Since moving to Japan, the once thing I promised myself I’d never write about is ramen. I’m hardly an expert and I think there are as many food bloggers covering ramen art as there are shops in Tokyo. That said, I’ve decided I’m a big fat hypocrite, because the Tokyo Ramen Show at Komazawa Park* was an epic food fantasy adventure.
Even Google showed up, so you know it’s legit.
Twenty ramen shops from all over the country set up shop each week for the two week noodle fest, each featuring a distinct regional specialty. Bowl tickets were 800 yen each—I bought three (that’s right, yeah three bowls). As a rule, at any Japanese food fest, I roll deep.
The research I did prior suggested there would be chaos: ten zillion people there, ramen bowls flying, lines an hour long. None of this was true, which goes to show, you can’t trust the internet for anything. Sure it was busy and lines were long, but ramen masters are a speedy lot, and dished out bowls with such zeal and alacrity I think the longest we waited was maybe ten minutes, tops.
Enough jibber jabber. Here’s what I ate:
Bowl 1: Shinshu Mentomo Ramen, Nagano
Tons of fresh pepper made this one stick out, but it was similar to the standard Chinese-style ramen you can get anywhere. Loads of bamboo, nori, and green onion toppings. It was a good starter, but I wanted to try something totally different for round two.
Bowl 2: Chicken-Shrimp Wonton Ramen by Hakata Ippudo, Fukuoka
This one rocked my socks. Spicy (not hot) chili paste, suuuper finely chopped green onion, and ground pork on top of candy sweet shrimp wontons, on top of perfectly cooked ramen in a chicken base broth. This was freaking delicious and I will hunt it down in Fukuoka.
Bowl 3: Tsujii Ramen, Aomori Prefecture
Pork miso ramen with a strong fishy-salty taste. That might be because the broth is made with shoryu and dried sardines. WHOOSH. The Nagao Chinese noodles are a specialty in Aomori… they were tasty. The uber-fishy taste isn’t my thing, but it could have also been that by this point I was about to explode.
The Ramen Grand Prix is definitely worth checking out, and not at all the hassle the interwebs made it sound like it would be.
*This was also my first visit to Komazawa Park. Gorgeous this time of year.