January 12, 2013
Ramen at Fukuoka.
Dropped off my bags at the airport, took a 5 minute subway ride to Hakata station to visit a classic tonkotsu staple, “Fukuchan” Hakata branch. Classic Hakata style, head bones, back bones visible from the pot. No finishing aroma oils used. Lots of tare, a spoonful of the magic powder, two separate scoops from the same pot. An oily layer and then the soup. The noodles are a tiny bit thicker than mine. Charsiu is very lean. A heavily pork smelling with a nice oily layer but relatively light soup base.
Next shop, catch a cab to Yakuin. Noodle Theater “Genei”. The shop is fitted out like a theater. The seats are elevated and look down on to the stage being the kitchen. They claim no MSG and house made noodles, so adhere to a similar standard to mine. Their recommendation was the fish based Shoyu. They fry shallots and make an aromatic oil to every order. They hand rub the noodles each serve. The soup is pretty much 100% fish stock. The noodles are high moisture so plump and chewy.
I was impressed and also running short of time to be able to explore and cue up at another shop decided to order their tonkotsu soup as well.
The tonkotsu had pretty good density, not as high as ours but given a twist to part themselves from the numerous classic tonkotsu staples. I got a strong aroma of ginger probably in the finishing oil. The noodles shared the same hand rubbed thin wavy noodles. The charsiu was basically the same slow cooked type but the tonkotsu
came out with a softer cut and the Shoyu had a leaner cut.
Both shops have a strong character and worthy of their respective fame.
Won’t go into point evaluation as I am no longer a unbiased blogger but I will say that I strengthened my confidence that my pursuit of my ramen is the closest to the ideal tasting ramen according to my preferences and standards!
3 bowls in 30minutes. This was my last food in Japan as I fast in my jet star flight.
As you can imagine, 5kg heavier in the very very intense 2 weeks in Japan!
March 8, 2012
My readers would probably know how religious ramen is in Japan. My mother got excited that our local ramen shop in Shichigahama “Kura” did a collaboration stint with mid size convenience store chain “Circle K” and came out with an instant cup ramen.
In 2009 May, I went and visited the owner of Kura, Mitsutsuka san and he was kind enough to spare time for me, listened patiently to my passionate plan to open up a ramen shop in Australia and gave me some valuable words of advise. Amongst pessimists and realists, Mitsuka san was one of the few people who said, “it took me 3 -4 years before customers steadily started coming. I can tell you it’s definitely hard but with your passion, I am sure you will make it!”.
My mother drove around Sendai because they were sold out everywhere and in the end was able to secure one for me.
The noodles are not the fried type but actual noodles freeze dried. The soup is not powder but concentrated liquid. And in the aluminum pouch there is a pork belly charsiu and minced backfat.
Of course some freeze dried shallots and a piece of real nori.
The main instruction on the lid calls for hot water to be poured in and to let stand for 5 minutes. Meanwhile keep the charsiu pouch and soup pouch warm by keeping it flat on the lid. However on the pouch it says to enjoy better, heat pouch in hot water for 2 min. So I opted for the enjoy further route and cooked the soup and charsiu pouches piping hot.
Result. Pretty impressive for an instant ramen. Can tell Kura’s distinctive notes of chicken and pork flavors and the minced backfat topping really intensifies the bowl. Noodles don’t come close to theirs but are some fine noodles for a packaged product. Only problem is the small serving size and I ended up adding my own thin curly noodles to finish it off. Can you see that Kura uses the same bowl as us!?
Kura had been hit badly by the tsunami being in the lower part of Shichigahama/Tagajo area. But I was happy to hear that Mitsutsuka san was alright and was able to reopen in several months. It is especially nice to see this cup ramen as it tells me that he is doing really well now.
February 20, 2012
I am overwhelmed with the strong interest in our truffle ramen. We’ve been expecting a batch of fresh perigord truffles to fly in last Friday or today but to our dismay, apparently the pigs could not find any and the ground has been frozen over in Perigaux and we could be hit with a price hike. Stay tuned for more updates!
Considering the above, we are going to avail our truffle fettuccine noodles individually as an option in any ramen for a $2.00 upgrade charge.
January 14, 2012
My friend M brought me a pack of take home ramen from Japan. This is a collaboration product made by a noodle company under license from a famous ramen shop. This one is called Hirugao. There is a famous shoyu ramen shop in Tokyo called Setagaya and they open up during lunch hour under the name Hirugao serving shio ramen only. Interesting concept to open two distinctly different concept businesses in one shop front.
The taste. It is a quite mild mellow taste probably stewing tonkotsu at intentionally lower temperature and length to not get the emulsification of the usual tonkotsu. This lighter tonkotsu based stock matches well with the string bonito second soup. However can taste really strong MSG and the smell of alcohol preservative and kansui is too pungent. This is why I use sodium carbonate kansui instead of potassium carbonate Kansui for my delicate shio. The strong MSG is sadly a sign of japanese norm so I realize again that this is the reason for many people criticizing my ramen as bland or punchless. I am glad we have enough customers supporting the all natural umami of taro’s. it was a good bowl though, there is rarely a bowl I don’t enjoy and it taught me that shio can be a fully satisfying bowl depending on the recipe an relative position in the menu. (at our shop it is the alternative light healthy choice, at Hirugao it is the only and main star on stage).
Anyway thank you M for your kind thought and also for the good luck “omamori”!
January 12, 2012
Tried making tsukemen with avocado and salsa. My staff were in doubt but what do ya know, it ain’t half bad amigo!
January 11, 2012
New stock pot arrived from Japan. My wife brought this back and it was a big job involving fighting with the jetstar ground staff at check in. It is made by a Japanese company called Nakao Aluminium. Interesting to see that the aluminum is manufactured by Kobe steel. A long time customer that I used to handle as a coal trader. So this means that there are a lot of local Qld bauxite and coal involved to make this pot. Happy to use Aussie resource Japanese manufactured pot for my ramen!
December 11, 2011
I visited Geebung to drop in at Men-Jikan to see what they were up to. Their gyoza is pretty good and his miso ramen was the inspiration for my starting miso. Yesterday I saw a note by the owner advising of the birth of his second child and therefore closing for the day. Looks like he got his early Xmas present! Congratulations and we’ll see you soon!
November 7, 2011
Until a couple weeks afo, we have been selling out of Tonkotsu soup and many customers have expressed their disappointment. So we started pushing harder to make more soup. Happy to say that we did not sell out once last week.
August 13, 2011
Miso Butter Corn and Gyoza with my daughter.
Takeaway Gyudon, Gyoza, Side Salad, and Pickles for wife and other daughter both home with the flu…