Saturday, May 29, 2010

Hokuto Ramen, Tsukiji (北都)


Went to Tsukiji today, to make a new friend...hi! I'll give you a little pointer for free - go after lunch on Saturday, before the shops close, and blocks of tuna like this will be half-price. This ended up being the same price as a watery-looking specimen half the size in the grocery store. You can also get toro as fatty as you want...but only if you live in Tokyo.

To get to the store where I bought this, start at Tsukiji crossing and walk along the side of the outer market where all the ramen and donburi places are. Take the first left and look for the fridges on the left with tons of tuna like this. It's called 大興, but it's very hard to see the sign.

Anyway, when in Tsukiji you have to eat a bowl of something, and it doesn't have to be fish. I've thought about this place for years; the first time I ever went to Tsukiji it's where I ate. (Yes, the last few months have been kinda sentimental.)  Went and looked at it a few weeks ago but didn't eat. Today I did, and it was pretty good, classic, mellow. No big need for you to go. 'Northern City' in the name refers to Asahigawa, the northernmost ramen city in Japan, and the theme carries over to the decor, at least as much is possible in an 8-seat shop, with posters showing the splendor of Asahigawa's urban sprawl against a mountain backdrop.

Classic, mellow also describes the guy running the place with his wife, much as he must have been when I went years ago. The thing that really struck me about him was that he times the noodles with a digital kitchen timer, and his style of shaking out the water is very relaxed.

Of course that need not impact his product, which you can see is pretty normal. I'm not sure if I missed out on the proper Asahigawa product by getting the basic ramen (not soy), but I think his soup is the same regardless. It was certainly a nice soup with a lot of flavors and no bad notes, but I was a little distracted by the oil layer on top (which is a way of saying I don't like the style that much, since it's Asahigawa style). The standout element in the bowl was probably the egg, which means there's no need to make a trip to try this one.


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