Sunday, April 25, 2010

Junren Ramen, Takadanobaba (純連)

Really great weather today, and with no particular responsibilities I decided to wander through the Okubo guitar stores (as well as the little street of Halal food stores, did you know that was there? Opposite the station exit, jog to the left.).  The way to Okubo for me involves changing trains in Takadanobaba (or walking one stop from there, as I did). Baba is meant to be a good area for ramen, so I fired up ramendb to find a place to eat on the way. Here it is - #2 in the area, Junren. A score of 73 puts it in the top 200 or so on ramendb (not bad out 26,000 listed), and I straight up didn't like it a bit. Pisser!  This sucks especially since I love miso ramen, and blogs I trust rave about Junren.

This action shot came out well, don't you think? It's just because the weather was so good. Junren does Sapporo-style ramen, as indicated by the 'Sapporo' on the sign. There were 4 or 5 people waiting outside when I got there, and a few more inside. Considering that I had walked pretty far from the station to get there (including passing a branch of Hakata Furyu that had a bunch of people waiting outside; glad to see the masses agree with me on that one), I waited.

This guy was going to a nice-looking Hakata-style ramen next door. Me, I managed to suffer through 50km on the bike in the morning to work up the karma to visit Junren, but I've been where he is and felt a little kinship with him. No further comment.

Inside is a bit drab - not just industrial-ramen-drab, but depressive. A bunch of celebrity endorsements on the left wall give the impression that it really is famous, but no one is talking or excited. The staff really put a damper on things too - no talking, let alone shouting. I've been to plenty of quiet places - either they're serious about the work, or there's a hushed silence... here, it just seemed down.  A weird point - see the guy on the left walking toward the back? That curtain is the exit. There are always people waiting in the entrance, so you're expected to go out the back way.

No, I don't learn my lessons (but where would the blog be if I did?). Miso chashu with egg.

Pretty good egg ('great' would involve uniform consistency across the yolk, but nothing wrong with this one), good noodles (curly, medium-thick, yellow, chewy Hokkaido-style) but really a letdown overall. The soup didn't have that much flavor, and this is the most surprising thing about the whole experience. The thick layer of oil on top, is also part of the package, but a heavy part of it. The pork was cut very thick, and from a loaf that included a lot of cartilege. I wasn't feelin' it.

In fact I was so not feelin' it that this is where I stopped. At least you can see what the noodles looked like. Oh, and Junren is on the expensive side for ramen, if that's of interest.

After lunch I walked down to Okubo, hit the guitar stores, walked around looking at Korean stuff, and gradually walked all the way back over to Waseda to go home. On the way I accidentally wandered through Kabukicho (accidentally! Don't start with me!) and saw

yeah, a 'pig club'. It takes all types, but I thought you'd enjoy the frisson of weirdness here.

Holy cow, only 3 stores nationwide, doing business since 1939. What did I miss?

I'm starting to wonder if the allergies I've had since Saturday morning killed the taste. After reading others' opinions, I feel like a Philistine for not loving this.

1 comment:

  1. I don't blame you - the pork chashu looks awful. Looks boiled and so thick. The soup looks glossy thick. I trust your taste in food and this is one place I am not interested in trying. But then I really prefer Tokyo style shoyu ramen anyway.