I enjoy a bowl of ramen (ラーメン) as much as the next person, but I don't go ga-ga over them. Especially not when I'm outside of Japan. There's a lot of mediocre crap out there, and I never know what's actually in the soup base in the bowl in front of me. But things change when I'm in Japan, and once in a while I'll go and get my fix.
For the longest time my go-to ramen was Hakata Tenshin (博多天神) - a chain that my friends Cow and Chicken introduced me to a long time ago. It's been a few years since I last paid them a visit, and since there was a branch only steps away from the Robot Restaurant (ロボットレストラン) in Kabukicho (歌舞伎町), it seemed like the perfect opportunity to slurp down a bowl after the show on our first day.
The result? A milky-white broth that is rich in flavor but light on salt.
I was real glad that I came back for another bowl... since it really has been too long. I think Hello Kitty liked the broth, too.
On day 3 of the trip, we met up with a foodie friend who had just flown in from Europe. She was going to hit her favorite ramen place - Kagari (篝) in Ginza - which seemed to be getting a lot of attention in the last couple of years, especially among the tourist crowd. Although we were out sightseeing for the day, I decided to reshuffle our itinerary so that we could join her.
Following just over an hour's wait, it was finally our turn to get inside the tiny 8-seater. After hanging our coats and putting away our bags, we sat down and waited for our bowls to arrive.
But that chicken was just so incredibly tender and succulent... and dabbed with a little bit of yuzu (柚子) zest for the wonderful fragrance. The bamboo shoots were fresh and sweet with a nice crunch. The extra pork belly turned out to be unnecessary and paled in comparison to the chicken. I'd order extra chicken instead.
I was pretty happy to have met up with my friend and to have tried out this very interesting Chinese soba (中華そば). But next time the wait had better be a lot shorter than an hour...