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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Tonkotsu Soup Update 豚骨スープ改良続報

September 3, 2014

I recently brought it back to a less emulsified style. You will notice less white color. A layer of small oil dots and darker beige soup.

Less creaminess and more straight on pork flavors. I am now over the full on creamy phase and prefer the gelatinous and porky soup.

Along with this, salt content was reduced because the emulsification used to mask the saltiness as well and there is no need now.

I had one negative feed back from a customer that she preferred the full cream version but overall, many good feedback. I think it tastes very close to original soup but stronger collagen feel and fresh pork flavors.

Only noticeable big difference is that due to the emulsification bond on the soup being low, the oil completely becomes clear and the soup turns very dark once you stop eating. As always, I prefer not to add chemicals ie soy lecithin or xanthan gum etc to cope but rely on my trusty old stick blender to provide the small level of emulsification I feel is right so please do me a favor and enjoy it quickly.

現在はご覧の通り、真っ白ではなく乳化をだいぶ抑えた従来の48時間煮込みのTaro’sのスープに近い形で落ち着いています。圧力鍋で濃度は従来の20%増しですし、コラーゲンの感じ、豚の風味が、最近Night Noodle Markets前後の時期に採用していた乳化多めのスープよりこっちの方がダイレクトに伝わり気に入っています。乳化を抑えるとタレの塩度が立つため、タレの量も減らしています。スープの乳化具合をちょうどいい具合にキープするための乳化剤(レシチン、キサンサンガムなど)を投入する方法もあるようですが、そこは絶対に当店のポリシーでありえないので直前にスティックブレンダ―で弱めに乳化をかけて食べごろで提供しています。食べ追わったころには乳化が解けて脂の層と黒っぽいスープの層になってしまいます。ぜひそうなる前にお召し上がりください。味のFeedbackもしありましたらよろしくお願いします。

 

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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


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).

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.

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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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