destinations

Tokyo Attractions

Akihabara - The otaku freak capital of Japan!
Akihabara
Harajuku - Tokyo Extreme Street Style
Harajuku
Hon Komagome - Old Tokyo Temple Town
HonKomagome
Morishita in Tokyo, home of metropolitan museums, and plenty of temples and old homes
Morishita
Charming old Edo Period district of Nezu, in Tokyo
Nezu
Roppongi and Roppongi Hills
Roppongi
Shibuya Streets
Shibuya
Shinjuku
Shinjuku
Ueno -- Homeless Heart of Tokyo
Ueno

Rest of Japan

Jomon Japan
Jomon Japan
Kyoto, the most beautiful city in Japan
Kyoto
Matsumoto Castle, one of the highlights of central Japan
Matsumoto
Yokohama City -- The City By The Bay
Yokohama

Best of the World

Australia Guide
Australia
Denmark
Denmark

Egypt in the 1990s
Egypt
Iceland, North Atlantic
Iceland

Mumbai City Guide
India

Korea
Korea
Malaysia Travel Guide
Malaysia

Girl Hunting

Russian Girls in Japan -- Even Better than the Japanese Girls!
Russian Girls in Japan





TOKYO DINING GUIDE - ramen
IT IS SAID THAT RAMEN (ラーメン) WAS BROUGHT TO JAPAN BY SOLDIERS RETURNING FROM CHINA AT THE END OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR. It sounds plausible enough... they do serve it up in Chinese-style bowls. Some typically Chinese ingredients often make it into the soup, such as bamboo roots. These are joined, however, by a variety of indigenous Japanese toppings like dried seaweed (pictured above). I suppose you could say that Japan has taken ownership of ramen, and has perfected it to the extent that it really belongs to them... like green tea, or Zen. They have perfected it so much that they actually export it back to China, with seaweed and all that extra stuff included in the broth, marketed as a Japanese dish. In countries like Australia and the USA, ramen is growing in popularity. In Japan itself, there are fanatics (raota) who roam the lengths of the land like ronin, Ramen Walker apps on their phones, hunting for obscure variations. If life had turned out differently, I could have been one of those guys. I could have been a lot of things...

Jeremy does the Omori, at Mochimochimoki Ramen Shop

Ichinoe, in Tokyo's Edogawa Ward, was where I was introduced to ramen, and ate some of my finest bowls, courtesy of my boss and later landlord, Hiroshi Kobayashi. Kobayashi's school (Kidea English Academy) was in the early 00s set on the fourth floor or thereabouts of an apartment block on Kan Nana Dori (Number Seven Ring Road); auspiciously there was a ramen restaurant on the ground floor. There was often a long line to get in. After work on a Saturday afternoon we would drink Asahi Super Dry out of little glass pitchers, and munch on the kim'chi side-dish, waiting for the ramen to appear. The chef would promptly slide it across the counter, noodles steaming, succulent slabs of chashu gleaming... what a great way to end the day. Bite into a gooey egg... If you wanted to spice the soup up a little (or a lot!), drop some of that kim'chi into the bowl. It's your party.

­There are four types of ramen, based on the type of stock used: shio (salty), shoyu (soy), miso and tonkotsu (pork-bone). Niboshi .
Ý–û–Ë600/–¡‘X–Ë650/‚‚¯–Ë750@“™.

‹ãB’}–L‚ç[‚ß‚ñ@ŽR¬‰® In the beginning, ramen was a simple fast food, a working man's meal. In recent years it has become more and more upmarket. These days there are ramen restaurants with Michelin stars.

Ikebukuro, Ogikubo and Ebisu are three areas in Tokyo known for their ramen, according to Wikipedia. I never actually dined in Ogikubo in the year or so I spent working there, but I remembered the many ramen shops set up all alongside Blue Plum Road. Tomato ramen seemed to be a speciality here, which might please some North Americans hungering for this legendary concoction (see this Ramenlicious website for an idea of what I mean.) Of course, when Americans talk about ramen what they usually mean is "instant ramen", and the tomato sauce that Ramenlicious is mourning the demise of is actually a powder. Or it was, since it is gone now. In Ogikubo in the stylish western suburbs of Tokyo, however, tomato ramen is a big hit. If they only dunked a huge quantity of cheese into the mix, I would be a convert. My Ogikubo days are over, unfortunately, and I am heading to Vietnam by way of Australia. Ramen Tei: Asakusa.
Only 290 yen for good ramen. I went there myself with Kenichi Anazawa.

Ishigami is said to be the ramen king. ved at Asakusa station and so our first stop was the Kaminari Mon, or `Thunder Gate` which leads to the Nakamise market and Sensoji temple. Our guide suggested we take a boat along the Sumida River to Hamarikyu gardens, and so our course was set. On the way, however, I noticed, down an alley, a little cafe called Arizona Kitchen, which I happened to know was one of the haunts of Nagai Kafu. I mentioned this and our guide suggested we have lunch there. On the menu was a strange dish of chicken liver, which, it said, Nagai Kafu used to eat when he came here. SiI only felt a minor sense of regret in ordering this. I suppose it`s silly, but it made me feel a little closer to one of my personal literary deities. On the wall of the cafe were extracts from Kafu`s diary. "January the 24th. Clear skies. Cloudy later. Dinner at Arizona Kitchen." That sort of thing."

Mochi Mochi Noki Ramen Shop: Shin-Okubo.
Minowa<:
If you are game, you can always dine with the homeless folk who can be found all over the place. After my short spell in jail in 2007, I began to feel an affinity with those homeless folk. He "was a Japanese novelist, playwright, essayist, and diarist. His works are noted for their depictions of life in early 20th-century Tokyo, especially among geisha, prostitutes, cabaret dancers, and other denizens of the city's lively entertainment districts."

Ramen I ate at some intersection Chinese restaurant in Ichinoe, Edogawa Ward, Tokyo, the very same intersection I was standing upon, when the Great Earthquake of 2011 struck!

"Ironically, the old Yoshiwara district burned down (along with much of the city) in the Meireki fire of 1657; it was rebuilt in the new location, when it was renamed Shin Yoshiwara (New Yoshiwara), the old location being called Moto Yoshiwara (Original Yoshiwara); eventually the "Shin" was dropped, and the new district became known simply as the Yoshiwara.

"The Yoshiwara was home to some 1,750 women in the 1700s, with records of some 3,000 women from all over Japan at one time. The area had over 9,000 women, many of whom suffered from syphilis, in 1893. These women were often sold to the brothels by their parents at the age of about seven to twelve. If the young girl was lucky, she would become an apprentice to a high ranking courtesan. When the girl was old enough and had completed her training, she would become a courtesan herself and work her way up the ranks. The girls often had a contract to the brothel for only about five to ten years, but massive debt often kept them in the brothels their entire life. There were very few ways for a young lady to get out of the brothel due to all of her debt.

"Social classes were not strictly divided in Yoshiwara. A commoner with enough money would be served as an equal to a samurai. Though it was discouraged for a samurai to enter the Yoshiwara area, they often did so anyway. The only requirement on them was that all their weapons had to be left at the town's entrance gate. Also by law, the patrons of the brothels were only allowed to stay for a night and a day at a time.

"Yoshiwara also became a strong commercial area. The fashions in the town changed frequently, creating a great demand for merchants and artisans. Traditionally the prostitutes were supposed to wear only simple blue robes, but this was rarely enforced. The high-ranking ladies often dressed in the highest fashion of the time, with bright colorful silk kimonos and expensive and elaborate hair decorations. Fashion was so important in Yoshiwara that it frequently dictated the fashion trends for the rest of Japan."

You would never guess from the dreary and drab state of Yoshiwara today, that it was once the fashion heart of Japan. It only goes to illustrate, how things change over time...

Arizona Kitchen: 1-34-2 Asakusa, Taito Ward. Phone: 03/3843 4932.

 


ASAKUSA RESTAURANTS AND CAFES

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  • Between 2000 and 2011 I blogged the food on the streets and alleys and high end towers and 5 star restaurants of Tokyo, Japan. Search the archives below...

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Japanese Food and Cooking Blogs

Blue Lotus
Blue Lotus
Copyright Delicious Coma
Delicious Coma Wierd Japan
Pig Out Diary
Pig Out Diary
Ramen Adventures
Ramen Adventures
Tokyo Macrobiotic Vegetarian Restaurant
Hanada Rosso -- Macrobiotic Vegetarian
Hawaiian Restaurant in Tokyo
Ono Loa Hawaiian