藤原ラーメン Fujiwara Ramen

When people think of local Hiroshima dishes, they usually think of okonomiyaki, oysters or momijimanju. But one of my favourite local dishes is Hiroshima-style tsukemen. When I was in Hiroshima in October, I went to one of the more popular tsukemen shops in Naka-ku, Fujiwara Ramen. I arrived around 2pm on a Friday afternoon. It wasn’t busy at all apart from few people — probably workers on lunch break — who came and went while I was there. I’ve been by here on weekends and there’s often a line-up.

07 Shop

Hiroshima-style tsukemen differs from the Tokyo version in that it is served cold, and the soup is spicy. At Fujiwara you are able to choose how spicy you want your soup. I didn’t feel like challenging myself, so I opted for level 1 (of 20).

01 Spice Chart

Disposable bibs are also made available to protect your shirt from splashing if you accidentally drop your noodles in the soup. I ended up with one red spot on my bib, so I guess it was wise to wear it.

02 Bib

The noodles came topped with two slices of delicious pork, thin strips of cucumber, boiled cabbage and a generous helping of leeks.

03 Tsukemen

The noodles were thin and firm. They tasted great. I should’ve order a larger size.

04 Noodles

The soup was red in colour and looked very spicy, but it only had a slight tingle to it. I might go for level 2 next time I visit.

06 Dipped Noodles

I’d been here once or twice before, but I feel it was better this time. Great noodles, really good pork, the soup was just right. I’ll definitely go back next time I’m in Hiroshima, but I’ll order level 2 soup.

Score: 8.5/10

Location: About a 5-minute walk from the A-bomb Dome, between an oyster restaurant and an okonomiyaki shop.

Address: 広島市中区大手町1-7-20

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一蘭横浜西口 Ichiran Yokohama Nishiguchi

I first went to Ichiran in Fukuoka back in 2004 and fell in love with the place. I was living in Hiroshima back then, and there wasn’t an Ichiran there at the time. So the only place I could eat Ichiran was in Fukuoka, the home of tonkotsu ramen (also known as Hakata-style). When I moved to Kanagawa in 2010, I was happy to find Ichiran shops located all over Tokyo. I probably ate at Ichiran in either Shinjuku or Shibuya about once a month for the better part of a year. But I think I overdid it and had to take a break. I went back in April in Shinjuku, and it was fantastic. I then visited the shop in Yokohama, near the west exit of the station, in late September. My wife and I had walked 10km from our apartment in pretty hot weather, so we felt like we deserved a treat.

16 Outside

01 Queue

We arrived around 1:30. As usual, there was a queue, but we only had to wait about 10 minutes.

02 Ordering card

At Ichiran, you are given an order card so you can customize your ramen. We filled these out while we waited. I chose a rich flavour, one clove of garlic, green onions, pork, a standard amount of togarashi (red pepper) powder, and firm noodles.

15 Seating area

Inside the seating is in individual booths. And orders are served under a curtain in front of your seat, so there is very little interaction with the staff.

03 Ramen 01

The ramen came topped with green onions, two thin slices of pork and togarashi (red pepper) powder.

06 Noodles 02

Hakata-style noodle are the best -thin, straight, and usually firm. I ordered mine firm, but you can also get them extra firm. I might try that next time.

08 Soup 02

The soup has a nice brownish-red appearance, probably from the togarashi. I ordered mine koi (rich) and kotteri (thick/heavy?). It was just a bit spicy, as I had ordered it.

10 Kaidama 02

11 Kaidama 03

After the long walk, I felt I’d earned kaedama (an extra portion of noodles).

12 Kaidama 04

In the kaedama noodles go!

14 Booth

My booth. I didn’t leave a drop of soup. It was fantastic. I highly recommend a trip to Ichiran for anyone who loves ramen, or just wants a unique dining experience.

Score: 9/10

Location: About 5 minutes on foot from Yokohama Station’s west exit, next to Don Quixote.

Address: 神奈川県横浜市西区南幸2-15-4

Price: From ¥790 (¥980 with kaedama)

Seating: Counter only