Friday, July 30, 2010

Kinariya Ramen, Jimbocho (きなり屋)

Pretty much hopeless to try to classify ramen in Tokyo, isn't it? Maybe even if you venture out to other famous places the ramen also defines description? Surely in Hakata there's no confusion, and pretty much everyone has Hakata ramen?
Kinariya looks nice from the outside, if by 'nice' you mean 'Gonna have some thick, nasty ramen where the soup immediately sticks to the walls of your blood vessels'. It's right around the corner from a couple of places like Tsujita and Matoi - one of which is famous and both of which are better.  Mama is kinda friendly, and the customers are...well...let's not get into it.
With the heat, and the is-it-raining-or-not humidity, tsukemen seemed like the proper course. Finally their function in the world is clear - they're lukewarm ramen for those days when you can't handle a hot, steaming bowl. This is the miso version of the soup; it was strangely addictive, as are many of the more subtle soups - doesn't hit you in the face, but keeps you wanting to drink more. You had the 'thick soy' version, which did indeed look extra-thick and oily. But not so pork-laden, so you don't have to feel that bad eating it. 
Tsukemen come as a plate of cold noodles with some other toppings, to be added gradually to the soup. This one's a little rare because of the shape of the noodles; usually they're more udon-like, fat and white and slippery, not ramen-y. The toppings are also a bit more extensive here than what you get at most places. Tsukemen in Tokyo seems to have evolved along the Rokurinsha/Tetsu model of 'heavy soup, thick noodles, nothing else' (but of course those places are always too crowded to get into - I tried Rokurinsha yet again last week, and at 3:30 PM there were 15 people in line).  This is a welcome relief from the heaviness, especially in the current hot spell.
You's comment was "If this was in Otemachi, it would be popular and have a line. Since it's next to Tsujita, it's half-full while 15 people wait over there." Well, he was less eloquent than that due to some language restrictions, but it's true. His face in this shot probably means "I know you're putting all these pictures on the interwebz."

This is a decent bowl of noodles that deserves a little better than it's getting. 
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