Sunday, May 3, 2009

口の組み合わせ@BASANOVA (Meeting of the Mouths, pt. 1 - BASANOVA)

Last month, Keizo, author of the totally righteous ramen blog Go Ramen, made a completely epic ramen trip to Japan. Travelling from Asahikawa in Hokkaido to Kagoshima in Kyushu while stopping for bowls at more than 20 of Japan's most reknowned ramen towns is no small feat! After triumphantly returning to Tokyo, he somehow still had the stomach to grab a few more bowls with myself and Brian of the rockin' Ramen Adventures blog. It was an epic meeting of ramenistas. We started off at BASANOVA near the Inokashira line Shin-Daita station...


BASANOVA had been recommended to Keizo by no less than Ivan Orkin of Ivan Ramen, famous for becoming one of the first Americans to find success as a ramen cook in Tokyo. His shop, which has been written up widely in Japanese and American media, commands long lines, and is supposed to be as delicious as its master is friendly. I haven't been to Ivan Ramen (yet!), but if his recommendation of BASANOVA is any indication, the dude has good taste.



I'm not sure what, if anything, the ramen at BASANOVA has to do with the legacy of Joao Gilberto and Baden Powell, but it is one bomb ass shop in an unlikely corner of suburban Tokyo. We headed in and got down to ordering.


Keizo had posted a review of BASANOVA's green curry ramen, which resulted in me having to wipe the drool off my keyboard. As soon as Keizo had suggested BASANOVA, I knew that's what I wanted, and I had been looking forward to it all afternoon. Keizo got the same, and Brian got the shop's basic offering, the "tondaku wadasi soba", a rich blend of tonkotsu (pork marrow) soup and fish broth.


We pretty much had the place to ourselves, so we sat down at the stainless steel counter and got down to chatting it up and chowing down. But not before snapping tons of pictures - Keizo and Brian put my photo skills to shame...


When the bowls came up, it was hard to see much visual trace of green curry in the ramen...but take a spoon-sized sip and you'll realize how deceiving looks can be. I had eaten a mediocre bowl of "Thai-style" ramen at Thai Ramen Tinun a few months back, but this was a whole different animal. While Tinun serves up what amounts to a watered down bowl of Tom Yum soup with noodles in it, BASANOVA's bowl is emphatically ramen and nothing else. The soup base is a creamy but not overly pungent tonkotsu, with just a bit of mild fish broth mixed in. Stir in a bit of what I assume is fresh green curry paste, and you've got something sweet, spicy, and smooth all at once.


The noodles were equally outstanding, thick, white, curly, and a bit flat, perfect for getting the curry up in your mouth for a hearty bowl. Top it off with some burnt and fresh shallots, some very fresh bamboo, and you good to go. The soft-boiled egg was extremely well cooked, with that gooey-as-all-get-out yolk spilling into the broth. Yum, man!


Brian's bowl was a whole different creation, with very thin, straight Hakata-style noodles in a thinner, fishier broth. BASANOVA definitely takes the time and trouble to make each type of ramen special, right down to the kind of chashu (pork slices) used - the "wadashi" fish soup comes with a fat piece of pork freshly grilled in aburi style - you can still see the charcoal lines on it!

After polishing off our bowls we took a walk up the block to grab some beers and swap stories about best bowls and other ramen memories. Brian and I were stoked to hear all about Keizo's trip, and much mutual schooling was done over numerous beers. Beers so numerous, in fact, that they left us with a hankering for more...dare I say it? Ramen...

2 comments:

Keizo said...

As I sit in my apt in LA with a beer in one hand and mouse in the other with the clock approaching midnight, I can't help but ask myself "what the F*** am I doing here?" Great post! I miss it already!!

Brian said...

Well, let's hit up Ivan soon then...