Friday, December 26, 2008

Murasaki Takumi No Tsukemen, Monzennakacho (紫匠乃)

A new tsukemen place opened in Monnaka a while back. In fact, I have a feeling it's going on 2 years, but time moves more slowly for us 江戸っ子. I've thought many times about going, but never pulled it together. Partly it's the plethora of other options in the dining paradise that is Monnaka, and partly it's that tsukemen seem to me like another unnecessary twist on what's already a pretty good thing. (I'm not sure what else I put in this category - how about the endless variations of mochi and red beans that you get on domestic trips, each billed as a unique regional specialty?)

Today, recovering from 2 days of apparent food poisoning brought on most likely by poor food handling (the chef got sick, but not the patrons?), I had a significant desire for ramen or pizza. This led me to brave the elements and visit Menya Kissou in Kiba, finding a solid 25 people in line, and then Koukaibou in Fuyuki, where there were only 15 or so (the length of line corresponds to their fame, and these lines were at 2 PM). I went home hungry, but the desire for noodles persisted. Tonight, after crusing around the neighborhood for a while, I settled in at the tsukemen place.

Options are pretty limited - whatever color you want, as long as it's black - plates of noodles in the size of your choice and with toppings of your choice (nori, chashu, menma, there any need to ask?). The noodles turned out to be interesting - very thick, curly and wheat-y, more like a dense udon than anything else. The soup was fascinating at first. Clearly a mix of pork and fish, which I hear is all the rage (that's what you get at Kissou and Kaikoubou), it included plenty of chunks of hakusai, ground pork, and a cute quail egg. [Aside: I don't like uzutama. The white gets tough when it's cooked, and this bothers me. Last time I had them was at yakitori a while back, and I thought the toughness was just due to the grilling, but this boiled one was tough too.] The problem with the soup was the cloying sweetness. After 2 or 3 minutes, it, well, it cloyed. Cloyingly. This was when things went downhill for me, and I just ate up and left. In fairness, I should note that the chashu was excellent - the long strip version, not the usual rolled kind. Please let me know the names of these if you know 'em!

None of this served to convince me that tsukemen are a necessary foothill residing in supplication to the mountain on the culinary landscape that is ramen. I may try Kissou early tomorrow, like 11:15, and see if I can get in before the line. Or get a pizza...

Errr...I don't think reservations are accepted.

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