Saturday, January 29, 2011

Hachiya (蜂屋) Ramen Pack & Making Char Siew!!

When I went to Japan, I received a ramen pack from Hachiya (蜂屋), a renowned shoyu ramen store in Asahikawa with over 60 years of history.

As usual, the pack contains only noodles and the soup.

So, its time for me to try my cooking skill again!
I've attempted to make tamago last time, so its time to try the next key ingredient...

Char Siew!!

Starting with some pork belly, I followed a recipe, tying the chunk of pork up, boiled, pan-fried and stewed it.

And, beyond my expectation, it was quite tasty!

Homemade char siew!

The piece of pork belly that I bought was quite small, so it was hard to slice it up.
The char siew didn't came up as a round piece as I would have wanted.

But, it was actually easier than I thought, compared to making the perfect runny tamago.
Will definitely try it again soon, recording the process in more details.

Well, back to the ramen.
With the homemade char siew and some boiled spinach, here's my dinner...


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Rokurinsha (六厘舎) @ Tokyo Ramen Street, Yaesu, Tokyo

A very happy new year to everyone!
May 2011 be a delicious and filling year for all the ramen fans all over the world!

As with every year, I'm having my holiday in Tokyo over the Christmas and New Year holidays.
And what will a ramen walker do? Ramen-eating!

The first ramen adventure in 2011 brings me to Tokyo Ramen Street, located at the underground mall linked to the JR Tokyo station.

It is a labyrinth under the Tokyo station - there is a complex network of underground malls and linkways under the station linking the various buildings and neighbouring subway stations. It took me a while before I found it, near the Yaesu side of the Tokyo station, tucked away in one of the end of the underground mall.

This Tokyo Ramen Street is still not very much a street yet - there are only 4 ramen shops now, compared to other similar concepts in Japan.

My destination today is Rokurinsha (六厘舎), a hugely popular shop which is known for being a pioneer in the tsuke-men (dipped ramen), starting several new trends and styles. At peak hours, the queue could be over an hour!

The queue continues around the corner...

A little bit of background on Rokurinsha. It started in April 2005 first in a residential area in Ozaki of Tokyo. With its signature "super-rich soup and super-thick noodles", it fast gained popularity and fame, winning the best tsuke-men of the year award in 2006 and 2007.

Surprisingly, it was so popular that its 100-people-long queues received complains from the residents in the neighborhood. It tried various ways of crowd management such as altering the queuing method and so on, but with no solutions in sight, the Ozaki store was closed in Aug 2010. This news was even report on the newspaper!

So as of now, while they are looking for a new location for their main outlet, the outlet at Tokyo Ramen Street is its only place you can eat their ramen.

Back to the ramen - I ordered the Ajitama Tsuke-men (dipped ramen with egg, 950 yen), their signature dish.

Spotted this note on the chopsticks stand while I was waiting for the ramen to come (it took a while because the thinker noodles takes longer to cook). A stellar example of Japanese service excellence.

"We have aprons and hair clips that you could use. Please approach our staff if you require it"

Finally my tsuke-men is here after about 5 minutes. It looks good!!

Made from a large amount of chicken, pork and seafood ingredients, this soup is very thick, creamy and tasty, which clings on well on those thick, bouncy and chewy noodles. Slices and cubes of char siew that mingled in dipping soup was tender and melts in your mouth.

Noticed also the powder that floats on the piece of seaweed. You might have seen it in my previous entry about Menya Shinchan or other ramen outlets in Japan, but it is said that Rokurinsha is the first store to have invented it. The powder is the powdered form of bonito flakes. By dissolving the powder into the soup at our own liking, it will add more punch to the soup with the seafood flavor.

Taking a closer look at the noodles too - it looks about 1.5 times that of the usual thick noodles.

And it is not it after you have finished all the noodles.

While I was eating my ramen, the person next to me finished his. Without leave, he called the staff, who added some soup stock to dilute the thick dipping soup. The staff told him to add some yuzu powder as well.

Interesting! It is similar to how the dipped sauce for soba is diluted with soba-yu (water used in boiling the soba) after the meal.
I tried to do the same after my ramen is done. The flavorsome soup is now drinkable until the last drop, and the citrus taste of yuzu made it refreshing.

All in all, it was an excellent bowl of tsuke-men that is worth the wait, especially for its taste.
The location is pretty accessible and easy to find, such that tourist like us can drop by when we are in Tokyo.
My advise would be to avoid the busy hours (I went there at around 3pm) as the queue could be really long.

However, the only gripe that I have is that the dipping soup gets cold when my noodles are about 70% done, because of the repeated dipping of the cooled noodles. Personally I prefer the soup to be hot throughout.

The Tokyo Ramen Street will also be adding on another 4 more outlets of equally famous stores in Apr 2011. Great news for overseas ramen lovers!

View Ramen Walker's Ramen Map in a larger map

Ramen Data - Rokurinsha TOKYO @ Tokyo Ramen Street
Address: B1 Yaesu South Exit, JR Tokyo Station
Types: Tsuke-men
Rating: 9/10
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