Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Yanakasou ramen, Hirai (やなか草)

Another day off, another long bike ride with noodles in the middle (spoiler alert: the next two days are going to look the same). This time was up to Hirai, a northeastern neighborhood that has a highly-rated French restaurant I wanted to see in person. It's a bit odd to go up there by bike, have a look at the restaurant, and then eat ramen, but considering the price of that place, I wanted to see it before going. Yanakasou is the best-rated ramen in the area, and here we are.

The shop is more reminiscent of a soba restaurant, actually, with the rough wood counter and communal table. They were doing a pretty good trade, which is pretty good for a restaurant out in Hirai a few days before the new year.

And here we are - very nice, straightforward ramen. I got an egg, but it was oddly undistinguished. If you went here, I'd have to say extra pork would be the way to go.

A little noodle porn for you all...

There was something curiously gentle about everything here, but not in a subtle or enticing way. I didn't have any desire to drink the soup, let's put it that way.

Just as I was reflecting on how there's a tradition of eating soba to mark the year end but no comparable tradition for ramen, I looked up and saw this "Year End Ramen" poster. All I could think after that was that if there's 年越しそば and 年の瀬ラーメン, can 年尻チャーハン be far behind?

That's about all I can say about this place. How about some random pictures?

This was quite an appropriate find on the street, what with Poshand having watched the movie recently (and me getting it and needing to watch it, reminder). Can't help wondering though - what are they trying to imply? What would they do to your hair if you went here?

Likewise this car. You'll have to blow up the pic to get the full glory, but evidently down in Nara, the land of wild deer roaming the streets between temples, they're also into driving vintage Caddys with 'DOPE LIFE: King of Street' emblazoned on the windshields.

I freestyled after leaving Hirai. Not unexpectedly, it was dull, so I was thinking I needed to see something else. Being by the river made me want to follow it around northwest to Senju; on the way I passed this little shrine. Frustratingly, I'm unable to locate it on the map; it's a branch of a larger Tenso 天祖 shrine nearby, and doesn't seem to be indicated.

Throughout the day, the Sky Tree was a constant presence. It's getting to be fun, looking up and seeing it at random times, including out my window as I write this. Keep your eyes peeled. I would imagine that before long you'll be able to see it from lots of places in the city, not just the Great Northeast.
Getting home by a circuitous route, I had another WTF moment when seeing this knife store. This is just about on my street - if you go north for a couple kilometers, it's just about at the corner of Asakusa Dori. I've seen the top-quality-looking knives before but never really looked, and thus was surprised that it said "Masamoto Headquarters" (or however you want to translate 総本店). As part of my endless, tiresome (to you) quest to prove what a great neighborhood I live in, I thought "Hell, this famous knife manufacturer has their headquarters on my street?!" It's the real deal, they're nice knives, and I'm pretty sure these are the ones you would get in America if you bought a 'Masamoto hocho'. However, if you start googling, you'll see that there's additional snobbery to be had. In Tsukiji, you'll find a Masamoto shop there, along with the Aritsugu and other brands. And that Masamoto, Tsukiji Masamoto, tells you big as life on their web site that they're the real thing - they split off from the other one years ago, and now they focus on selling direct to save cost and focus on their customers' needs, while the 'Headquarters' brand is for intermediated distribution - department stores and such, they say. If my Japanese was better, I'm pretty sure I'd get a solid whiff of snobbery there.


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