Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Hakata Ramen Shinsengumi

Just like the best genre films (“The 36th Chamber of Ramen”?) the noodle shops that my friend Tomo and I treasure most are those that specialize! Here the only broth is Kyushu style “tonkotsu ramen”, milky-whitish and rich with the essence of many pork bones. The ramen eater faces important choices: opt for hard noodles which is how the Japanese have it. We also chose medium oil, yes on the pickled ginger and on the green onion. Noodles had commendable rubbery texture, while chashu (pork) was soft and very tasty. The style is different but overall I would pick this over Ramen-ya. An added bonus is the respectable selection of izaka-ya (Japanese bar) style snacks. We ordered the excellent cream croquette, a marvel of panko-breaded soft mash than nearly disintegrates upon a chopstick prod. It comes with the brown, okonomiyaki/takoyaki sauce. Nankotsu karaage (fried chicken cartilage) are definitely not for the middle of the road diner but the adventurous will savour the crunchy-chewy joints which are delicately fried and much more exciting than regular karaage. Last but not least we added the sutamina natto – yep, it means “stamina” which was appropriate seeing as both of us went back to work afterward. Amazingly, natto is mixed with two other sticky foodstuffs, yamaimo/Japanese yam and okra and a generous dab of mustard for a hard-to-eat but delicious combination. A party in one's mouth and everyone's invited.


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