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

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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

誠信 Seishin

This is my second official review of Seishin, my favourite local shop. My first review was for their torikotsu shio ramen. This time I wanted to try the torikotsu shoyu as I hadn’t eaten it for a couple of years. I went on a Sunday for lunch. Despite the shop being only half full, there were about a dozen people waiting outside to get a seat at Tougen next door. They don’t know what they’re missing!

01 Shop

I ordered the torikotsu shoyu ramen, but declined the free extra noodles. It was topped with steamed spinach, a piece of nori, and coarsely shredded onion. The onion gave it a really nice freshness. It also came with one slice each of pork and chicken.

02 Torikotsu Shoyu

The soup is much dark than the torikotsu shio, as you’d expect. It appear quite oily, but doesn’t taste oily at all. It’s got a lot of flavour but isn’t heavy at all. It’s a really well-balanced soup.

04 Soup

As I mentioned earlier, I declined the free omori (extra noodles), which are offered free at lunchtime. The regular portion of noodles, which were thick, wavy and firm, was more than enough.

05 Noodles

They always give you a slice of juicy chicken with torikotsu ramen, but the pork was the highlight of the toppings. They really know how to do the pork at Seishin. It occasionally has some fat, but it’s never tough and usually melts in your mouth.

06 Pork

I really love everything about this shop – the atmosphere, the staff, and, of course, the ramen. I can’t understand why it’s not the first place in the area to fill up, but I don’t mind because it means I can always get in without waiting.

Score: 9/10

Location: About a 12-minute walk from Tsunashima Station, opposite Uniqlo and Round One. Just follow the giant bowling pin.

Address: 神奈川県横浜市港北区樽町2-2-18 (Kanagawa, Yokohama, Kohoku, Tarumachi 2-2-18)

Price: ¥750 – regular; ¥900 – tokusei

Seating: three tables for four, six counter seats

極楽鳥 Gokurakucho

This was probably the eighth time I’ve been to Gokurakucho, and my second time reviewing it. I normally order the shio ramen, but today I wanted to try the shoyu. It was a cold, wet day in early February. There was a short wait, but it was worth it for a hot bowl of ramen on a winter’s day.

01 Shop

The shio ramen is the most popular here, but I ordered the kotteri shoyu (heavy/rich soy sauce) ramen. It came topped with chopped leeks, shungiku (chrysanthemum greens), an egg, two slices each of pork and chicken. The pro is always a bit hit and miss here. They give you a generous portion, but it’s sometimes a little tough. The chicken is always good — soft, juicy and smoky. And shungiku is really nice with ramen.

02 Torikotsu Shoyu

The soup was nice. The broth is from torikotsu (chicken bone) with a shoyu base. It had a nice brown colour with lots of flavour. There was a fair bit of oil on the surface, but I don’t mind that on a cold day.

03 Soup

In addition to the generous amount of meat it’s topped with, this ramen also comes with a huge portion of noodles. They were thick, firm and chewy — typical Yokohama-style noodles. I was absolutely stuffed by the time I slurped the last one.

04 Noodles

The specialty at Gokurakucho is shio ramen, and I’d have to say I recommend it over the shoyu. The shoyu ramen is really good, but the shio is just so amazing. But it’s nice to try this one just for some variety if you go to Gokurakucho as often as I do.

Score: 8/10

Location: Along the Tsunashima-Kawasaki and Tsunashima-Tsurumi bus routes, about a 20-minute walk from Tsunashima Station.

Address: 神奈川県横浜市港北区樽町3丁目4-12

Price: From 720 yen

Seating: Two tables for four, five counter seats

肉そば総本山 神保町 けいすけ Niku Soba Sohonzan Jimbocho Keisuke

The first shop I’ve decided to review for this blog is one that I visited for the first time recently. My wife and I were off to see the Carp play the Giants at Tokyo Dome on Sunday afternoon, so I had a look on Ramen Database for good shops in the area. I came across this place which, due to the length of the name, I’ll simply refer to as ‘Keisuke’. It was quite high in the rankings for the Jimbocho area, and I had a craving for dark shoyu ramen. We decided to stop in here before the game.

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The shop is located on a busy street about a 4 minute walk from Jimbocho Station. There are 22 seats (all counter) inside, and it has a nice, bright atmosphere. We arrived just before noon, and there were only about 4-5 customers. By the time we left, there were people waiting for our seats.

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I ordered the standard shoyu ramen (醤油ラーメン). There is an omori (大盛り) size for an extra 100 yen, but I had to save room for beer at the baseball game, so I went with the regular size. The soup was strong, dark and full of flavour. It was topped with 6-7 pieces of thinly sliced pork (チャーシュー), which tasted fine but was just a bit chewy. There was also a generous helping of leek (長ネギ), bamboo shoots (メンマ), bean sprouts, a teaspoon of grated ginger and paprika. It was the first time I’ve had either grated ginger or paprika with my ramen, and they were both really good. The ginger went really well with the soup, and the paprika added just a bit of spice to it. The noodles were thick, wavy and chewy. I prefer thin Hakata-style noodles, but I’ve come to like thicker noodles since moving to Kanto where they are more common.

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Overall, it was a good bowl of ramen and I would definitely recommend Keisuke if you’re in the Jimbocho area.

Score: 7.5/10

Location: Jimbocho Station, 4-minute walk from exit A5 on Hakusan-dori

Address: 〒101-0051 東京都千代田区神田神保町1-54

Price: 750-950 yen

Seating: Counter – 22 seats

Hours: Open everyday, 11am-11pm