Monday, October 19, 2009

Keisuke Gaiden Ramen, Tokyo (けいすけ外伝)

Ramen fever gripped me as I left the office today, and it was late enough that I figured the lines would be gone down at Tokyo Station's Ramen Street.


Still, with a few minutes of patience I was able to work my way up the pecking order and try another place. I say 'pecking order' because there's a clear difference in length of line. The shop I visited last time had a short line, whereas one of the others had no line (fortunately they used to have a branch in my neighborhood, so I can rationalize that I've already been). Today's venue is the 2nd-longest line; the most popular shop had a forbidding 20 people waiting even at 2:15. Fortunately it's a tsukemen specialist, so I don't mind.

The specialty, nay, the hook, at Keisuke's place is the soup - this is ramen in lobster soup (rock lobster, Ise Ebi). That soup is semi-clear, but thick and really rich with lobster flavor. It's the kind of soup that makes me want to drink the whole bowl even though you should stop when the noodles are gone. The most popular item (大人気#1♪!) is the ramen with egg, so I got that. The egg was excellent; only the second time I can remember having an egg cooked just perfectly like that. Somehow the white is cooked, but the yolk has gently set into a soft, clear, deep-orange gel with gorgeous taste and texture. Yowza. Cholesterol aside, I'm glad I got one. You can convince yourself it's OK because the soup isn't (?) made with pork fat, and instead of roast pork you get a little piece of boiled chicken with it. The noodles are soba-style, kinda thin and rectangular in cross section, and are largely lacking flavor (at least compared to the soup, which is the relevant thing in the world of the bowl). Special mention for the threads of hot pepper and the shreds of yuzu peel.

Serving utensils also bear special mention. To accompany the artsy picture of long-haired, artistic/sensitive Keisuke outside, the bowls are like sliced-off spheres that come on special wooden bases. One side os higher than the other; this is meant to make it easier to get the noodles out on the low side, but I was very pleased to have a bit of extra clearance and turned the 'splash guard' to the shirt side, if you take my meaning. The spoons are the other funny feature - they're more like spoon rests, in that you could fit a big cooking ladle comfortably on them, and you certainly can't fit your mouth comfortably around them. Maybe this is to make you sip, or maybe it's just arty and sensitive. It doesn't matter, because the soup is awesome.


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