Sunday, May 22, 2011

Inoue ramen, Tsukiji (ラーメン 井上)

Recognize this place? That's right, it's the old-fashioned standing ramen in the restaurant row on the outside of Tsukiji Market that always has the long lines. Over the course of our visits to the market, someone has gotten increasingly vocal about trying it...and realistically, I don't need a lot of convincing, do I?

Do you think it's weird to eat ramen at Tsukiji? I wouldn't worry about it. The sushi restaurants are really there for the tourists; the workers don't want to look at fish all day and then eat sushi, you know?

I'd like to assume this is Inoue san, the man who makes the magic happen. This place has been popular forever, and while he may have been pleasant once upon a time, he's just focused on getting the food out now. All the staff are that way.

The customers are all focused on getting the food down - you just pay, get your noodles, and walk a few paces to the high tables set up next to the street. Street food is rare in Japan these days, so I wonder if it's also nostalgic for old people to stand outside and eat.

Especially when the noodles are this nostalgic. This has a serious "hasn't changed for 50 years" aesthetic, with the clear Tokyo-style soup, chewy, curly noodles, standard boiled pork, and vegetable toppings. The only hint of originality is the pea shoots included in the topping, but who needs originality? When the recipe is right, you just keep making it.

This would be a nice place to start a ramen quest if you were on vacation in Tokyo (I mean, assuming you didn't want to go a few stations east to Bigakuya, which is the same style but, as the name implies, is clearly the result of careful study and dedicated attempts to achieve perfection.). I see from the comments on Tabelog that Japanese people think this is weak and a little boring (one comment implied this was so weak you could still appreciate the delicate flavors of sushi afterward). So sad that they've forgotten their simple, humble roots, isn't it?

By the way, we did do some shopping at the market. You can't quite tell what this is from the picture, so I'll just tell you. The pasta is done with a cream sauce that includes half a box of Hokkaido sea urchin. The disc on top is a first for me (meaning I've never seen it in a restaurant - I'm the only person weird enough to try it?). Other than the sea urchin, we bought 2 pounds of fish liver at the market (from the most famous area, Yamaguchi), made pate out of it, and that's a disc of seared fish liver pate on top. The whole time, I was thinking "This one's for Uncle N!"

The word you're looking for here is 'zeitaku', I think.

1 comment:

  1. So how did it taste? Do not be surprised when similar dishes start appearing in famous Italian restaurants in Tokyo.