Keisuke Fugu Ramen

Fugu, a fish that has many names: torafugu, pufferfish, tiger blowfish, blowfish, porcupine fish, or globefish. Regardless of what you call it, you probably know that it is the fish that one could die from if it is not handled properly. Nowadays fugu farmers in Japan have figured out how to raise poison-free fugu.

As for the fish, we do eat it in nabe hot pots from time to time. The broth from fugu is rich in umami. I prefer it best deep-fried, glorified fried fish, simply seasoned with salt.

Keisuke Fugu Ramen is in the basement of the Tokyu Plaza Ginza at the Sukiyabashi Ginza crossing. The Fugu shio ramen with soy egg is 1,150 JPY. The staff said this was the most popular bowl. It was a tiny bit on the salty side, but otherwise a good bowl. The noodles are thin, which I prefer. It included nama fu (wheat gluten), bamboo shoot, Napa cabbage, and the fugu sashimi is cured in kombu and garnished with yuzu.

If you come, be sure to order a side of fried fugu.

Keisuke Fugu Ramen

Chuo-ku, Ginza 5-2-1, Tokyu Plaza Ginza B2

中央区銀座5-2-1  B2東急プラザ銀座 B2F

http://www.grandcuisine.jp/keisuke/8daime.html

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Tsukiji Chuka Soba Inoue

UPDATE – Tsukiji Chūka Soba Inoue is currently closed due to a fire at Tsukiji Market. (Aug. 2017)

 

Our favorite ramen at Tsukiji is Inoue. This tiny stall that has standing only tables for dining has been in business for fifty years. There is only one bowl that is made from (I believe) chicken and soy sauce broth, has thin noodles, and is topped with slices of pork, menma (bamboo shoots), green onions, and kaiware (daikon sprouts). The soup is light and a good start to the morning.

This is a great start to the day, and in our opinion, better than having sushi for breakfast at Tsukiji as many of the sushi shops have become very touristy. There is usually a line here, so stand in line, order quickly, as the shop is run much like the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld. Stand and slurp quickly, and then move on to make room for the other diners.

Tsukiji Chuka Soba Inoue 築地中華そば井上

Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 4-9-16 中央区築地4-9-16

5:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. closed Sunday, holidays, and Tsukiji holidays

Shibuya Hayashi Ramen はやし

On the back streets of Shibuya, a short walk from Mark City and the Inokashira line is Hayashi ramen. There are only 10 seats at a counter overlooking the open kitchen. The ramen at Hayashi is a rich blend of pork and seafood. Meaty and smoky aromas from the bowl are accented with a fresh green punch from the julienned leeks. The thick straight noodles stand up to the rich broth. The toppings of the egg and pork round out this umami-rich bowl. For all that is going on in the bowl, it is well-balanced. No wonder the long lines.

I walk by the shop every few weeks and there is usually a long line. I was lucky to have come recently when the line was shorter than usual and jumped at the chance to try the bowl I have heard much about, and am glad that I did.

Purchase your ticket at the vending machine up front. There are only three options:

ramen 800 JPY; aji tama (with seasoned egg) 900 JPY; yaki buta (1,100 JPY)

The photo above is the yaki buta, which includes the cha shu pork and the seasoned egg.

Hayashi is only open for lunch, starting at 11:30 a.m. It closes at 3:30 p.m., or when the soup runs out. I imagine it usually closes before 3:30 p.m. It is closed Sunday and holidays.

Hayashi はやし

Shibuya-ku, Dogenzaka 1-14-9 渋谷区道玄坂1-14-9

Shinjuku Kaijin 海神

Kaijin literally means the God of the Seas, a perfect name for this ramen shop that does not use meat. The seafood soup at Shinjuku Kaijin changes daily based on what seafood is in season. The broth, while rich in flavor, is light and refreshing on the palate. The fish that goes into the broth is written out daily on large white paper that is hung up on the wall.

The menu is read from right to left, top to bottom:

本日のアラ   honjitsu no ara  today’s seafood scraps (head, bones, etc.)

真鯛   madai   sea bream

平政   hiramasa   kingfish (in the same family as yellowtail)

太刀魚   tachiuo   cutlassfish or beltfish

甘鯛   amadai   tilefish

穴子   anago   sea eel

Ara refers to the head, bones, and other scraps of fish that can be either simmered in a sweet soy broth and carefully picked over when eating. Here at Kaijin the chef uses the ara scraps to make the soup stock. Salt is added to the broth. The noodles are thin, which is exactly what this broth needs. It is garnished with julienned leeks, and a chicken and a shrimp dumpling. If you have an allergy, be sure to tell them, ebi no arerugi- ga arimasu.

If you have a big appetite, be sure to order the grilled onigiri (rice ball) and put it into the soup when you are done with the noodles. The salty yuzu koshō paste is also a great way to add depth to the ramen.

Kaijin also has shellfish ramen, like asari (littleneck clam) or hamaguri (Orient clam). I have tried these, but much prefer the complexity of the seafood ramen, their signature dish.

These are the signs in front of the Shinjuku shop. It’s a smaller shop with counter seating for five, a table for four and a table for two. There is often a line going down the stairs, but it usually moves quickly, as this is a quick meal. Be sure not to linger after you’re done eating if there are people waiting.

There are three branches in Tokyo at the time this blogpost was written. I have been to the Kichijoji shop, which is close to the station, but the soup was too salty and I won’t go back. The Shinjuku shop is also near the station and where I go. A new shop has also recently opened in Ikebukuro.

Shinjuku Menya Kaijin

Shinjuku-ku, Shinjuku 3-35-7

Musashino-shi, Kichijoji Minamicho 1-5-9, Kumamoto Bldg. 2F

Toshima-ku, Ikebukuro 1-19-2

http://www.kaijin-ramen.com/menu.php

 

 

What to Eat in Tokyo Now

 

Tokyo summers are hot, humid, and in my opinion, horrible. I don’t know about you, but my appetite wanes and some days it can be hard to get motivated to eat. Here are some things that I look forward to eating this time of year. In this list I am including some dishes or restaurants I haven’t been to, but are on my radar for the summer. If you make it to any of these, please reply to this blogpost, I’d love to hear your impressions.

Dominique Ansel’s Sweet Corn Ice Cream http://www.foodandwine.com/blogs/corn-ice-cream-grilled-corn-cob-tokyos-newest-dessert We love this shop so much it is where we came to celebrate my birthday. There is a second floor café with great savory dishes like avocado toast and chicken pot pie. This summer’s sweet corn ice cream looks amazing. (Shibuya-ku, Jingumae 5-7-14 渋谷区神宮前5-7-14)

Kakigori shaved ice brings me back to my first visits to Japan from Minnesota. My favorite was the miruku (milk) topping, which is actually sweetened condensed milk. Other great toppings include green tea and red bean paste.

sapporoya-hiyashi-chuka

Nihonbashi Sapporoya Chilled Ramen with Sesame Dressing

Chilled Ramen at Nihonbashi Sapporoya. This is my favorite bowl of ramen in the summer. If you’ve never had cold ramen, let this be your first.  https://foodsaketokyo.com/2013/10/13/nihonbashi-sapporoya/

Baird Beer Taproom in Takadanobaba. I haven’t been, but this is on my summer Go List. Nothing better to cool down with than cold beer. This is my favorite craft beer in Japan, and this new shop’s menu includes kushiage (meat and vegetables that are skewered, dusted with panko, and deep-fried). See you there. http://bairdbeer.com/en/tap/takadanobaba.html

kintame-bubuchazuke

Kintame Bubuchazuke

A meal of Japanese pickles is cooling and refreshing. My favorite pickle shop is Monzennakacho’s Kintame. https://foodsaketokyo.com/2011/06/30/kintame/

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Tsukishima Monjayaki

One crazy food I crave in the summer is monjayaki, Tokyo’s version of a savory pancake that is cooked over a hot iron grill. Sitting at the table is hot, and a good excuse to drink ice cold beer. Tsukishima is a neighborhood that has a street lined with monjayaki shops. Best to go at night as the area comes to life. Most shops are closed at lunch, but a few are open, if this is your only time to come. https://foodsaketokyo.com/2011/07/06/monjayaki-okame-hyottoko-ten/

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Summer Saké

Cooling down with saké in the summer is more interesting when drinking summer saké. Saké made for drinking in the summer tends to be a little lower in alcohol, sometimes frizzante, and often bottled in light blue or clear bottles. Ask for natsu sake at your retail shop or when dining out.

IMG_3129

Kagurazaka Meisyan Tan Tan Men

Spicy and hot tan tan men noodles are also on my mind this time of year. Eating this dish I usually work up a sweat, which somehow seems to cool me down a bit. It’s also a good excuse to have a cold beer. This bowl is from Meisyan 梅香 in Kagurazaka, with a female chef in the kitchen (woo-hoo!). Shinjuku-ku, Yokoteramachi 37-39, Nakajima Daiichi Bldg. 新宿区横寺町37-39中島第一ビル

On this same theme, I also love having curry in the summer. Here is a list of some curries in Tokyo worth seeking out. https://foodsaketokyo.com/category/curry/

tsurutontan-tomato-udon

Tsurutontan Tomato Udon

Finally, cold noodles, soba, udon, or somen. Pop into any noodle shop and seek out the cold noodles. In particular, I am a huge fan of the seasonal udon menu at Tsurutontan, with branches throughout the city and at Haneda airport.  https://foodsaketokyo.com/2014/08/12/roppongi-tsurutontan-udon/

 

 

 

Mugi to Olive Clam Ramen at Manseibashi

Mugi to Olive Clam Ramen

Mugi to Olive Clam Ramen

Mugi to Olive has been on my ramen radar for a while. The chef behind the restaurant is trained in French cuisine. Ramen bloggers and Japanese media, both print and television, rave about the clam soup ramen. But it jumped to the top of my list after seeing it mentioned in this great piece in the New York Times by Ingrid Williams:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/18/travel/what-to-do-in-36-hours-in-eastern-tokyo.html

The hamaguri (common Orient clams) are from Kuwana in Mie prefecture. A region famous for its hamaguri. The Daisen chicken is from Tottori prefecture. The base to this bowl of ramen starts with excellent ingredients. The thin, straight noodles are made from domestic flour and are al dente. The toppings include a generous portion of refreshing mitsuba (trefoil) greens, and Daisen chicken. The yamaimo (mountain potato) and naruto (fish cake) is deep-fried in olive oil. On top of that, a half-dozen hamaguri clams. The tare is made from soy sauce and chicken fat. On the table is a jar of shallot oil which added even more umami to the bowl.

The article mentions the branch in Ginza but we went to the Manseibashi store. When we left the shop was mostly women. The Manseibashi area is fun to visit as there are some great shops. Manseibashi is an old station in Tokyo that is no longer being used. The shops are under the tracks of the Chuo line.

The bowl is full of umami and has a rich flavor of clams. It is obviously made by a trained chef using good ingredients. It also has a Bib Gourmand recommendation from the Michelin Guide.

Mugi to Olive

Chiyoda-ku, Kanda-Sudacho 1-25-4, Maach ecute Kanda Manseibashi S10

千代田区神田須田町1-25-4

http://www.maach-ecute.jp/shop.html

Ginza Kagari Ramen 銀座篝中華そば

Kagari Echika Ramen

Kagari Echika Ramen

My favorite ramen at the moment is Kagari in Ginza. The shop does a tori paitan, creamy chicken ramen. This is perfect for those of you who don’t eat pork. 🙂 I come here mostly for the thick, rich soup made with lots of chicken fat. The noodles are thin, which I prefer.

Recently Kagari has opened a second shop in the Ginza subway station in an area called Echika. It is close to the Marunouchi entrance to the Ginza station. The hours for this shop is 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. However, the staff said that best to come by 10 p.m. or you will be turned away.

The Echika branch has only 8 seats at a long, straight blonde counter. This shop only serves the tori paitan, either a bowl of hot noodles with the soup, or as tsuke-men, where the noodles and soup are served in two different bowls. For optional toppings I included Kyoto bamboo shoots, aji tama seasoned egg, and garlic butter. The garlic butter in this shop was (I think) garlic powder mixed into butter.

I also had a lovely bowl of seasonal vegetables as a side dish. Over a dozen types of seasonal vegetables, some raw some steamed, simple presented together in a bowl. It takes away a bit of the guilt of the hearty ramen when balanced with some vegetables. The vegetables could have been used as a garnish to the ramen, but it was a treat to try each vegetable and enjoy them for their own flavors.

I came for an early lunch and was seated right away. In front of the shop is a waiting area. I would prefer to wait here in the hot summer as it is underground and not nearly as hot as waiting at the main shop.

Kagari Honten Main Shop

Kagari Honten Main Shop

The main shop, honten, in Ginza is very popular. There is usually a long line at this shop. The sign outside of the store says “SOBA”, as the restaurant refers to their ramen as chūka soba, or Chinese noodles. One day while standing in line here a couple thought it was a soba shop and only once they were handed a menu did they realize that it was ramen. The poor woman said she was allergic to gluten but was advised that the ramen of course was made with gluten. They had stood in line so long that they came in anyways and all she could eat with rice with different toppings usually put over the ramen.

The main shop also has only eight seats. The seasoned egg here was cut in half before being placed in the bowl, which makes more sense than serving it whole as they did in the Echika branch. Also, here the garlic is fried before it is added to the butter.

The main shop also serves a niboshi shoyu, dried sardines and soy sauce, ramen. But come here for the tori paitan chicken ramen as this is their specialty.

If you go to the main shop and the line is super long, I suggest heading over to the Echika branch. Also, the Echika branch is open without closing between lunch and dinner but the main shop does close for a few hours.

The original shop in Ginza has closed along with the Echika branch in the subway station. The NEW shop is at and will open before the end of the 2018 year.

Chuo-ku, Ginza 6-4-12

 

Oyster Ramen at Tsukiji Yajima 築地やじ満

Tsukiji Yajima oyster ramen

Tsukiji Yajima oyster ramen

Tsukiji Market breakfast options abound and oyster ramen (1,200 JPY) is one can only be had this time of year. Creamy oysters are a unique topping for ramen and are served with nira (garlic chives), onions, bamboo shoots, and fresh wood-ear mushrooms. The noodles are straight and thin, a nice contrast to the large oysters. It’s a large bowl and very filling so come hungry, and come while oysters are in season.

Most of the diners at Yajima are fishmongers from the inner market. Many of them were ordering fried rice or shio (salt) ramen and a half order of shumai (steamed pork dumplings). They are in and out quickly and pay when they order. It was the tourists (myself included) who ordered the oyster ramen (kaki ra-men) and paid after eating.

Tsukiji Yajima exterior

Tsukiji Yajima exterior

Plenty of other restaurants serving fried oysters at Tsukiji Market including:

https://foodsaketokyo.com/2014/07/28/deep-fried-oysters-at-tsukiji-markets-odayasu/

http://www.chowzter.com/fast-feasts/asia-pacific/Tsukiji?rest_id=5111&rest_name=Toyo-chan%20(Tsukiji%20Market)&item_id=5144

Yajima やじ満

Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 5-2-1 Bldg. 8

http://www.tsukijigourmet.or.jp/29_yajiman/index.htm

Vegetarian Ramen in Tokyo Station – T’s Tan Tan Restaurant

ramen - vegetarian T's at Tokyo Station

Tokyo Station Vegetarian Ramen at T’s Tan Tan Restaurant

I have a new friend in town who is a vegetarian. A while back when we got together for lunch I told her I would love to find a spot that we could have for lunch near her office. It was so frustrating to find someplace that was 100% vegetarian. While Japan has a rich variety of vegetables, many times it is cooked in a dashi broth which is usually made with kombu (kelp, a type of sea vegetable) and katsuobushi (smoked skipjack tuna flakes). I spent a long time searching and finally told her I couldn’t find anything that looked appetizing. There were a few places, but the cuisine just didn’t look appealing.

Now I understand the frustrations that vegetarians go through when visiting Tokyo.

Which is why I was so excited to happen upon a vegetarian restaurant inside of Tokyo Station that serves ramen along with many other dishes. The sign outside said no meat, no fish, no egg, no milk. But the photos of the ramen looked appealing. I sat down and confirmed with my waitress and she said it is 100% vegetarian. I ordered T’s tantan men, which seems to be a signature dish.

The noodles were skinny and straight, as I like them. The broth was rich in miso but also full of umami. I added some of the condiment of red chili peppers and sesame seeds, although the broth on its own was a bit spicy.

ramen - vegetarian T's interior

T’s Tan Tan Restaurant in Tokyo Station

The location is inside of Tokyo Station on the first floor in a section called Keio Street. It opens at 7 a.m., which is when I went. After opening the shop the store filled up with a half-dozen diners. I will be back to try the vegetable curry which also looks good, but is not served at breakfast. The shop is brightly lit and the menu is filled with photos of the dishes, so ordering is easy for non-Japanese speakers.

T’s Restaurant

Chiyoda-ku, Marunouchi 1-9-1, Keio Street 1st floor (inside Tokyo Station closest to the Yaesu Minami South Exit)

http://ts-restaurant.jp/english/

 

The main shop is in Jiyugaoka at Meguyo-ku, Jiyugaoka 2-9-6, Luz Jiyugaoka B1

〒152-0035東京都目黒区自由が丘2-9-6Luz自由が丘 B1F

Tenfufan’s Bottomless Bowl of Dumplings 天府舫

Suigyoza at Tenfufan

Suigyoza at Tenfufan

The heat and humidity is starting to become unbearable in Tokyo. One way to survive is to eat hot and spicy food as it induces sweat which helps cool you down. I was meeting a Japanese girlfriend for lunch in Shinjuku and we agreed on Shisen cuisine. Tenfufan in Nishi-Shinjuku has been on my radar for a while because it has an all-you-can-eat suigyōza (boiled dumplings) offer with its set lunch, a bargain as most lunches are under 1,000 JPY.

An online website (not the restaurant’s) said the restaurant opened at 11 a.m. We showed up at 11:15 a.m. and were surprised to see a sign on the outside of the shop that said lunch starts at 11:30 a.m. I pushed open the door and the kind owner said that they do not open until 11:30 a.m. but as it was so hot outside that we could be seated early. A pot of iced tea and two cups were set on the table and we started to peruse the menu.

The owner said that all set lunches come with the boiled dumplings. He pointed to a small table set off to the side and said that once service starts the dumplings would be there. “Self-service” he added. There is something about growing up in America, at least in the Midwest, that inspires me at a buffet to dig into as much as I can. I was so surprised to see the tables of salarymen near us taking only a few dumplings and not going back for seconds. I stopped after my second visit, but I am sure that had I gone with an American we would have gone back for thirds. The dumplings are stuffed with meat, the skins seem to be made from scratch, and the spicy dipping sauce hits the spot. Don’t bother with the soy-seasoned eggs that are also on the buffet.

Shirunashi Tantanmen at Tenfufan

Shirunashi Tantanmen at Tenfufan

The shiru-nashi tan tan men is one of their signature dishes, along with the suigyōza. Shiru-nashi means without soup. Underneath the ramen noodles were some peanuts and a hot sauce that comes and catches you by surprise after the fact. It’s not too spicy and is rich in umami. The side dishes included a bland fried rice, an unmemorable egg-drop soup, and some bean sprouts with carrots. But who cares when the dumplings and ramen were exactly what we had come for, spicy, delicious, and rich in umami.

Shortly before noon the shop was filled. Mostly salarymen who must be working in the area as the shop is on a side street. When we left there was a line out the door. 80% of the diners were having either this dish or the mabo dofu. This meal came to 880 JPY, including the dumplings. I will be back.

Tenfufan 天府舫

Shinjuku-ku, Nishi-Shinjuku 7-4-9