On our first day in Tokyo, one of my work colleagues proposed going out to lunch as a group, to get ramen. I'm not normally a soup fan, but when I visited Tokyo a few years ago, I did really enjoy the ramen. When I was in Tokyo before, the aspect of the ramen experience that I liked the most was how quirky it was - we had to purchase a ticket from a vending machine first! I assumed we were going somewhere like that.
Instead, we were lead to a totally non-traditional ramen shop. Well, first, it wasn't a ramen shop. It was a music hall, that serves ramen at lunch time. For seating, there were a few counter seats, a few tables, and an area with couches. Since we were a large group, the only place we'd fit was the couches.
The menu was entirely in Japanese, but our hosts explained that there were three choices: chicken, pork, or fish. Since I dislike chicken and pork, this was an easy choice. I'd clearly get the fish. They warned me that it was very traditional, and double checked several times to make sure it was really what I wanted. I was a bit unnerved, but, I really, really don't like chicken or pork, so I went with it. Everyone else in the group, our hosts and all other visitors included, just got the pork one.
The only other option was the size, "normal" or large. Almost everyone else got large, at the encouragement of our hosts. They told us that normal was very small. I still got normal.
|Fish Ramen. ¥730.|
I was very confused when mine arrived, as it was topped with several large pieces of pork. I ordered the fish because I didn't want pork ...
Then it was explained that really the choice of chicken, pork, or fish was referring to the broth, not the toppings. Hmm, ok. I could easily push the fatty, nasty pork aside. My broth was thin and very, very oily. Everyone else had a really frothy, creamy looking broth.
I was also confused because my bowl was giant, and really didn't seem any smaller than anyone else's. But they insisted this was the smaller size. I still don't understand that part.
I was further confused by my noodles, wide noodles, not what I expected for ramen. Everyone else had thinner, more traditional noodles. Apparently I wasn't just picking the broth, but also the noodle style when I ordered the fish one? I didn't like the noodles, they were a bit mushy, and didn't seem any better than any other noodles I've had. Isn't fresh ramen supposed to be about the noodles?
The only other ingredients in my bowl were woody bamboo and an egg. Everyone else has additional toppings like seaweed. The egg however was quite good. I love the eggs in Japan. As you can see, jidori eggs have larger, more intensely yellow yolks, which always seem more custardy, more flavorful.
I really didn't like this meal, and I had a bit of jealousy over the version that everyone else got, but I know I didn't really want pork broth, and I doubt their noodles were any better, just different.