Sunday, June 20, 2010

Ramen Boo, Monzennakacho (ラーメン ぶぅ)

This is a big chain that recently opened a store in the rotating ramen shop slot in the eastern extent of Eitai Dori, Tomioka 1 or so. Seriously, I think this is at least the 4th ramen shop to open in that same storefront in the years I've lived in Monnaka - once it's set up for ramen, I guess it's easy for someone else to open there. The store is fit out with a funny high counter; I think it was originally supposed to offer a measure of privacy to diners since the master wouldn't be staring them down all the time, but in practice it just feels like you're facing a wall while you eat, and they can't hand bowls over the counter because it would be catastrophic if one spilled. Like so many places these days, they're trying to rock a dual-entertainment concept, with cheap snacks and beer at night to let you feel like you're in an izakaya even though you can't/don't want to go to one. Last night they had three empty cases of Hoppy stacked up outside, so somebody must be taking them up on it.

Boo's ramen is in a style I don't quite understand - it says something on the bowl about being 'born in the north country' but is pork-based with thin Hakata-style noodles. Come to think of it, the black oil (burned onions) I got on mine is also a Hakata thing, isn't it? And there was plenty of garlic on the counter, and cheap refills on noodles (labeled kaedama). But no kalashi takana. So I dunno. Can you see the pork? Seriously, it's just a slice of fat. You can call it 'lardo' and pretend it's a fantastic Italian specialty, but it's still just pure pork fat, OK? The noodles had an unfortunate floury taste to me, and even though we both got kaedama, we both agreed it was an unfortunate choice since there wasn't enough soup, it wasn't hot enough, and the woman working the shop left the second set of noodles very very hard for both of us - all of which meant they didn't soften in the soup, which wasn't good.

It turns out that Boo is a sub-brand of Hokkaido chain Mutsumi-ya (which originated between Sapporo and Asahigawa, in Tsukigata, but is miso-driven; I think the web site says the founder of Mutsumiya created this pork-based style for a ramen convention.). That was the shop that was in this outlet before Boo, so I guess it doesn' really count as going out of business. It also helps explain why they have the same side dishes and snacks. Nothing can really explain why I'm spending so much time ruminating on a bowl of noodles I didn't like that much, nor why I've suddenly developed a need to fit them into a recognized style.

Next time, better ramen. And less fuss.

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