Scenario – Degustation Dinner Dec 8th 2012

November 25, 2013

This is completely untimely being 11months away but forgot to post…

Before the film crew came out for my second degustation dinner, for my first degustation dinner, I had drafted a scenario of what I wanted to explain with each drink and dish. Considering the flow of the evening and mindful of food getting cold etc., I wasn’t able to explain fully all the information behind the dishes, drinks and food pairing, so where else to talk about it to my heart’s content other than this blog!

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August Special Kyoto Kitashirakawa Style Ramen / 京都北白川系ラーメン

July 28, 2013

別名天一系。京都の超人気店をインスピレーションに作って見ました。あくまでインスパイア系です。ブログのabout meに書きましたが自分に大きな衝撃を与えてくれたラーメンです。オープン3年半、満を時してメニューに登場させます。8月限定ですのでぜひご賞味ください!
Ever heard of Tenkaippin? This one is inspired by this shop. As I wrote in my about me section, this ramen was an eye opener for me at 16 years of age. Since then, I have come this far. But after 21 years I go back to my roots by putting this one on the menu. Limited during August only!

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Kyoto – Meimon/Gogyo/Ichibanboshi/Watanabe Seimen

July 2, 2013

19:00 June 30 やっぱ京都で最初の食事はここ以外ないかなー!学生のときはできなかったゴージャスサイドメニュー全種類をつまみに親友と楽しく飲りました!やっぱ名門うますぎ!

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Aji no Meimon Head Quarters @ Shichijo Shichihonmatsu.  This was probably the best bowl rated by university student Taro Akimoto 20years old 17 years ago.  Sticky collagenous chicken soup with no added oils.  Enjoyed the same taste, had to be my first bowl to start my ramen memoir journey.

21:00 June 30 二件目もラーメン屋!一風堂系の焦がし味噌ラーメン五行。町家を改築したオサレなお店、接客もいいし参考になりました。美味しかった。温度が半端ない!あっつ!て感じ。

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Gogyo @ Shijo Sakuranobanba.  Recommended by N san.  Not on my memory list, but after reading about it, a good choice for a few drinks and nibbles and a bowl to finish things off.  The atmosphere and service standards, high motivation of the staff creating a vivbrant feel, all very good stimulation.  They’ve refurbished a Machiya style house probably 300-400 years old to a ramen shop and bar.  The burnt miso ramen’s burn tongue temperature, a really interesting one making me want to experiment too!

11:30 July 1本日一発目は渡辺製麺@西院。日本離れたのが8年前なんで魚介豚骨つけ麺を始めて食べた。魚介濃厚豚骨って話だけどデンプンぽいドロドロさは天一系に魚粉いれた感じ?麺はなかなかだけど僕だったらもう少し加水高めてもっともちもちさせるかな。

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Watanage Seimen @ Saiin.  Have not actually had the chance to try out the Tonkotsu Fish Stock Tsukemen which became main stream several years ago after I left Japan.  So this one also not on my memory list but good breakfast to start the day.  The soup felt not so thick from Tonkotsu protein and fatness but more from starch driven thickness.  Which is not unpleasant but left me still wondering if the real famous shops are also like this.  The noodles also could have been a bit more resilient chewiness which I think can be bettered with more moisture during the noodle knedding process.  Anyway a decent bowl.

13:00 July 1思い出の一番星。マスターは屋台3年、岡崎で34年。味も素敵な笑顔も全く変わっていませんでした。僕はまだ3年、頑張るぞ!

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Ichibanboshi @ Okazaki.  From the outside, you can never tell that this coffee shop looking place is a ramen shop if it werent for the tonkotsu aroma reeking the perimeter.  I rode my bycicle around the corner and smiled to myself as I knew straigth away from the smell that they were open from down the block.  This is the place that i frequented dueing my student days. Probably twice a week.  I was able to speak to the master in depth for the first time in 18 years and introduce myself as a fan and that I have followed his path in Brisbane Australia.  He was very happy to hear of my story and we shook hands.  His stock is tonkotsu predominant and charsiu seasoning as the predominant tare.  Topping is 3-4 decent slices of belly and or shoulder charsiu (very very good!), sprouts, shallots, bamboo shoots.  I always add some raw egg.  He has been keeping his style for 3 years as mobile yatai and 34 years at the current location.  He mentioned there are so many restaurants in Kyoto but still there was a need for a different taste and went for a distinct tonkotsu predominant ramen compared with the other shops that used chicken mainly.  Compare to his 37 years, I am still not even born.  Gambaro!

14:00 July 1 Tenkaippin Head Quarters @ Kitashirakawa. (just as a spiritual pilgrimage, no eating).

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Other shots.  Lost track of time exploring and testing my memory and wasn’t able to score my fifth bowl of ramen.

Nishiki Markets and me sampling some ayu and hamo.

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Doshisha Uni, Otani Uni.

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Nanzenji Temple and Biwako Sosui.

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A shot of my super fast ride of the day ($5 for the day and quicker than car or train!).

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Farewell Japan till next time!


Fukuoka Ramen Pit Stop

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!

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Kura kotteri tonkotsu ramen (packaged)

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.

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Truffle Ramen Sold Out

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.


お土産ラーメン 昼顔 gift take home ramen “hirugao”

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”!

東京の有名店でせたが屋という醤油ラーメンの店がある。この店が昼限定で「ひるがお」として塩ラーメンを提供するらしい。こういう1店でテーマを変えて営業するのは何だか粋だなと思う。まだやってるかわからないが確か中村屋も夜はフレンチ風のコース料理を出している。

商社時代の後輩からお土産でひるがおのラーメンをいただいた。こういう手のラーメンは製麺メーカーが有名店とコラボして出来上がるので有名店の味そのままとは行かないが敬意を表して丁寧に作る。丼もスープの素も温めお湯の量もしっかり計り茹で時間も計測。

麺は日持ちする様半生になっている。そのせいかもちもち感も腰も物足りない。

スープは結構トンコツのコクが効いており魚介の風味とマッチしている。化学調味料がかなり強く改めて日本の大衆食文化の化学調味料漬けぶりが分かる。なるほどこれに慣れているとうちの味がパンチがないと感じる人が多いのもうなずける。

食べているうちにカンスイと茹で切った時に抜けきってないアルコール保存料の味がスープに溶けだしてきて匂いが気になる。やはり塩ラーメンはごまかしが効かない。うちではこれを気にして塩ラーメンの麺には炭酸カリウムを抑え炭酸ナトリウムのカンスイを使用している。

塩といえばあっさりだがこういう塩一筋の店ではトンコツ強めのコクがある塩もありだな、というか素直に塩もコクを出せば贅沢感のある一品にしあがるんだと参考になった。

M君、ご馳走様!参考になったよ。御守りもわざわざありがとう!その気持ちもあわせていちばんの御守りになるわ!

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メキシカンつけ麺 Mexican tsukemen

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!

遊びでつくってみました。

アボカドとサルサが入った漬けダレで頂きます。

けっこういける!

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New stock pot

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!

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Men-Jikan @ Geebung

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!


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