Thursday, February 24, 2011

Shodai Keisuke, Hongo (初代けいすけ)

Keisuke has a bunch of different ramen shops and deserves a lot of credit for being creative. The first one I went to was the 'lobster noodle' place, which is like a very light, lobster-flavored ramen (and nothing like the lobster noodles you might get in Southeast Asia). That one's called "Second Generation Keisuke", so I thought for a while that the guy himself was the second generation in the lobster noodle business; well, this place is "First Generation", and he also has "Fourth" and "Sixth" shops, so now I think it's just the order that he opened them.

The guy on the left was very very nonplussed, expecially when I didn't realize he was waiting and tried to go in before him.

Inside, the staff is getting it done, but that's about all. They seemed bored or emotionless or just intently serious, but the fact is that the atmosphere isn't so welcoming. [I know, who cares!] I also mistakenly ordered the spicy version and they were quite concerned about whether I could take it. I'm sure it wasn't spicy at all, but that highlighted the fact that I hadn't ordered the standard bowl, so I changed. Then they had the pleasure of confirming that foreigners a) can't eat spicy food and b) can't admit it.

It's good to start with the standard bowl. If you go back to a place a second time, go ahead and branch out. But for today, the black miso that they specialize in. The Bento review says this is burnt miso and burnt garlic with extra-thick noodles. I can't help wondering if they haven't changed things, because the noodles were demonstrably not extra-thick, while I thought the soup tasted more like an average miso with black sesame. It's certainly not the marvel that Brian is talking about here.  I guess I'd have to say it was decent but meh, although with an interesting lightness of touch that reminded me of the lobster ramen despite being completely different.

The egg wasn't much one way or the other, but the rice sure is black.

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