Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Kyushu Jangara Ramen
Kyushu Jangara is a chain of ramen shops throughout Tokyo. At the end of December 2009 while our friend, Will, was staying with us, one night we decided to hit up the Kyushu Jangara shop in Harajuku. Apparently the shop takes up two floors in the Harajuku location, but the stores are not connected inside. Therefore there are ramen chefs on the first floor and the second floor, creating soups specifically for the floor they're working on. We climbed up to the second floor and were greeted by a small line, maybe three groups of people waiting to be seating. From what I've read, one should be prepared to wait in line before being seated due to the popularity of this shop. While we waited, we were given copies of the menu to figure out what we wanted to order. The menus were in Japanese and English as well as two other languages. About 10 minutes later we were seated, a round of beers and three bowls of ramen were ordered and the beers were promptly delivered to our table.
As the name suggests, this ramen finds its roots in Kyushu, thus it is Hakata style (straight thin noodles instead of the wavy regular thickness.) I ordered a "Kyushu Jangara". It's ramen with tonkotsu broth that comes with everything! Most ramen comes with one or two slices of chashu (barbequed pork), menma (bamboo shoots), negi (spring onion), and maybe a soft boiled egg. A "Kyushu Jangara" bowl of ramen comes with all that as well as two additional large lengths of fatty pork, a scoop of mentaiko (spiced pollock roe), kikurage, and a generous sprinkling of sesame seeds.
A "Kyushu Jangara"
Will ordered the same as I but without the mentaiko. Unfortunately, he was served mentaiko nonetheless. The waiter realized the mistake when serving us our ramen and told Will that his bowl would be on the house, so good for Will, free ramen! The offending mentaiko was scooped out of Will's bowl and delivered to Micah's karabon ramen. Although the karabon ramen is listed as the spicy ramen at the shop, Micah found its spiciness to be tolerable, nothing to write home about. The karabon ramen comes with everything my Kyushu Jangara ramen came with.
The spicy karabon ramen!
Although the ramen is served in shallower bowls than most other shops stock, the bowls themselves are wider, so you are not being served any less ramen. The three of us went to town on our bowls and conversation hit a lull at this point. What I found most noticeable about the toppings were the two lengths of fatty pork. The fat seemed to melt in your mouth and the pork itself was very tender and had a great flavor. This pork is not for the faint of heart, I do not think I can really emphasize exactly how fatty it is! The flavor is great, but two lengths seemed to be one too many for this ramen loving girl! Kyushu Jangara was also the first time I've had mentaiko in ramen. It adds an interesting spicy kick but its flavor is not for everyone and strikes me more of an acquired taste. A tasty bowl of ramen, the tonkotsu broth does not seem to be the showcase but rather the mellowness that binds all the flavors together.
We let the ramen settle in our bellies as we finished off our beer. The steady stream of customers was drying up as the evening wore on so we felt no rush to leave immediately. When we did leave, we had to explain to the man working the register that Will's ramen was free and eventually our waiter came up to confirm this. We settled our tab, our hunger satisfied and made our way back to Harajuku Station for the train ride home.
1-13-21 Jingu-mae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Mon-Thu 10:45am-2:00am; Fri 10:45am-3:30am; Sat 10:00am-3:30am; Sun/Holidays 10:00am-2:00am
Click here for map