Ramen Journey (Part 1)

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Ramen Journey

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Japan Hour (Synopsis Only):

Ramen Journey (Part 1)

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This week, we travel from Tokyo to Kagoshima in search of delicious and popular ramen. Our goal is to eat 50 bowls of ramen over a span of six days.

Our culinary adventure begins at Shinjuku, Tokyo. Our first stop is Konjiki Hototogisu, located at Hatagaya of Shibuya district. Its soy sauce ramen clinched the top prize in the soy sauce category in a Tokyo ramen competition. The restaurant has also been named in the Michelin Guide Tokyo. The restaurant uses buckwheat noodles for its famous dish. The soup is a blend of tonkotsu broth, Japanese stock and clam stock. The noodles are topped with Italian Porcini mushroom flakes.

After enjoying this award-winning ramen, we drive westwards for 1.5 hours before stopping at Yamanakako, a tourist spot in Yamanashi Prefecture. The next eatery we visit is the Komenya Reel Cafe, situated next to the Teddy Bear World Museum. Its recommended items include vegetable-soy milk-miso ramen and soba with roasted tomato soup. For the ramen, which features thick Chinese noodles, the soup base is made of Yamanashi's local chicken and the hocks of Fujisakura pork. The soup is boiled for two days, after which fish-stock soup is added. Miso and soy milk are added later, together with vegetables. Following this, we drive to Nagoya and go to the Manchinken eatery. We try Nagoya’s hugely popular egg-stew ramen. At the end of the first day, we have eaten nine bowls of ramen.

On the second day, we continue driving westwards, go past Mie and Shiga prefectures and reach Kyoto. There is a district in Kyoto called Ichijoji, which boasts several ramen shops, one of which is the original branch of the famous Tenkaippin restaurant. We go to Kobushi Ramen to taste its pork "bo-ing", featuring dried jerky. The soup base is made of pork hocks and chicken wings, which are thoroughly boiled. Pacific saury is tossed into the soup and then “wing noodles” - split noodles with grooves which soak the soup - are added. From Kyoto, we head to Osaka, where we visit a recommended shop called Bird which sells a truly unique dish - ramen with cotton candy.

Our next destination is Wakayama and we ask the staff at the station about where to eat delicious ramen. We are told to check out Marutoyo, a 30-year-old ramen shop. Its signature dish is Chinese noodles with tonkotsu and soy sauce-flavoured soup. The noodles have potato in it and lots of vegetables are added in the soup. The vegetables are stewed with tonkotsu and chicken. On the second day, we have tried nine bowls of ramen, bringing our total to 18.

The following morning, we go to the ferry dock and take a boat to Tokushima in Shikoku. Then, from Tokushima, we make our way to the Hamando restaurant in Kagawa Prefecture to try its famous Sanuki ramen. Kagawa is in fact famous for its Sanuki udon and there are lots of udon shops all around the town. For Sanuki ramen, the soup has things like chashu pork, boiled egg, Ibuki sardines from Seto Inland Sea and fatty pork back in it. Udon flour is used to make the thin noodles.

After this, we travel on the freeway along Ehime Prefecture to Imabari, which is famous for sea bream. After asking the locals to recommend a good ramen place, we head to Mitsuya Ramen. It serves Kurume ramen and Imabari ramen. The local favourite is the latter; the broth for the clear soup is made with Hakata salt from Seto Inland Sea. The soup has rockfish, turban shell clams and dried sakura sea bream. In three days, we have savoured a total of 24 bowls of ramen. We end the third day by soaking in a relaxing bath at Dogo Hot Springs.

Tips:

1) To experience a truly unique dish, go to the Bird restaurant in Osaka to try ramen with cotton candy
2) Sea bream dishes are a popular choice when visiting Imabari

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