Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Yakumo ramen, Ikejiri (支那そば 八雲)



 OK, that's out of the way. You wouldn't believe how hard it is to find a video of a sweet potato truck playing the traditional song, without a white guy on the front babbling for 2 minutes about he's exposing the soul of Japan. Even that video kinda sucks, so you knead to know what joke I'm making. And even then.

Love was in the air, with late-blooming pink sakooras falling in the water along the Meguro right where it curves across Mountainhand Road, just south of the Big Bridge of Pond-Butt.

I maintain that Japanese place and family names are positively poetic. I once showed a Chinese friend, and couldn't get over the idea that someone was named 'duck river'. MOVING ON.

Yakumo is totally famous. It was Tabelog's 'Tokyo Best Ramen' two years running. That's an interesting but not overly important stat. If it was #1 on ramendb I'd be really impressed (it's #43 today. Just for the record, the place across the street, that you can see while you're waiting, is #13.) because that's where the cool kids post all their reviews. The cool kids know that the second floor of this building is where the noodles lurk. 
There's a lot of lurking going on, because even at 1 PM on a Wednesday (REMEMBER THEY'RE CLOSED ON TUESDAYS, DUMBASS) there are people waiting. Birdz and I got on the joint at an auspicious time, we were only the 4th and 5th people waiting outside; by the time we got to move to the 10 seats inside the restaurant and wait some more, there were people going down the stairs and out of sight.
Then we waited at the counter. Which gave us a chance to check out some of the ingredients of the forthcoming bowls. Everything here has a unique spin, and this pork is no exception. For starters, you could be forgiven for thinking it looks like chicken breast squeezed into brick form. (I forgive you.) It's coated with a Chinese-y tasting rub, and they cut it pretty thick, by hand, to order.

One of the real differentiators here is the wontons. For a start, they exist, and ramen places that do wontons aren't that common unless they're some kinda old-style Chinese crap. For a finish, they come in shrimp and pork, and the pork ones are in-frickin-credible. Worth the trip, I'd say. I liked the shrimp a lot and all, but I would ignore the advice of every other blogger that's ever visited this place and just get the pork wontons, 6 of them, in your soup.

Said bloggers also make a big deal about how cool it is to order off-menu to get your 'mixed' wontons, half and half, but that's the double-size button at the top of the ticket machine, so I think the Yakumos got wise to that game.

They're pretty wise, honestly.  That's why I forewent the other clever advice of ordering 'mixed' soup. They have a 'white' soup (pictured) and a 'black' soup, but black seems to be just "It includes a ladle of soy sauce".
There's nothing wrong here. (Aside from the mere presence of menma, which I'll just put aside.) Again, this is the 'shiro' soup; there's plenty of salt even without the shoyu, don't worry yourself, so why not just taste their carefully-constructed broth? Again, the clever bloggers who say you've gotta order off-menu and get 'mix'...they're almost imperceptibly too clever for me.

Now that I think about it, this is awfully Chinese in aspect. The wontons and the Chinese-spiced pork (again, not chicken)... You know, the pork (not chicken) was maybe the weakest thing in the bowl (again, pretend the menma don't exist). Can you just get a huge bowl of wontons? Pork wontons?

That's almost worth going back to find out. ALMOST.

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