銀座篝 Ginza Kagari

After not having ramen for two months, I had my second bowl in as many days on Monday. I had heard about a shop in Ginza called Ginza Kagari. I noticed that there was a branch shop in Kawasaki’s Lazona shopping mall, so I decided to check it out.

According to Ramen Database, there were “many” seats, so I suspected this shop was in a food court. I was right. It’s next to two other well-known shops, Ebi Soba Ichiban and Menya Shouno. The whole place was noisy and crowded – not the kind of atmosphere to enjoy a bowl of ramen in!

07 Shop

I ordered a regular sized tori niboshi soba. It was topped with one slice each of pork and beef, menma, nori, daikon sprouts, green onions, and something I’d never seen in ramen,  baby corn. The toppings were unique and delicious. There were the highlight of this ramen.

01 Ramen02 Ramen close

This ramen had a chicken and fish broth with a shoyu base. Chicken dominated the flavour of the soup, with the fish barely being evident until I had finished and noticed a slight fishy aftertaste. It also had quite a light texture and was a little bland for my liking. It wasn’t bad, it just didn’t have any impact on me.

03 Soup

The portion of noodles was very generous. They were thin, square, and just a bit firm. You can also order omori (extra noodles). I imagine that would be a huge portion.

06 Noodles

As I mentioned above, the toppings were the best thing about this ramen. The baby corn was unique, and the daikon sprouts gave it a slight bitterness, which was interesting. But both the pork and the beef were excellent. The pork just melted in my mouth, and the beef was nice and tender. Combined with the chicken and fish broth, the animal kingdom was represented well in this bowl of ramen.

04 Chashu05 Beef

I had heard and read about Ginza Kagari, so my expectations were high. Unfortunately, this bowl didn’t live up to those expectations. It wasn’t bad, but the soup was a bit plain so it’s not worth going out of your way for. The main shop in Ginza might be better.

After finishing, we noticed a sign saying this shop would close permanently on August 28th. I guess there was too much competition with their neighbours.

Score: 7/10

Location: Lazona Kawasaki in the “Dining Selection” food court

Address: 川崎市幸区堀川町72-1 ラゾーナ川崎プラザ1Fダイニングセレクション内 (Kawasaki, Saiwai-ku, Horikawa-cho 72-1 Lazona Kawasaki Plaza 1F Dining Selection)

Seating: Plenty of seating available

Price: ¥850 – nami/regular; ¥950 – omori/large

中村屋 Nakamura-ya

It’s been a hot summer here in Yokohama, and I hadn’t had a bowl of ramen in two months until today.

When I moved back to Japan six years ago, after two years in Canada, I settled in Kanagawa prefecture. One of the first ramen shops I visited was Nakamura-ya in Ebina. I had seen it on a list of the top ramen shops in Kanagawa for the year 2010. I wasn’t very impressed at the time, so I didn’t go back. Until today.

09 Entrance

I arrived at 11:30am on a Sunday, and the shop wasn’t busy at all. It’s a very nice, clean shop. It’s small, but it feels bigger due to the high ceilings. Two of the chefs wore t-shirts that read “No Ramen, No Life’. I must say that I completely agree.

08 Shop inside

Nakamura-ya is known for it’s shio ramen, but I decided to try the shoyu ramen. It was topped with one piece of chashu, steamed spinach, half a soft-boiled egg, bamboo shoots, and finely chopped green onions. The presentation was perfect.

02 Ramen

03 Ramen close

The soup had a soy sauce (shoyu) base with a slightly fishy broth. It was quite thin with a somewhat smoky flavour, most likely from the chashu. There wasn’t a huge amount of soup, which probably made it easier to find room for the toppings and noodles.

04 Soup

The noodles were very thin with average firmness, but the volume was quite large. It’s always nice to have a large portion of noodles. Luckily, I was able to get in 18km of walking afterwards to help burn off the carbs!

05 Noodles

One of the highlights of this ramen was the chashu (roasted pork). It came with just one thick piece, but it had such a nice smoky flavour, and it wasn’t chewy like I remembered it six years ago.

06 Chashu

Although I’m not a big fan of eggs in general, I do occasionally like a soft-boiled egg with shoyu ramen, especially when the white takes on the colour of the broth.

07 Egg

Nakamura-ya was much better than I remembered. Maybe they’ve changed a few things (like the chashu), or perhaps my tastes have changed. It’s probably a bit of both. The shoyu ramen here is flavourful, but not heavy at all. The generous portion of noodles, excellent chashu, and the lovely soup all make this shop worth checking out if you’re in the Ebina area.

01 Ramen

Score: 8/10

Location: Less than 10 minutes from the Odakyu side of Ebina Station, next to Vina Walk.

Address: 神奈川県海老名市中央2-5-41 (Kanagawa, Ebina, Chuo 2-5-41)

Seating: table – 17; counter – 5

Price: Shoyu/Shio ramen – ¥780; Nakamura-ya ramen – ¥980

真武咲弥 Shinbusakiya

It’s been a couple of months since I last went to a ramen shop. I was in Shibuya today and, although the temperature was a muggy 28C, I decided to find a good place for a hot bowl of noodles. There are so many shops to choose from in Shibuya. I had a couple of gyokai ramen places on my wish list, but both were full and neither had space for a baby car (I was with my wife and daughter). So we ended up at Shinbusakiya, a miso ramen joint in Dogenzaka. We arrived at 12:45pm and the place was nearly empty, but it filled up within about 10 minutes of our arrival.
01 Shop
The shop has a nice atmosphere. The building is old, but it’s been fixed up nicely. It is a chain with eight locations, two of which operate under a different name and specialize in tsukemen.
03 Inside
I ordered aburi miso ramen (broiled miso ramen). They also had spicy and special miso ramen, but since this was my first visit here, I got the most basic option. Toppings included green onions, bean sprouts, minced pork, one slice of chashu, a half teaspoon of grated ginger, and even a few slices of white onion. It also had two thick pieces of delicious menma. There were so many toppings on this ramen.

04 Ramen

06 Ramen

The soup was very nice. It was a bit oily and very hot. It had a medium thickness with a very smoky flavour and some traces of pepper.
07 Soup
The noodles were typical Sapporo style – thick and wavy. While I do prefer the thin, straight Hakata style noodles, miso ramen just wouldn’t be the same without the thick and wavy variety. Look at how the soup just clings to these noodles. They were very nice.
09 Noodles
I just love thick pieces of menma (fermented bamboo shoots).
08 Menma
Miso ramen is the perfect winter food, and I would like to come here again on a chilly day in January. Even though today was a hot day, this ramen really hit the spot.
05 Ramen
Score: 8/10
Location: Doganzaka, about a five-minute walk from Shibuya Station (Hachiko Exit).
Seating: First floor – ten counter, four table seats; Second floor – four counter, ten table seats.
Price: ¥820 (Aburi miso ramen)

名島亭 Najima-tei

For my second bowl of ramen on this visit to the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum, I went to Najima-tei for some Hakata ramen. This is a Fukuoka-based shop that serves the local specialty, tonkotsu ramen.

02 Looking In

I had already had one small bowl of spicy red miso ramen at Ryushanhai, so I just ordered a small bowl of tonkotsu here. It was a fairly typical bowl of Hakata ramen, topped with a large portion of green onions, some kikurage (a kind of mushroom), and two pieces of pork.

03 Ramen

The soup was a cloudy white. It had a very strong pork flavour with mild traces of garlic. It was quite oily and very hot. This soup was full of flavour and tasted very good.

04 Soup

The noodles were classic Hakata style – thin and straight. I didn’t know I could adjust the firmness of the noodles. If I had known, I would have definitely asked for firm noodles (かため). Still, they were fine. Hakata noodles are the best in my opinion.

07 Noodles

This mini bowl of ramen came with two thin slices of pork. It was lean and fairly tender.

06 Pork

This was a no-frills bowl of Hakata ramen. The soup was very nice, and the noodles were excellent. You really can’t go wrong with Hakata-style ramen.

01 Sign

Score: 7.5/10

Location: On the bottom level of the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum.

Address: 横浜市港北区新横浜2-14-21 新横浜ラーメン博物館B2F (Yokohama-shi, Kohoku-ku, Shin-Yokohama 2-14-21)

Price: Regular – ¥750; Mini – ¥570

Seating: 25 seats, both counter and table

 

龍上海 Ryushanhai

Ryushanhai is a Yamagata-based chain of ramen shops, with six locations in Yamagata and one in Yokohama at the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum. I made the short trip to the Ramen Museum for the first time in about four years and visited Ryushanhai and one other shop, Najima-tei.

03 Shop Front

Ryushanhai specialises in spicy miso ramen. At the ramen museum, you have the option of ordering a regular sized bowl for ¥850 or a mini version for ¥550. I wanted to try at least one other shop before leaving, so I ordered the mini version.

04 Ramen

Toppings included menma, green onions, kamaboko (a kind of steamed fish cake common in miso ramen), pork, and that distinctive scoop of spicy red miso.

05 Soup

The soup has a pale colour before you mix in the miso, and it has a fairly mild flavour. But after mixing the miso, it becomes quite spicy. Garlic is also a strong presence in the taste.

06 Noodles

The thick, wavy noodles were very tasty but a little soft.

07 Pork

I ordered a mini and it came with just one slice of pork. I’m not sure if the regular comes with two, but I would imagine it does. It was fairly fatty pork but very soft and juicy.

02 Museum

This was my first trip to the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum in a very long time. I love the ramen there, but I feel like such a tourist when I go (despite the fact that I live only a few kilometres away). I had a good time there. There was entertainment, beer, and, most importantly, lots of ramen to choose from, all in a mid-Showa Period setting! The mini-sized bowl is perfect if you want to try a couple of different shops while you’re at the museum. I do recommend Ryushanhai, but there are so many good options there, it’s hard to choose one.

Score: 8/10

Location: On the bottom level of the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum, right at the bottom of the stairs.

Address: 神奈川県横浜市港北区新横浜2-14-21 新横浜ラーメン博物館B2F (Yokohama-shi, Kohoku-ku, Shin-Yokohama2-14-21)

Price: Regular – ¥850; Mini – ¥550

Seating: 22 seats, eight of which are counter seats

 

三ツ矢堂製麺 Mitsuyado Sei-men

Mitsuyado Sei-men is a large chain with locations all over Japan, and even one in Manila. I popped into the main shop in Naka-Meguro in August for some for their gyokai tonkotsu ramen. I got there late in the afternoon, and the shop was quite busy given the time of day. The atmosphere is good –  wooden decor and jazz playing over the speakers. There is outdoor seating available, although I can’t imagine sitting outside on a 32 degree day eating a piping hot bowl if ramen.

01 Shop

They have quite an extensive menu, including tsukemen, ramen, and a variety appetizers. Tsukemen seems to be the most popular item on the menu, but I was here for the ramen.

02 Gyokai Tonkotsu Ramen

I ordered a bowl of gyokai tonkotsu ramen. I came with pork, green onions, a tiny piece of nori, menma, and kamaboko (steamed fish paste – it’s white and pink). I love kamaboko in my ramen!

03 Soup

The soup had a nice, fishy flavour. It was thick and not oily. Just look at that lovely brown colour. It was the highlight of this ramen.

04 Noodles

There wasn’t a huge portion of noodles, but they were excellent – straight and chewy.

05 Pork

There was just one piece of pork, but it was so tender it fell apart when I attempted to pick it up with my chopsticks. It was delicious.

This is a very good shop. The quality is high, but the portion is a bit small considering the price. Still, it’s worth checking out if you’re in Naka-Meguro, but I’d recommend nearby Emoto Masahiro.

Score: 8.5/10

Location: Just outside the south exit of Naka-Meguro Station

Address: 東京都目黒区上目黒3-3-9 (Tokyo, Meguro-ku Kamimeguro 3-3-9)

Price: from ¥780

Seating: 44 seats, including outdoor seating

ゴル麺 横浜本店 Goru-Men

Goru-Men – a portmanteau of Golden Ramen – is a small chain with five locations in Yokohama, Fujisawa, and Machida. I went to the main shop in Yokohama, about a 10-minute walk from Yokohama Station. It was a wet Sunday afternoon in July. It was busy, but we got in without waiting. It’s a nice, clean shop that feels like it’s part of a bigger chain than it actually is.

01 Shop

I ordered from the machine just inside the entrance and got a ticket with the details of my order –  gorumen with firm noodles, regular oil-content and richness, with a little minced garlic. The style of the soup is shoyu-tonkotsu.

02 Ticket

It came topped with kikurage (wood ear mushroom), which is always nice in ramen, a generous portion of bean sprouts and cabbage, and one piece of pork.

03 Ramen

The soup was nice. It was a little heavy and had a very strong pork flavour. I left the richness at regular. I can’t imagine how strong it would’ve been if I’d ordered “koi” (extra richness). The soup actually reminded me a bit of iekei ramen.

04 Soup

This ramen came with a heaping portion of thick, chewy noodles. They were very good.

05 Noodles

It also had one slice of soft, juicy pork. It was a bit fatty, but was cooked just right.

06 Pork

This was a good bowl of ramen. There’s not a lot to separate it from other shops. Nearby Yoshimura-ya is a better option, but you’ll have to queue up. If you don’t want to wait there, Goru-men isn’t a bad back-up plan.

07 Counter

Score: 7.5/10

Location: About a 10-minute walk from the west exit of Yokohama Station.

Address: 神奈川県横浜市西区南幸2-18-1 (Kanagawa, Yokohama, Nishi-ku, Minamisaiwai 2-18-1)

Price: ¥830 – Goru-men; ¥750 – Regular ramen

Seating: 11 counter seats; 5 two-seater tables