Sunday, July 4, 2010

Chabuton, Minami Funabashi

Went to Ikea this weekend, which is way out in God's country, following the curve of Tokyo Bay towards Chiba City. Turns out I went the wrong way when I went before, and with a little extra walking on the home end of the trip, the train only takes 30 minutes (not 60). When you get to Minami Funabashi (South Shipbridge - isn't there a place called that in South Jersey too?), you can see the megastore buildings (Ikea, an auto racing complex, a huge mall...really, big even by US standards) but first you have to wander through a meadow toward some projects. Japan is funny like that.

And inside, boy is it American. This will be a junk shot to any Americans (or displaced Hokkaido-ans) since it looks so common. Could just as well be San Diego, right? Except me and one other guy were the only white people.

It was time for the Tanabata festival, a quaint Japanese custom involving leaping, tumbling, and man-on-man genital mutilation with kitchen objects. This was the team presentation of the event.

Inside the mall, people were also getting their American on. This kid was slumped against the wall near the bathroom, outside the Forever 21 store, just admiring his coolness through some indoor sunglasses and stroking his limited biceps.

While his girlfriend, already working on Japanese couple philosophy, sat around the corner and ignored him, preferring to text her friends.

A cool thing about malls in Japan is that they're not all junk food (mostly though). Or maybe that the Japanese elevate junk food to art sometimes, so even though it's a mall, you can find branches of famous junk-food stores. Chabuton is pretty well-known as ramen goes, but not hugely spread out, so I was happy to get to eat there.

They seem to specialize in a more modern, cleaner ramen. This new seasonal offering was 'European style consomme ramen', which looks tasty, no? But I try to limit my ramen visits to the standar offerings so I can get an idea what the place is based on.

And in this case, it's this - a lightish tonkotsu shoyu with medium straight noodles. Good soup, perhaps not as complex or deep as you'd like. Good noodles (free kaedama), plenty of onions, sesame. A nice bowl, in a middle-of-the-road way. Almost like a really great place tried to franchise their recipe and put it into a mall, now that I think of it.

This one, "The Classic" was lighter, replacing the soy sauce in the soup with ginger. Not as good. Suckazzzz!

The noodles were decent; somehow I didn't think they went that well with the soup.

But the egg was very good - perhaps even a bit on the runny side. I really wonder how they cook these eggs - do you think it's done in an immersion circulator so they can get the temperature just right?  It strikes me that this is perhaps a 63-degree egg, where the yolk hasn't quite gelled.

I wouldn't make a special trip here, but if you're faced with one, you certainly won't be disappointed. Maybe try one of the silly flavors for variety, but it's good stuff, executed very competently.


  1. Old Bridge, NJ or Ship Bottom, NJ maybe?

  2. I assume you bought furniture since your real destination was IKEA. My question is how did you bring back the furniture you bought by train? (Unless it was a pencil stand you bought).

  3. I am sure you have thought of Bridgeton and Bridgeport but how about Ship John (the lighthouse)

  4. I may have been thinking of Ship Bottom. There's a Bridgewater also. No Ship Bridge though. Very disappointing.

    No furniture at Ikea - just homewares, which were easy enough to carry home in one of the large bags that they helpfully offer for sale!