Friday, September 25, 2009

Motoishi, Kanda (もといし)

I am not a big fan of tsukemen. The basic point of the dish is that you get cold noodles and hot, extra-thick soup, and you dip the noodles in the soup to heat them up and flavor them. You're not supposed to drink the soup. My main gripe is that the heat of the soup is never enough to overcome the cool of the noodles, especially over the course of the whole bowl. You end up eating lukewarm soup and lukewarm noodles. I guess I like my noodles properly hot. Or, in the case of cold noodles, properly cold. But this place was pretty good.

The name Motoishi, I'm almost sure, is a play on the name of the part of Kanda where the shop lives - Hongoku. For incompetent readers of Japanese like myself, the easiest way to read the name of the neighborhood is 'Motoishi'. As an incompetent, I'm also unsure how to interpret the two names of the restaurant either - by day it's tsukemen, at night they call it 'Shukemen', which sounds like a pun on the tsuke involving liquor. It's a bit more modern than a lot of shops around there.





Right, noodles. These are big, thick, cool, chewy...and they come with a slice of seaweed. You can order your preferred quantity of noodles, but I recommend the normal size; super-size is 1 pound of noodle. I'm not sure if that's cooked or raw weight, but these are fresh noodles and therefore those two aren't as far apart as dry and cooked pastas. Normal size, and about 10 ounces, was more than enough.




Toppings are pretty normal, but I got pork as usual and was pleased with their unique interpretation. Rather than slicing, they've roasted the pork all the way through and then shredded it. Come to think of it, their pork must be shoulder instead of the loin as is used more commonly. It was a tiny bit dry despite being submerged in the soup, but it tasted very good. Oddly, I could have sworn it was chicken at times, and I kept looking at the texture to see if that was the case.  The soup wasn't very soupy - more a pool of oil with the shredded pork, pork flavor, raw onions and a few sad bits of bamboo shoot and fish cake floating. Very oily, the better to coat the noodles with. I thought it would get cloying, but in the end I almost wanted to drink it.


A few condiments also exist. I like the '17 flavor' hot spice - the normal one is only 7, so this must kick azz! I also liked the focus on onions (cf yesterday's post on the health benefits of grated radish with fatty food; spicy vegetables like onions are equally thought to burn fat). There was a strainer of chipped raw onions, and there was a crock of deep-fried onion chips (pic) that had a wonderful smoky onion flavor.




If there's one aspect of life in Japan in which I'm fluent, it's chopstick use (gotta have small goals, y'know?).  ut noodles still defeat me sometimes (as they do everyone). In this case the score was Noodles 1, Pants 0, but I'll take that action to the cleaners tomorrow. Next time I want tsukemen, I'll also be heading back to Motoishi. Picture at left is the street on the east side of Kanda that I'm constantly talking about.Uninspiring, isn't it? On the left, the long white sign is yesterday's Minatoya.


Oh, it's also the top-ranked ramen place in this area. Not top-class, but good.
03-3548-8899
 

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