Sunday marked the last day of Tokyo Ramen Show, an annual gathering of ramen from around Japan.
Being bad ramen aficionados, we were unaware of the show until Thursday when a Japanese coworker and student told me about it! However, this gave us plenty of time to organize a small group to go Saturday evening! Micah organized for a group of about six of us to meet up at Komazawa Daigaku station on the Tokyu Den Entoshi line, less than 10 minutes from Shibuya.
Welcome to Tokyo Ramen Show!
We arrived in the evening around 7pm, giving us not much time to scout the booths and decide where to eat. The show stops selling tickets at 7:30 and last order is 8pm, so we weren't allowed a leisurely look around. At the ticket vending tent, you can buy one ticket for 750 yen. Each subsequent ticket is also 750 yen. One ticket will get you one bowl of ramen. While one ticket was enough for me, several group members opted for two tickets so they got to sample twice as much ramen goodness. Our group split up to get our respective ramen and we planned to meet back up at our table once we got our ramen. After a quick run through I decided on the Toyama Black Ramen. I was interested in this ramen after hearing about it for the first time while vacationing in Toyama prefecture in August. I got to try a little bit of the Toyama black at a kaitenzushi restaurant, where it was pleasant enough. I decided though for a real taste of Toyama Black Ramen, I needed to try it at Tokyo Ramen Show where the best versions of ramen were available for sampling.
Toyama Black Ramen
The Toyama Black Ramen was really interesting! Its soup is a thick shoyu (soy sauce) broth which makes it quite a salty ramen! I rarely eat shoyu ramen as it's not one of my favorites but in an attempt to break out of comfort zones, I made myself refrain from miso or tonkotsu based ramen. Sampling a new soup was a real treat though I don't think this soup is for everyone. It completely lacks the fatty globules that cover your tongue that you get in tonkotsu, miso and shio (salt) ramen. The taste is sharper than most other soups as well. The chashu (pork slices) were thick and hearty, allowing a good deal of chewing. The rough texture works well with the sharp salty taste of the soup. The chashu seemed like a perfect side on a cold winter's day. The eggs were cooked perfectly, the yolk was still runny while the albumen wasn't overcooked, avoiding that unpleasant rubbery texture. Overall, I was extremely satisfied with the ramen and happy with my choice.
Taishoken tonkotsu ramen
Micah chose the tonkotsu ramen from Taishoken. Taishoken is based in Ikebukuro, Tokyo and is best known for creating tsukemen. Micah, however, was unaware of this when he chose the ramen. As typical with tsukemen shops that serve ramen, the noodles were slightly thicker and the broth stronger than what you find with most ramen. The broth and noodles were both delicious though after eating my Toyama Black Ramen, the strength of the fat and pork was almost overwhelming. Micah said that it was easier to eat than most ramen from tsukemen-based shops. He also noted the strong presence of garlic in the soup. The chashu was also a little dry though still tasty. Micah generally is not the biggest fan of ramen from tsukemen shops, however the flavor of the broth leads me to think that Taishoken's tsukemen should be pretty good.
Nomming on our ramen
No matter what, good ramen on a cold night is always welcome! It's a little difficult to see in this image but my noodles are quite darker than Micah's. This is because of the black broth staining the noodles to a darker shade. Kinda wild looking up close!
Ume's hakata ramen
A friend got hakata ramen. I tried a sip of the broth and it was a much stronger pork taste than I'm used to! There was almost no trace of fish in the broth, it almost tasted like pork gravy in soupier form! The noodles were also a little curlier than most hakata ramen. An interesting soup!
The ramen booths at the end of the night
Overall, a good time was had and tasty ramen was eaten at Tokyo Ramen Show 2010! I'm definitely looking forward to Tokyo Ramen Show 2011!