Saturday, May 14, 2016

Aoshima Ramen, Akihabara (青島食堂 秋葉原店)

Saturday lunch with the kids. More precisely, 'Saturday lunch where we take turns desperately trying to entertain the kids while our spouse eats ramen'.

As usual I was naive. I thought if you got to a 97+-rated shop by 11:30, you'd be kinda safe. What did I think 'safe' meant? Because they don't have a lot of seats, and no tables. And a line. What the heck do we do now?
In keeping with my 'I'm not giving up on the foodz, dammit, just cuz I have kidz' philosophy, I waited in line while someone changed diapers and played in the nearby park. Then we negotiated with the staff that we wanted our two bowls in succession, occupying one seat - I wait in line and eat, then run out and get someone while her bowl is being made. Phew!

Phew indeed! All the stress plus the generally humid and sweaty environment had me all stressed and sweaty. It was a relief to get to the counter and have some water.

Let me take this opportunity to point out: two shops in Niigata, extremely famous, and one branch right here in lil' ol' Tokyo. If I ever get out to Niigata to see You while he's stationed there, I bet he'll want to go to Aoshima. I'll enjoy telling him I've already been.
Here's an excellent view of the cookings. Just a monster vat where they made the makings - boiling the noodles in the soup.
The most fascinating thing today was a new one on me. At some point while I was waiting for my bowl and my family was waiting outside, the staff judged that the cooking soup was too noodled up, and they dumped it. As is...see the axle under this pot? The whole thing is geared and winched and powered so that you can crank it up and all the soup pours on the floor and down the drain. Then they scrub the cauldron and refill it with fresh soup from the pot cooking behind the staffer here. It sounds simple, but due to the size it's very impressive.
The amount of pork going on is very impressive too. This stuff was a highlight for me. I'd get chashumen if I knew now what I didn't know then, and fortunately for you, you now know what I know now but didn't know then.
Enough rumination.

You can't tell how big and scaldingly hot this is. And that's helped not at all by the presence of a wife and two kids outside.

The soup is a highlight here, although there's enough of it that you'll never make it through without getting bored. I read in other posts that it includes a lot of ginger for medicinal reasons. Somehow I forgot that.
The noodles were very good too, firm and then softening. Flavorful. Coated in soup. Maybe it's too strong to say 'coated', because the soup is too clear and not fatty enough to do a lot of coating like a fatty, fatty place.

Reminds me, I didn't have an Hakata ramen on this trip. That's pretty sad. But hey, almost all the ramen I ate was super-high-ranked, and there wasn't anything disappointing in the lot. There's so much pressure when you have limited time to eat, you hate to missfire and go somewhere mediocre. And with the advent of the rating sites, there's really no reason to misfire, unless you get so bored of excellence that you want some mediocrity to remind you why you're alive.

I just want to be free. 

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