地産地消・Food Tourism

May 6, 2018

The latest food trend is super local food tourism. Led by Chefs like Rene Redzepi of Noma and Ana Ros of the Hiša Franko.

I have never talked with Rene or Ana nor dined at neither of these establishments so I can only talk with my perception of what information there is in the media and with second or third hand information about Brisbane Chefs that have worked at Noma, so some might rightfully be appalled for me to compare or even talk about my humble ramen shop in the same page as these super stars but I wanted to talk about it. Honestly, I think what they are doing is great and I love their passion and it is inspiring but I don’t envy them or idolize them at all. I know what my concept is and I think we are on the same plane in the context of providing a delicious food experience, but we are on the opposite sides of the spectrum.

Noma and Hisa Franko, they strictly stick to super local produce and forage for the ingredients themselves. Of course ingredients are fresh and by foraging, they are able to embrace the wild flavours sometimes unavailable in commercial or domesticated farmed ingredients. Chefs know the ingredients deeply so it is super traceable. The down side is, as a customer, you are paying for Rene and his superstar chef team to forage wild ingredients. This is super inefficient, so uneconomical and basically goes against why man planted a seed in the beginning to start farming. Of course the food mile on the plate is super low but to dine at Noma and Hisa Franko, customers are travelling super long miles to get to that table and forking out a fortune for the meals. Of course this is all good and I would love to dine at these restaurants once in my life and that is what it is, an once in a life experience to travel and immerse yourself in what the local land and sea has to offer, presented by the experts of the land, through a culinary experience.

The reason why I fell in love with ramen is because it was so delicious and affordable at the same time. It’s made with bones that would have been thrown away and have no prime value and the plating is so systematic you don’t need Academy trained Chefs or silverware, linens, back office staff to take reservations or in the case of Japan, cashiers even. You cue up in the line, once inside, put your money in the ticket machine, wait for the cooks to assemble the soup, toppings, noodles in a few minutes, eat, clean your bench, and leave, vacating the seat for the diner behind you. Easy it is, but delicious it is… That soup has been meticulously calculated and perfected time and time during the history of the shop or maybe even longer when you consider the added history of any mentors the shop owner might have had. The charsiu has been boiled and marinated to perfection, the egg has been intricately prepared, all the hours of hard work, condensed into the single bowl and yet, due to the simplified process and efficiencies you can enjoy it for less than your hourly wage. You can afford to enjoy it every day if you wanted to.

We don’t forage but I also believe in local produce like local shallots, sprouts, organic eggs, where possible and where it is important. The freshness is great and often irreplaceable. but in some instances, we use frozen produce like Edamame. Pork, my good friend jolly Pat drives it up from Bangalow weekly so my hundreds of customers don’t have to travel 300km. Well it’s a balancing game. I like to make my own noodles using locally milled unbleached flour with our small noodle making machine and that is less efficient compared to purchasing large scale factory made noodles. So I think, to my customers, just as Rene is to his customers, I am being a trusted expert to be the guide to combine various quality ingredients and passion to produce an experience but in my case, we factor in economy so that I can provide an every day food experience. The dollar value of this everyday experience is of course a fraction of the price of a meal at Noma and so I am able to offer this to more people on more occasions. So it gives me great satisfaction in providing so many local Brisbane people with an authentic delicious but everyday food experience. And the accessibility and repetition creates a relationship. During the 8 years of serving ramen to Brisbane, I have seen babies born, kids grow up, and even a few regulars pass away. I feel a strong connection with my customers and when I see a top haute cuisine chef talking on the media or receiving an award with their proud expressions, I somehow feel happier than them and reinforce my belief in keeping at what I do.

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食育/Food Education 2

May 20, 2016
SONY DSC

SONY DSC

“Food Education 2”

There are actually quite a few “little” big fans of our ramen especially the dashi driven Shio, shoyu and tsukemen. These guys actually choose us as their birthday meals over McDonald’s. I am quite flattered and am slightly moved thinking that I am contributing a bit to a future of eating well.

I try to flood my normal adult customers with information about the technique, source and passion that goes into my bowl but that kind of intellectual overload aside,  the kids just simply love our flavour. Some of us adults including me, have been crammed with overwhelming flavours for a long time that we have just become so used to overloaded flavours and we just keep on wanting more stimulation or unconsciously leaning towards heavier flavours. The kids on the other hand have the most sensitive palates. They usually dislike spicy or too strong flavours. I think that is the way they should be. Their palate will naturally mature and start to want the spiciness or the stimulation as they grow older but while they are young their palate should be free to explore the various different foods within subtle natural flavours and that should hone their sense of taste and make them able to appreciate subtle differences. Once they are introduced to heavy or artificial flavours, it could be detrimental to their palate growth and building a sense of taste refined enough to enjoy the various flavours in the world, let alone growing up healthily, period. I find it intriguing and humbled that kids find the Shio or the shoyu to be a favourite in their field of subtle natural flavours.

Thanks kids and thanks parents for educating their palates right!

「食育2」

実はTaro’s Ramen、意外にもお子様のファンが多いんです。特に出汁の効いた塩や醤油、つけ麺などを好んで誕生日などの日に指定してくれる子が多いのです。後は、ご帰国された方とお話をする際に子供がTaro’sのラーメンが食べたいと言っているとも良く言われます。

子供というのは味覚がまだ発展途上、自然と辛いものやしょっぱ過ぎるものなど刺激を避ける傾向にあります。親として子供の味覚を育てる上でも刺激だけではなく科学調味料を遠ざけないと、味覚が馬鹿になってしまい大人になった時に些細な味の違いに気づけなくなり、後々は濃いめ好きで健康被害の恐れがあるだけでなく人生楽しめなくなってしまうと思います。

僕自身の子供時代(今でも実は結構好きで・・・)を振り返ってみても、甘い、もしくは油っぽいもの、例えばマクドナルドなどは自然に多くの子供が選ぶものですが、結構な数の子供達がうちの味をここまで支持してくれる事は光栄であるとともにとても未来にむけて明るい気持ちになれます。

子供たち、いつもありがとう!そして親御さんもお子様の食育に良い選択をありがとうございます!

太郎


Master Chef Recommended Ramen!!

February 28, 2015

Some of you have asked which ramen Master Chef, Adam Liaw had and instagrammed at the BrisAsia – Taste of Asia Food Festival on Feb 27th.

It was the Red Tonkotsu Extra Thin Noodle with Extra Smoke Ajitama.

To be honest, as much as Adam loved our ramen, we prepped a tad too much for the event so we are currently putting the same menu on special at the City Shop to commemorate the honor!

Deluxe Tonkotsu Ramen Super deal for 13.90 or 14.90 for Red/Fire.  Comes with unlimited extra noodles, extra soup, extra charsiu, extra Smoke Ajitama.  Come in before it runs out.

https://t.co/67Kr6JQ39S

Thanks once again Adam for the kind recommendation!


Upgrade to Tonkotsu Soup / 豚骨スープの改良について

May 26, 2014

Upgrade to Tonkotsu Soup

Tonkotsu, Red Tonkotsu and Fire Tonkotsu Ramen
$1.00 discount until upgrade is complete.

We have started to utilize pressure cooking of our soup and are currently tweaking the recipe and methods. The benefits of pressure cooking are 1) able to get a denser more freshly gelatinous soup, 2) fuel efficient = ecofriendly, 3) supply quantity increases. As of today, the resulting soup tastes beautiful using the same ingredients as before but the taste does not maintain until the end of the day. When the soup is fresh (this is best at 11:30 beginning of lunch shift) the soup is gelatinous, rich and tastes wonderful. However during the course of the day, it gradually loses emulsification and becomes light. This is what we are trying to improve. In the meantime, we will continue to serve Tonkotsu ramen but just as a token of our appreciation for your understanding, we will discount $1.00. Thank you for your cooperation. We certainly welcome any feedback and will reflect in our upgrading process.

Taro

豚骨スープの改良について

改良期間中、豚骨ラーメン、赤豚骨ラーメン、
鬼赤豚骨ラーメン$1.00引き

当店ではスープの製法に圧力鍋を取り入れはじめ、レシピを確定させるまで微妙な試行錯誤を繰り返しております。圧力鍋のメリットは①、よりゼラチン質がフレッシュな濃いスープがとれる、②、エコ、③、可能提供量が増える、などです。5月27日時点での課題として、基本的な具材は今までと変わりませんが、スープの仕上がりは満足いくものの、味の持続性が安定しておりません。出来上がりすぐの状態(ランチ営業開始直後がベスト)は以前よりもはるかにゼラチン感豊かな味わいで濃度もしっかり出ている状態で味わえますが営業中に保温を続けていると濃度は変わらないものの今までのスープと違い、乳化がとけはじめ、さらっとしすぎてしまいます。これを解決しようとしている所です。引き続き商品として豚骨ラーメンを提供していきますが、安定した味になるまでもうしばらくご理解ください。その間、ほんの気持ちですが豚骨ラーメンを1ドル値引きして提供致します。ぜひスタッフにご感想をフィードバックください。ご意見参考にさせていただき今後のスープ作りに反映していきます。

店主


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!

MeimonMeimon2Meimon3Meimon4Meimon5Meimon6Meimon7

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。

GogyoGogyo2

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。

WatanabeWatanabe 2

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!

IchibanboshiIchiban 2Ichiban 3

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).

Tenkaippin

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.

NishikiNishiki hamoNishiki eating

Doshisha Uni, Otani Uni.

DoshishaOtani

Nanzenji Temple and Biwako Sosui.

Biwako 2Biwako SosuiNanzenji

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

Bike

Farewell Japan till next time!


August Special – The Ultimate Truffle Ramen / 究極のトリュフラーメン

August 3, 2012

<期間数量限定、8月限定>

 

究極のトリュフラーメン

3層のトリュフが織り成す世界3大グルメの至高の香り

トリュフタペナードを練りこんだ特製平打ち麺

イタリア産白トリュフを使用したナチュラルトリュフオイル、Olio Tartufoがスープを覆う

WA Manjimup産生黒トリュフのスライスをトッピング

$29.90

<Limited Menu – During August Only!>

The Ultimate Truffle Ramen

3 layers of truffle ingredients create this exquisite bowl

1) Specially homemade Fettucine style noodles with truffle tapenade kneaded into the dough

2) Naturally flavoured Italian white truffle oil packing the characteristic pungent aroma

3) Fresh Australian winter truffles from Manjimup WA sliced on top to provide the final divine perfume

$29.90


Tonkotsu Soup

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.