Monday, April 19, 2010

Yoshimaru Ramen, Yaesu (由丸)

It's not that I wanted to eat Hakata ramen two days in a row. But a note to late diners everywhere - 3 PM is just too late for lunch. Most places will be closed, except those places that stay open all day, which is going to get you into a lot of chains. The worst thing is Rokurinsha, a super-famous tsukemen place that has a branch in the basement of Tokyo station. 2:45 PM? 25 people in line. Tried again 2 days later. Same time, same number of people.

Still, I love Hakata ramen, and Yoshimaru was just fine.

I've seen this chain mostly at the intersection of Roppongi Dori with whatever street that is that goes up to Akasaka; during the odd periods when we were taking taxis back and forth all the time between the offices in Roppongi and Otemachi, I'd always see that place and think 'Chain. Industrial. Feh.' I guess I've lost some of that snobbery; chains in Japan are weird because they're often run in oddly individual ways; I don't think there's as much quality control and 'area management' across branches as there could be. Which isn't a bad thing - I just think it means the individual stores express different things about the personality of the chain and the style of the managers. Of course, if this is a franchise then you and I just wasted the last paragraph. Now that I've checked it out, I feel I should tell you there are 'only' about 12 stores, and they're almost all in Tokyo (except for Singapore, Kwongster...), so you could doubt the provenance of their style.

It's a damn good thing their corporate color is yellow, because that goes really nicely with the yellow cast this cheap-ass camera gives all the pictures. Inside the store is pleasantly light-woody and furnished in a decent style. There's a real push in the ramen industry to clean up and make things more stylish (on which issue I'm neutral). People filtered in and out while I was there, which is pretty surprising for 3 PM.

This is the Kalaka Ramen, and the 'kala' does indeed mean spicy. This tasted like there were lashings of yuzu koshou in the soup, which was frankly an AWESOME technique! I love yuzu koshou and wish it was served pretty much everywhere, like on toast at breakfast bars, or on pens for snacking during long meetings. I also like this style of putting a bunch of seaweed around the outside of the bowl (also done this way at Marukin, so I'm forced to conclude that it's a Hakata specialty. Two points constitutes conclusive proof around here.). There was some spicy takana in the bowl to kick things up a further notch. BAM!

Look, if half-boiled eggs aren't traditional in Hakata, why are they on the menu? Maybe just because they're good. This one was better than the previous day, e.g., the yolk was cleanly gelified all the way through rather than having odd differences in texture. A just-set egg yolk is an awesome thing. Incidentally, this picture is cool, isn't it? And incidentally, spicy tonkotsu soup is a great thing, and the pork and noodles here were good. No kaedama, I'm trying to cut back.

All I need now's a trip to Hakata. Ohhh, the fat...

1 comment:

  1. oh yummy delicious! ur blog just made me miss japan even more!