Spare me some ribs…

Day 270:

めんそーれ!That’s Okinawan for ‘welcome.’ I’ve probably told you that I live near Okinawa Town several times now and you probably remember Syuri Seimen from my visit last year…or not.

I’m not sure why I don’t go here more often. The Souki Suba is actually quite good.

Souki, the mouthwatering Okinawan spare rib shown below, is tender, juicy, and well-marinated.

The handmade Okinawan noodles aren’t exactly what you’d find in a ramen, but then again Okinawan soba ain’t exactly ramen. I should probably go here more often since it’s so close. Wait, on second thought…nah.

Time for a watermelon popsicle.

After work, Shuga and I walked over to Ichiryu to pay our respects. Due to some unforeseen circumstances, they will be closing their doors tomorrow…forever.

Yeah, we’ll miss hanging out and enjoying a few laughs after work, but Kawagoe-san (middle) is off to pursue some more exciting endeavors.

Like trying to perfect his homemade curry. “Excuse me, can I please get a spoon?”

“Thanks! But only one will do.”

Good luck Kawagoe-san!! I will call upon you when you’re ready to make the big move…


Day 269:

Usually when I sit down to write my daily posts, a title pops into my head and I roll with it. But for some reason I couldn’t think of a good one to describe this rather boring day so lets just roll with that. I started off the day enjoying this moyashi soba from nearby 代一元本店. The thickness of the wok’d soup was just what I was in the mood for.

On my way to work, I stopped by Goodwood to grab this jerk chicken burger and say wassup to Kenta.

And then it was time for work. A few people came into Bassanova for the first time after reading my blog. It seems like almost a daily occurrence now, which is awesome. Thanks for all the support guys!

On another note, Komuro-san has relinquished her position of manager with the hopes of gradually diminishing her hours and following her dream in the world of fashion. I am proud of her for making this decision and wish her the best of luck. So for now Shuga becomes the new manager, but we all know who really calls the shots. 😉 haha. Shuga and I are like brothers and we have vowed to protect Bassanova to the fullest. After all, this is our favorite ramen shop and we are both living our dream.

Uncovering history…

Day 268:

I always wondered what was beneath the tape in our tsukesoba photo that hangs on the wall. I heard before that the tsukesoba used to be a collabo between Jiraigen and another ramen shop, but I never knew the name of that other ramen shop. Until now!

Ahh…Anaya. So there’s the truth. Bassanova’s tsukesoba was created from a collaboration between Basaraka, Jiraigen, and Anaya.

And what do you know, Anaya (嗟哉) still exists to this day in Hatsudai so Shuga and I decided to go check it out.

Immediately, I notice a connection. The lady in red is wearing a Jiraigen Black Friday cap. If only I could find out the exact details of the collabo.

Anaya is another one of those shops that changes once the sun goes down. Anaya by day and Pork Noodle Naito by night.

Anaya makes its own noodles. And the whole reason behind the collabo must have been so Bassanova could use their noodles for the tsukesoba. Once again, I wish I could find out more details.

I ordered the regular tsukemen, which is a blend of tonkotsu and fish, similar to how we do it at Bassanova. Although Anaya does use more tonkotsu to make the broth thicker.

Shuga ordered the wadashi tsukemen, which contains no tonkotsu. Funny, this tsukemen tastes exactly like Jiraigen’s. I think Jiraigen still uses the same noodles too.

The noodles aren’t bad and I could sort of imagine how they would taste with our tsukesoba.

But all in all, I think Mikawaya’s noodles are better. They have a better chew.

The chashu-don (left) and the kakuni-don (right) weren’t very impressive either. Anyhow, I’m glad to have uncovered a bit of history about Bassanova. Next mission: Get the details!!

It’s hard to imagine, but I haven’t had a drop of alcohol enter my bloodstream for the past nine days. Yes, crazy! Well now that my body is fully recovered, it’s time to make up for it! haha.

There’s nothing like a relaxing night with free beer…

Hangin’ with gramps…

Day 267:

This is my third time hanging out with gramps at my secret ramen-ya. Yeah, I’ve started to call him gramps because he seems to treat me like the grandson he never had and plus he feels like the gramps I’ve never had. He’s one cool old dude.

I ordered the gyoza and was surprised to see that he wraps each one upon being ordered.

And that explains why they taste so fresh.

Although I was craving the shoyu ramen, I decided to go with the gomoku soba. I was curious to see his version of it.

And that’s when gramps brought me some cold tofu on the house.

Did you hear? Gramps is letting me work here on my days off beginning 8/3! He said he’ll teach me everything on the menu! And since this is not just a ramen shop, I’ll be able to learn how to cook other things like curry, stir-fry, etc. I feel so fortunate.

Thanks gramps!

Menya Kissou can kiss my….

Day 266:

I get a lot of emails that begin something like this: “Dear Keizo, I will be traveling to Japan for the first time and would really like to visit Menya Kissou after reading yours and Exile Kiss’ review. Can you please tell me how to get there from so-and-so station? Thanks!” A couple days ago I got an email from Bryan, an avid reader who is visiting Tokyo, asking if I would like to join him in trying Kissou on this hot summer day. It’s been two years since my first visit and I had no plans for lunch so we were off to the most overrated ramen shop in Tokyo.

I initially planned on writing this post with specific directions on how to get to Kissou just so I could reply to those emails with this link instead of writing directions each time, BUT I changed my mind. It’s not worth it. Kissou is highly overrated and out of the way that you’re probably better off just going to Hayashi or Fuunji or Tetsu or Harumichi or countless other gyokai-tonkotsu shops throughout the city. They’re just as good, if not better.

Anyway, let me tell you what happened. As I walked in the door I was told that I couldn’t take any pictures. “Seriously? Is this a new policy?,” I thought. Oh well, no pictures, fine. It’s not like I’ve been asked to not take pictures before. Then while the three of us were waiting for our ramen, enjoying a casual conversation about Tokyo, we were told to shutup. Okay fine, we can be quiet.

Then as I was slurping through the first third of my ramen, I noticed a strand of hair over an inch long floating next to my chashu. I normally wouldn’t care, but this time I decided to say something. After showing the chef and his wife the hair, they took my bowl back and he whispered something like “I bet it’s his own” into his wife’s ear and gave me a dirty look. Sure, I don’t have a hair that long on my entire body. Well except for…yeah whatever.

Don’t get me wrong, the ramen and tsukemen at Kissou are good, but I won’t be going back to this overrated ramen shop anytime soon, if ever. So the next time you send an email for directions, don’t hate me if I try to steer you away. From now on, I will be calling it Menya Kissyo–as in kiss yo ***. Or maybe I should call it Kissmy.

The seven colors…

Day 265:

Today, I was up for a challenge. It was another hot summer day, I was up early, and I wanted to go to Menya Shichisai (麺や 七彩). There was only one problem. There is no direct train or bus to Toritsukasei and the fastest way to get there would be by bicycle, which would take at least 25 min one way. ‘Hmm, it’s really hot out. Maybe I shouldn’t go,’ I thought. Eff it, I’ve been wanted to try Shichisai for the longest time. Let’s hit the road!

So yeah, that was a long ride, especially in the heat. This ramen better be good!

Shichisai has been getting a lot of hype lately. They’re practically in every ramen publication and on tv shows just about every month. I’ll say this once: Shichisai is no joke. That 参った plaque on the wall is just one indication. They actually swept the board by getting an approval from every single judge.

And they even put on a different mask during the evening hours. Shichisai by day and Tokyo Miso Ramen Edoama (TOKYO味噌らーめん 江戸甘) by night. I guess I’ll have to come back for that.

Shichisai hails from Kitakata, the land of awesome noodles. If you remember from my recent trip to Nagoya, it was Shichisai’s noodles that Yamamoto-san replicated at his shop. The picture below shows the staff member squeezing and smashing the noodles to make them wavy. But I’ll leave it to Nate to break it down for ya.

Okay here I go. Shoyu Chashu Ramen.

The first few sips were not very impressive. But this is why you should never leave a bowl unfinished. With every sip I took, the shoyu ramen kept getting better and better and better. The fresh, organic flavors kept multiplying from the tip of my tongue down to the back of my throat.

The noodles are inarguably fantastic. They make me want to move to Kitakata someday…

Okay…I now have something very serious to share. Something that may make you re-prioritize your ramen wish list. Shichisai has by far THE BEST CHASHU that I have ever tasted in a bowl of ramen…EVER! The chashu ramen comes with two types, sirloin and belly. Both are amazingly tender and virtually perfect.

From now on, if anyone asks me that question I am most often asked (“Aside from Bassanova, which ramen shop would you recommend?”), I will definitely answer Menya Shichisai without a doubt in my mind.

I have to say this again: Shichisai is no joke!


Day 264:

10:53 AM me: moca! so u want to go to the museum?
 Moca モカ: wahh
10:54 AM it doesnt matter
  its just really hot outside
  me: yesh
10:55 AM Moca モカ: no ramen!
  tell me an area
  and i will find us healthy food
10:56 AM my specialty
  me: lets go ride a roller coaster
 Moca モカ: where/.?

11:02 AM 
me: tokyo dome
Moca モカ: ok
  ooo lets met in iidabashi
  i like it there
  for lunch
  and then we can go to the dome
11:11 AM me: ok
  if the dome doesn’t look worth it we can find something else in the area
  and go eat ramen
11:12 AM Moca モカ: NOOOOOOOO ramen

On a hot Tokyo summer day, leave it to moca to steer me away from ramen and find me a healthy washoku 和食 meal instead.  This meal was definitely healthy and it tasted much better than those vegan places she’s taken me to in the past. (Not that those vegan places were bad or anything.) Anyway, I had enough ooey-gooey yamakake stickiness. Let’s head to the dome!!

As you saw from our chat above, I wanted to ride a roller coaster. But hanging out in the dome city turned out to be an amusement in itself.

What amused me most was the line of anime-looking girls waiting to take a picture in the latest purikura photo booths. I can’t believe they get all dressed up just to take a sticker picture.

According to the mob of young girls surrounding the dome, KAT-TUN was having a concert tonight. Hey wait, where’d moca go??


After rescuing moca from Doraemon’s belly, we decided to momentarily beat the heat with a green tea soft serve.

Alright, enough stalling. It’s time for some thunder!

The ride was short, but it was just what I needed. Although I’m not sure moca felt the same way. haha.

Okay, let’s get out of this heat!

On my way to work I stopped by Fukuju for their Gomoku Ramen (sorry moca, had to do it).

Sweeter than the regular ramen, it wasn’t what I thought it would be. But it was cheap. Not like that really matters.

Work was the same. I love Bassanova and I hope I can work there for at least another year, but I need a new challenge to take my mind elsewhere. Hmm, I have an idea…

Back to normal…

Day 263:

For the most part anyway. I followed up with my doctor today and he said I can go back to eating ramen, sparingly. Woohoo! But I was still craving that curry from Kusamura. It was good, but I think I was craving it so bad that it didn’t live up to my expectations.

Back at work, it was a busy Saturday and I managed to get through it without any ill effects. Thanks go out to my coworkers for having my back! 助かりました!

Please excuse the mess…

A day to rest…

Day 262:

I was told not to come into work today so I could rest. And rest I did. Thank you all for your concerns about my health. Honestly, it’s not the ramen that’s causing it. If anything, the ramen soothes it. The cause is actually my job and all the stuff that goes on behind the scenes. Don’t worry. I’ll handle it and be back to normal in no time. I promise.

Anyway, I rode my bike to Kusamura for lunch and although I didn’t intend on ordering ramen, it just slipped out of my mouth. Seriously, I wanted to eat the katsu curry bad…real bad. Oh well.

After a long, long nap, moca called to say she needed help. Her friends were wanting good ramen and she requested that I be their guide. If it were anyone else I would have said no, but since moca always has a way of cheering me up, I agreed to meet them in Koenji, where I took everyone to eat ramen at Tabushi.

Not only do I like Tabushi for their ramen, I like watching how the two dudes run the kitchen. Their setup is impressive.

The regular ramen is a tonkotsu-fish blend that is similar to Mochi Mochi No Ki but better!

Everyone else got the shoyu-tonkotsu ramen, which is the same as this minus the fish. I forgot to take a pic.

I wasn’t really craving gyoza, but moca was so she ordered some. And exactly what I thought would happen happened. She ate two pieces and made me eat the rest. haha. Thanks moca!

Afterwards, I went straight home to go back to sleep. Goodnight…

The highs and lows…

Day 261:

As soon as I got home from work, I took a shower then passed out. But for some reason, as tired as I was, I could only manage to get 6 hours of sleep. So with the effects of heartburn still lingering, I went against my doctor’s orders and visited my secret ramen-ya again. “What is that for?”, I asked. “The curry”, the old man said.

This time I decided to go with the Tanmen, which is basically a salt-based ramen with vegetables and pork. Watching the old man make it was something of a gift. I couldn’t tell if he was annoyed with how I kept looking over the counter or if he just enjoyed my curiosity. I assumed the former so I stopped being nosy and moved my eyes to the tv. The peppery tanmen was great. But in the end, it’s just tanmen.

As I slurped down the tanmen using my pro-ramen-slurping speed, the old man brought me a sample of his curry. Perhaps he did enjoy my curiosity, I thought. I thanked the old man and complimented him on his food and he briefly explained how he makes his soup. Awesome, I thought. Then…as I got up to pay, the old man turns to me and says “I’ll teach you. Just ask me and I’ll teach you. I’ll even let you come behind the counter and cook.” “Seriously??”, I replied in amazement. “Seriously!”, he confirmed. And after a few more “seriously’s”, I rode home the happiest man on earth.

I celebrated with shave ice in a cup.

Before work, I decided to head back to the burger-joint frisco in Shimokitazawa. I had heard that they will be closing on the 26th and wanted to get one last burger before they did.

This is a great burger. I hope the owner can find a new location soon. As I was leaving, the owner remembered me and shook my hand as he called me brother. haha. Thanks brother!

Now this is where we start to go downhill. The medication I’m taking is surprisingly strong for Japanese medicine. And being as dizzy as I was, I probably shouldn’t have been wielding a knife. Yup, you can probably guess where this is going. In short, my night ended prematurely as I had to get my finger stitched up at the hospital. Thank you sis for taking me and thanks for the wonderful dinner!

Slicing my finger may actually have been a blessing in disguise. Only time will tell, but I feel confident about it… Right sis?