Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Kikanbou, Kanda (鬼金棒)

Ahahahaha. I started laughing when I saw pictures of the ramen here. It shows up on ramendb as a top shop in Kanda, then gets pretty good scores for a ramen shop on tabelog. Those are mere data points, tit-bits and suggestions, but the pictures don't lie, and the pictures were awesome. From what you can see, you can see bright red soup oozing around noodles, pork and bean sprouts like evil, sentient lava.

While waiting in line...yeah, I waited in line for this ramen, after walking almost 20 minutes to get to the northerly extreme of Kanda so I could eat there. There were 5 people ahead of me, which is half the capacity of the shop. So while waiting in line, I had plenty of time to ponder the deeper meanings of their logo and style. The demon motif is pretty obvious given the spicy focus - the name is something like "demon's golden club", and I think those demons are some kinda Buddhist demi-deities, so the clubs are probably to encourage pure thinking among the devout.

Spiciness also encourages purity, no? They call their style 'kalashibi ramen', where the kala means spicy, and the shibi means tingling. Once I figured that out, and saw the two-sided poster where you can choose your level of red demon and blue demon, I guessed that the shibi was sansho, the prickly ash-derived spice that makes your tongue tingly or numb. So you can choose your level of red pepper and your level of sansho, and demolish your taste buds.

This all sounds like gimmick ramen, but it's not. It's really not. Except maybe the grilled baby corn on top? This is serious ramen, thoughtfully thought out and very well-prepared. Plus it will kick your ass, deliciously. I got mashi-mashi with the egg topping. I would advise in favor of mashi-mashi, the top levels of each spiciness before you have to pay Y100 extra to get 'demon spicy'; for me, this was just to the good side of edibility.  I would advise against getting the egg - not that the egg wasn't close to perfection, it was. Just that the soup is so damn thick, sludgy and bestial that you're not going to appreciate the subtle textures of the gelled egg yolk.

You know what you should do? Get the extra pork topping. This pork was so good I kept poking in the soup, hoping there were more bits concealed in there. It's like perfect barbeque, and if I saw correctly they also grill it a bit before throwing it in. Pork can be different from this, but not better. I would buy a whole roast from wherever they get them, or from them if they make them. This is it (by my standards).

The noodles look hand-made, with a nice irregularity and strong chewiness, left firm to soften in the magma. Great noodles. And the soup? Oog, just look at it, bubbling away malevolently. It was nearly thick enough to be tsukemen soup, really coating the noodles heavily. By the way, there was a fair percentage of women there, and guys ordering low-level spicy, so don't let any of the above turn you off (of course, if you're not turned on by this point, nothing's going to help).

Damn was this good. I'm not sure how soon I can go back, because with the walk and the wait it takes quite a while, and temperatures are going to be over 30 for the forseeable future. Maybe that's just an excuse, because I felt distinctly odd the rest of the day, almost like a demon had clubbed me.


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