Friday, June 11, 2010

Pork Noodle Research Center Shan, Kanda (豚麺研究所 香)

Update 11/2010: Sorry, this is closed and there's a new place in the space that I hear is crappy.

You know how there are a lot of security guards everywhere in Japan? Well, maybe not compared to America, but it seems like a lot. The difference is that in Japan they're so often little old guys. I'm particularly struck by the guys that the Metro has working in Nihonbashi; their company is "Oriental Guard Research". Doesn't that sound weird? I'm not talking about the obvious that you can make, like doing research on Oriental guards, or Oriental guards doing research on you (though I did see that on the internet one time, I think). I'm talking about the sad little way they're trying to glamorize a minimum wage, low-self-respect position. I feel bad for the guards.

But you know, the research these guys are doing into pork noodles in a tiny shop in Kanda is really paying off. I hope they're making more than minimum wage. Yer basic concept here is tsukemen, which is like ramen but the noodles are separate from the soup, and the soup is much thicker, and you pick up some noodles and dip them in the soup and eat them. And of course, since they're researching pork noodles, all of the bowls here come with lots of thin-sliced pork belly mixed into the mix (which in turn is based on a chicken / pork stock).

The 'research' part come in when they include big cylinders of cooked green onion (usually it's sliced very thin and thrown on raw), plentiful helpings of mushroom, some pea sprouts, and a side order of cold steamed bean sprouts. And the research goes into high gear when they throw on a mound of home-made chili paste, which had a distinct southeast Asian vibe to me (fried garlic, fried chili, fried onions). It was even quite spicy, possibly because I requested the 'mega spicy' level (really. I can't remember what the lower levels were, because as soon as he said 'mega', I was all like "OMG supersize me MF!" He was a little skeptical that a foreigner could take the heat (as if Japanese people can?), but I think the chef really did it up as requested.

You can choose thick or thin noodles, regular size with an egg or large size without, and hot or cold noodles, all for one lowlow price, and I bet it all tastes pretty much the same, but it's a good taste, so who cares? Note to self, don't get the hot, thin version again - since they're not washed after coming out of the pot, they stick together something fierce before you try to eat.

They have drinks and small plates at night - more recession-era doubletasking, I'd say. And it turns out that they're an outpost of a shop in Gakugeidaigaku, a bit west of ShiBOOya, and that place is also a bar at night, but with girls on the second floor.

Just so's you know.

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