Japan – Tonchin Ramen, Ikebukuro; Komen Ramen, Harajuku.

 tonkotsu ramen with googies

Japanese food is not healthy, but it is catholic.

Catholic as in broad-in-scope rather than capital “C” Catholic*. Healthy food is eaten as a matter of course rather than interfere with the making. The secret to good Tonkatsu ramen is fat. Fatty fat pork fat giving it its creamy deliciousness and delightful adipose globules. It is the Eastern cousin of the Cassoulet.

tonchinnoodlepot

A goat recommended eatery in Ikebukero with the big shoes of the best ramen I had ever tasted. There was a queue. We had a couple of beers and watched in awe at the counter of some of the finest ramen kitchen performances we’d seen. The stock lovingly distributed into the bowls and the remaining bits of lard returned to the pot. Noodle strainers given a whiplike flip and constant shouting and repetition of greetings and orders. To say nothing of the complex personality dynamics – alpha man, side kick, the gimp, and then the obi-wan came out. The ramen? Superb. Ramen joy. I loved the soup and was impressed by the doneness of the eggs, with a slight gloss of life still in the yolk. Some dipute about it’s actual name, possibly Tonchin, but there’s a write-up in Tokyo Walker Plus

harajukuramen

This place in Harajuku is another fave but I can’t remember its name and can only say its across from Fujimama’s – a kind of ex-pat lets do brunch fave spot. [It’s “Komen” – thanks Chika!] A line to wait here as well but I found it a little underwhelming when we got in to find the cooks just quietly going about their business. They did have gyouza, which I’d been hankering for and when I tried one there was an audible food pornographic grunt. Nice. The ramen stock here tended more towards fish for its kicks and this usually comes from dried bonito shavings called katsuobushi (not to be confused with katsuoboushi – a kind of headpiece made to resemble a fish for certain ceremonies). Not quite as silkily pleasurable as tonkotsu ramen but the garlic chips were a nice touch we thought.

harajukuramenkitchen harajukuramengyouza

*No offense, I would find an all male culinary group run buy a septuagenarian who had never eaten, taking it’s authority from a 2000 year old word of mouth cooking guide with most of the stuff written by the sous chefs, a dandy thing.

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16 comments

  1. Reid’s avatar

    Hi Anthony,

    That’s it! I have to stay away from your blog for awhile. These ramen posts of yours are too much for me to take. I feel like either slashing my wrists, or hopping on the next plane to Tokyo. Haven’t decided which makes more sense yet. =P

  2. Anthony’s avatar

    Why choose? You could do what I did and go to Japan and just cut yourself really badly. : )

    You could always hide yourself in the Louis Vitton bag of a Japanese tourist OR alternatively – project tonkotsu ramen at home will happen soon.

  3. clayton’s avatar

    excellent. I’m in Shinjuku on business right now, and my wife arrives in a few hours for a vacation. Looks like we’re hopping down for some ramen later today! Thanks!

  4. Anthony’s avatar

    Enjoy your porky pleasures.

  5. chika’s avatar

    Hi Anthony,

    Good to see you haven’t had another major injury in your stay.

    Could the harajuku ramen shop be the one called Komen (光麺)? I can’t remember much else.

    I have never had katsuo-bushi confused with katsuo-boushi, but now that you’ve mentioned it, I might well in the future LOL

  6. Anthony’s avatar

    Hi Chika

    Yes you’re right, it was Komen, I was just too lazy to get out the kanji dictionary. Thanks heaps.

    No more injuries thank goodness, it finished safely but I was pretty worn out by the end and I look forward to seeing you with a fish in your head.

  7. chika’s avatar

    Hi,

    Yeah next time I’m making dashi I’ll try hard to be careful not to put your head with a fish into the boiling water.

  8. Anthony’s avatar

    Chika, you monster. : )

  9. Santos’s avatar

    ooh chika, good one

  10. Anthony’s avatar

    Hey ladies, no fair.

  11. Reid’s avatar

    Hi Anthony,

    I would love to hide in a tourists Louis Vuitton bag…that would be travelling in style! But alas, I don’t like the sight of blood so I wouldn’t slash my wrists and a vacation right now is really out of the question.

    *sigh* I guess I just have to consider making this at home.

  12. Anthony’s avatar

    Reid
    Thank goodness you’re here. I was being harrassed by she-devils.

    I’ll try and make some tonkotsu ramen within the next few weeks so watch this space.

  13. Ben’s avatar

    Okay – ticket to Japan booked. I’m just planning the menu now…

  14. clayton’s avatar

    Wow. Truly excellent. We went today for lunch, and when we arrived at noon, we were about 20th in line… the line had easily doubled in the next 30 minutes. Friendly precision made sure the line was organized. However you’re right – the true joy was the kitchen spectacle, made it worth every moment. Outstanding ramen and a memorable time. More pictures from today, in action: here

  15. Bender’s avatar

    Dear Spicelog,

    I have one question to you:

    Is it true that a sea food is healthier than eating red meat or even a chicken? Why is that?
    Thank you very much!

  16. Anthony’s avatar

    Ben – go! go!

    Clayton- That’s excellent you went. Isn’t it a fantastic place? I’ve been to a few places where I wondered what the wait was for but this was well worth it. Some great pics you’ve got there.

    Don
    Yes it is. Essentially it comes down to the amount and type of fat you get for your protein. Beef has the saturated fats that are usually solid at room temperature and these are the ones that cause health problems. Fish on the other hand, is usually lean and has Omega-3 oils which are good for you.

    As always, it depends on the quantity you eat and I heard the other day that fibre in a diet will help flush out the saturated fat so eat your veges.

    Hope that helps.

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