Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ryuryuken ramen, Ochanomizu (龍龍軒)

Today I introduced Preacher to the delights of both Hakata ramen and taking the train somewhere for lunch, still getting back in 50 minutes. A mere two stops away from the office is Ochanomizu, where a pleasant view of the Kanda river awaits as you cross from the subway station toward JR and the main part of the neighborhood (no video today), toward the Double Dragon Hall.
Please, someone, some kind soul, tell me why Hakata ramen places have maddeningly inconsistent policies. How can it be that this place (which is part of a small chain off-shot from a tiny, grubby-looking place literally outside Hakata Station) gets right a basic thing that a lot of branches in Tokyo don't (free refill) and misses so many other things that are held dear by Hakata eaters? No garlic. No sesame. No ginger. And you have to pay for the spicy pickled greens. That's right, kalashi takana is a chargeable extra. I hope my indignation is both palpable and righteous by this point. Daaaaaaamn.
Actually, it was better than I expected. The bare-bones food-hall interior is pretty much in keeping with other Hakata places like Fu-ryu (recommended) or Tenjin. Since it's on one of the guitar streets at the top of the hill in Ochanu, I'm always there on off days and at strange times; the constant crowd of businesspeople and college students kept the shop right on the edge of full the whole time we were there. The streets outside were disconcertingly full; maybe college, like lower schools, is just back in session so all the students were milling around at once?
Being of sound mind, aging body, and concerned disposition, I forewent any of the extras that make life grand (they being extra pork and boiled eggs; two fried eggs on toast for breakfast was probably enough for today). Herewith I present unto you the basic ramen (there's also a 'black' version with miso, and it looks quite black in the pictures). The noodles were nicely firm, good texture aside from that. The soup was enjoyable - simple and slightly sweet (a haunting whisper of sweetness...), with none of the punch that you might get if you were in a shop that stank like all hell of boiling pork bones. The pork looks bad but was decent, and there were, thankfully, plenty of Hakata onions atop. Oh, and some bean sprouts (another subtraction from the score; I just ate them first so they'd go away quickly).
This, then, depicts the central dilemma of the shop in a single snapshot (which has been worth only 396 words up to the opening parenthesis of this cloture, not much of a central dilemma). The first refill of the pretty good-noodles is free, but you have to order and pay separately for the spicy pickles. And there's no garlic, ginger or sesame in the picture, which is true of the table and indeed the shop. For me, this is almost too much confusion.

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