Free meals!

Day 117:

The best thing about working at two different ramen-ya’s are the free meals. For lunch I get to eat at Ivan Ramen. (Pictured below is the new special edition Tonkotsu Ramen.)

And for dinner I get to eat at Bassanova. All for free! This is the life!
Well it is and it isn’t. It’s been a rough couple weeks without a day off so after work tonight I decided to meet up with a few of my closest friends to unwind a bit.
Thanks guys! That was exactly what I needed.

Another 18 hours…

Day 116:

It was another long day of working both Ivan Ramen and Bassanova. I woke up with a sore throat so I was a bit nervous on how my body would hold up, but it held up just fine. Fine enough to savor this beer and meat bowl in the end.

Some of you may have noticed that my posts have been delayed. Sorry about that. Aside from not having an internet connection at my new place (will get it hooked up once I can afford it), I haven’t had much free time to do anything other than sleep and eat. I really feel bad about not responding to all your comments too. If you can wait just a little longer, I promise to respond to all of them. As always, thanks for reading my measly blog.

The shop of truth…

Day 115:

One of my beautiful nieces turned five today. Happy Birthday!!! Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend her birthday party because I was working. ごめんね。I promise I’ll make it up to you.
With a light rain falling, it was time to seek out the truth. Makotoya (makoto meaning truth), near Hachimanyama Station, is a fairly popular shop that I’ve always wanted to try since it’s on my way to work.
I ordered the special ramen with 3 toppings and fat noodles. It’s a tonkotsu-shoyu blend that is definitely porky but contained a good balance.
The fat noodles were chewy and easy to slurp. But the real star of this ramen was…
…the kakuni! Tender, moist, and full of flavor, I’ve never seen it done better in ramen before today. The egg and the chashu weren’t bad either.
Makotoya also gives out stamp cards so you can get free stuff after a number of visits. After 45 bowls you can get a free t-shirt. I don’t think I’ll ever be wearing that t-shirt.

Lots to dream about…

Day 114:

And even more to become reality. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately and I’m finally starting to see where this may all lead. I could be wrong, but there’s only one way to find out–to live the way I want to live. It may take time, but I’ll get there.

Stay tuned…

A date with a burger…

Day 113:

The other day I was craving a burger. And when I mentioned that to a friend, she offered to take me to one of her favorite places in Shimo-Kitazawa, Village Vanguard.

I ordered the pepper bacon burger. It was good, but I don’t remember much of it because my mind was wandering elsewhere if you know what I mean. Yeah sorry, you probably don’t know what I mean.
My friend got the special barbecue burger. Afterwards, we took a long stroll through Shimo on this unusually warm day. It was nice.
Then it was off to work another night at Bassanova. Today I learned how to make the tonkotsu soup. It was enlightening! I thought about taking pictures and sharing, but it’s way too gruesome. So instead of bloody pork bones, here is what I ate for dinner.
I always wanted to try the wadashi ramen with the flat green curry noodles, but never had the guts to ask in the past. So today, I finally got to do so. I think I like it better this way.

A ray of hope…

Day 112:

I woke up this morning, or should I say this afternoon, with a new appreciation for life…and a mean hangover. From what I can remember, I went out to eat with the Bassanova boss and crew and didn’t get home until 8:30 in the morning. It was a very memorable night. One that I know I’ll never ever forget. Someday I’ll share the details, but for now I’ll just share the cure…hangover cure, that is.

On my way to register my new address at the Suginami Ward Office, I passed by Hope Ken on Kannana Dori and instantly knew that this was what I needed. Around since 1938, Hope Ken’s chuuka soba is a classic.

I ordered mine with extra chashu. Smooth and creamy, the soup reminded me of something you would find in Fukui.
The curly noodles also worked their magic. And 10 minutes later I was cured.
Cured enough to begin another long night at Bassanova. Here’s an exclusive behind-the-scenes shot of the kitchen. This will be my second home for 2 nights out every week.
And this is the secret tonkotsu soup that fuels the famous green curry.
For tonight’s free meal, I learned how to make this niku-mori tsukesoba. I can’t believe I actually ate a Bassanova ramen that I ate myself. Crazy!
Mmm…damn good!
This is how every night should end…

A separate slurp…

Day 111:

I slept as much as I could and woke up as late as possible. I didn’t have much time to grab a meal before work, so I just hopped into the soba-ya near Daitabashi station and ordered the tuna bowl combo with udon. Cheap and satisfying.

While I was at work, I received a phone call from Bassanova asking me to stop by later tonight. Apparently the big boss of Bassanova, who lives in Fukuoka, was in town and wanted to meet me. Needless to say, I complied and was in for a long night filled with talk of destiny and hope…

Protein and carbs…

Day 110:

After only 4 hours of sleep, I was back to working another 9 at Ivan Ramen. And 12 cups of coffee later, I finally started to wake up. I made it through the day without any problems, but by the end of the night I could barely keep my eyes open. After work, some family friends picked me up and took me out to dinner at Bakery Restaurant Kobeya. I’m not gonna lie, I’d rather have gone straight home to bed. But these friends came all the way from Shizuoka to see me so I sucked it up and tried my best to stay alert.

Kobeya is known for their freshly baked breads. And with every meal, you can have as much bread as you want. I tried to eat every single kind.
My friends basically forced me to order the steak because they all thought that I eat too much ramen and could use some protein. Hmm, I wonder why they would think that?
This was the first steak I’ve eaten since moving to Japan. It was okay, but it makes me want to eat the Hawaiian Ribeye from Houston’s.
When I finally got home, I actually had enough energy to put together my new bed that has been sitting in boxes for the past few days. Then I drank a beer and passed out.

Part time lover…

Day 109:

So I started working at Bassanova on my days and nights off of Ivan Ramen. I wasn’t sure how to tell you about it, but I sort of hinted that last Wednesday was “sort of” my day off. As it turned out, I moved during the day and worked my first day at Bassanova that night. And this was my second night. I worked a total of 18 hours today, but I’m not gonna complain about it. I can’t even begin to tell you how good this feels. You’re probably getting sick of me saying this, but this dream just keeps getting better.

So far I’ve been given the duty of grilling all the chashu for the orders that come in. There will be more to share about Bassanova in upcoming posts, but for now I’ll just show you what we get to eat at the end of our shifts. Yup, you guessed it. Whatever we want!
And as much as we want!
Of course I had to go with the green curry ramen with two grilled pieces of meat and an egg. The above pics are of what my coworkers ate.
By the way, beginning at the end of this month, Bassanova will be open for lunch too!
More to come…

Bloody ramen…

Day 108:

I know it’s not fair to judge a tsukemen shop on their ramen, but if they’re gonna have it on the menu shouldn’t it at least be decent? I’ve heard the tsukemen is good at Tsukemen Onya, but I opted to go with the ramen since it was so damn cold outside.

Probably a big mistake. This had to be one of the worst that I’ve eaten in Tokyo thus far. The soup just tasted like…(the title of this post).
Please excuse me for this next description, but the kakuni tasted like how a wet dog smells.
The noodles weren’t too bad. I’m sure they would taste a lot better with the tsukemen though.

I really hate writing about bad ramen. I sometimes would rather not write anything at all. But these are my day-to-day experiences and it would hurt more not to share them with you.