So sorry, but a kind reader of the blog has just informed me that this shop is now closed. I will update this post when I hear of news of a new shop opening in central Tokyo.
Rock’N’Roll ramen is spelled out with numbers 69, or “roku” in Japanese. So, in Japanese we call this ramen shop Roku N Roll, said quickly it sounds like “rock and roll”. Chef Junichi Shimazaki’s original shop is in Machida and has been voted the best ramen in Tokyo for a few years. Machida’s a long haul from central Tokyo so I was thrilled when he opened up a shop in Akasaka in June, 2013.
What makes his ramen so special? Many facets. The flour used for making his noodles is all domestic. The broth is made from chickens from Akita prefecture. And the pork on top of the ramen is none other than Iberico pork. Some call this kodawari, an obsession to perfecting each component. It’s a great bowl of ramen. The broth, while a rich chicken flavor, is well-balanced and not too heavy. The pork was amazing. The noodles were cooked just right. The only thing I would change is that I wished that the egg was cut in half as it was hard to eat. He’s famous for his shōyu (soy sauce) ramen. Next time I’ll try the shio (salt).
Shimazaki-san’s coiffure and dress is very 50’s, think the Fonzie, but with longer hair. Seeing his style, it makes sense why he calls his restaurant Ramen-ya Rock and Roll. It was great fun to see him in the kitchen making ramen. He’s very popular and is often seen on television and in magazines.
The shop this day was filled with mostly area businessmen and young students. I went right as they had opened up and got a seat right away. But when I left there was a line.
The gyoza on the menu looked great, but not available until later in the day.
Chef David Chiddo of the TY Harbor group has several successful restaurants in the city including Cicada and Beacon. His most recent shop, Smokehouse, is an urban barbecue with a great list of craft beers, both domestic and from the USA, as well as one of the city’s best selection of American spirits. Smokehouse is conveniently located near Omotesando. It’s a casual place and great for meeting friends for a drink and good food. The store is kid-friendly and has a kids’ menu if you ask for it. Here is my review of Smokehouse in Metropolis magazine. Here I share some photos of the food and scene at Smokehouse.
House BBQ sauces
Chicken fingers kids’ lunch
Iceberg wedge with blue cheese dressing
Macaroni and cheese, okra, and creamed spinach sides
A gift from my cousin, some focaccia from a shop in her neighborhood. These are as focaccia should be, light, airy, with a crispy crust and moist crumb. Very simple flavors of rosemary, zucchini, and tomatoes. Tokyo is filled with great bakeries, and this is a good one to know about if you find yourself near Kagurazaka station.
A hot bowl of thick and chewy flour udon noodles hits the spot any time of day. Starting the day with fast food udon is something I could get used to. Good thing there is not one of these shops in my neighborhood. The standard bowl of noodles with hot broth is only 262 JPY. It’s topped with tenkasu, tempura bits and pieces that are in a bucket next to where you pick up your noodles. I splurged an extra 105 JPY and got the chikuwa tempura, a grilled fish cake that is battered and deep-fried. The broth is hot, so sip until it cools down. The smoky fish broth is light and if I weren’t in a hurry, I would have lingered over it and probably would have drunk most of it up.
These fast-food udon shops are throughout Tokyo and are a bargain, any time of day. This shop, Tsurumaru, is brightly lit and there is a large communal table in the middle of the shop and several counters that face the wall. Most of the customers are solo diners and the meals are fast.
The menu is simple. Pick a bowl of udon from the pictures on the wall. Some bowls will come with meat or a raw egg. And, if you want, top up the bowl wit h some tempura vegetables or seafood. You’ll also find rice balls, that but seems a bit much after having a bowl of noodles, doesn’t it?
If you are visiting Japan and looking for a quick meal, this is one of my recommendations. Save McDonald’s for when you are back home.