドール
Senjuazuma 2-4-17                       
Adachi-ku                              
Tokyo Prefecture              
Japan

Ramen Gambling in Shinjuku!

imageAfter over three years I finally made it back to Tokyo and upon arrival at Narita I realized how much I actually had missed this place. This time around though I came much better prepared in regards to what food I had lined up for my two week stay here. The list was much longer than the days I had available but you always have to keep something for next time. After I had checked into my hotel and freshened up I headed straight for Shinjuku to have my first ramen of the trip at ‘Menya Musashi’s’. As geographically challenged I intuitively head into the completely wrong direction but since there was no ‘Mos Burger’ anywhere to be seen as indicated on my map I turned on the spot and eventually reached my desired destination. Tip for all if you can’t find the west exit of Shinjuku Station, just walk around the building until you do and you’ll be right on track. 

At the shop there were only three color coded pictures on the vending machine – a red one for their signature ‘Shoyu Ramen‘, a yellow one for ‘Tsukemen‘ and a white one for what I guess was ‘Beef Ramen‘. Each color gives you a choice of four buttons with no further picture explanations for the non-Japanese amongst us. I knew that I definitely wanted to try their ‘Tsukemen‘ and so I tried the only of the yellow buttons that had red Japanese signs on it (1,000 JPY) thinking it might be a sign for a spicy version; it wasn’t. After I had passed my order to one of the guys he asked me for my choice of size and broth and I went with medium and “kotteri” (thick and stronger broth). I was a bit concerned if I would get the delicious looking pork belly and eggs that all other guests seem to have ordered but when my bowl arrived it thankfully came with full specs.

The looks and taste were beautiful. The broth was dark and rich and pretty salty – oh so very very salty – which was perfect for soaking the “futo-men” (fat noodles) in it before starting the big slurps and yet made me gulp down several glasses of the free ice water to prevent my tongue from drying out. The noodles were nice and chewy and I appreciated very much that they make them a bit broader here. There were two big chunks of pork belly in my bowl that they cooked in Japanese wine and soya sauce for hours so the fatty parts melted away and the meaty bits fell apart. I tell you this could be a dish by itself and I felt like gobbling it down at once but paced myself to have little pieces of porky goodness all the way through my seating. The one thing I expected a similar level of perfection was the egg which unfortunately was not so super special, nice and waxy sure but I had better.

imageThis one surely made it on my list of places well worth remembering and I’m sure I’ll return here when I’m back in Tokyo or maybe even during this stay. Ramen shop atmosphere in Japan just is a little different than in Singapore and even that I hardly spend more than 20 minutes in here I really liked it; interior, shouting chefs and all. So if you take the wrong turn as I did don’t give up yet, it might just be worth the  search. Look out for the noren with the swordsman.

Menya Musashi 麺屋武蔵
7-2-6 Nishi Shinjuku
K1 Building 1F
Shinjuku-ku
Tokyo Prefecture
Japan
Tel: +81 3 3796 4634