Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Kotatsu ramen, Kanda (虎龍)

You could be forgiven for thinking that the name here had something to do with the blanket-covered tables that people are so delighted to slip their legs under in the winter. If you thought of the noodles as a table, and covered it with a warm, meaty blanket of mixed pork cuts, then imagined the inevitable spilled beer to be a heavy miso broth, you'd be pretty close. What I'm trying to say here is that I felt a bit miserable by the end of this even though I think I might like it a lot in the middle of winter, out in the country somewhere. It was 90+ and humid again. What was I thinking, dragging Todd and Shmuel in there?

Kotatsu is a recent offshoot of a store in Shinjuku's Kabukicho, which itself opened not too long ago (early 2010, maybe?). I saw it a few weeks ago while going somewhere else and bookmarked it for later inquiry; at that point I didn't realize it was a Sapporo-style place, but once we started looking at the menu it was pretty obvious. I like a place that tells you what their famous item is, and they were pretty clear about it being the special miso ramen (special in this case seems to mean 'topped with an egg'). We all ponied up Y950 for our tickets...

And got these in short order. Again, I question my wisdom in taking us to a place that floats a layer of oil on top of the soup so it stays hot throughout the bowl. Great for those sub-zero days in Hokkaido, less so the Kanda shotengai. Well, live and learn. Here's what you get in the bowl: thick, heavy miso soup, good job on that. A bunch of sauteed products - mainly onions and ground pork - all mixed in. Bamboo shoots (very sweet in this case). Green onions. A slice of roast pork. Cubes of roast pork. Both of these were unpleasantly tough, by the way. Not inedible or anything, but I couldn't help thinking of Kanzan just down the road, where the main thing is the roast pork.

The main thing here is probably the noodles - very yellow and eggy, very firm, very curly. Great noodles with a lot of 'fight' in them. The soup might be the main thing, depending on your proclivities. Again, if it was winter, I wouldn't be surprised to find myself drinking all of it. Today - impossible. The egg was oddly disappointing; almost like they hadn't cooked it enough, which is an odd and difficult thing to do. I guess the '63 degree egg' really means 63, not more, not less. Take my advice and hold off on Kotatsu as long as it's summer. In winter, I'm pretty sure I'd like this a lot more.

Especially if I could run down the street and get takeout pork from their neighbor...

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