Tuesday, January 5, 2010

えん寺 (Enji)

I was about to head back to the States for a couple of weeks for Thanksgiving (now you can see how far behind I am on posting!), and wanted to grab one last bowl before taking off, so I rode my bike over to Enji, located (appropriately enough) in the nearby neighborhood of Kôenji.

Based on the chain poles and chairs outside, it looks like Enji probably gets decent lines at rush hours, but I snuck in at the tail end of lunch and only had to wait a couple of minutes before being seated. Enji is a new shop that has been getting a lot of hype in recent months - ramen critic Ishiyama Hideto named "veggie pottage" the ramen trend of the year for 2009, and Enji is a shop working in that model, making a soup that contains melted down fruits of the earth in addition to your more standard liquified animal and ocean products. It's fair to be skeptical about the trend machine (according to Ishiyama, 2010 will be the year of the "sardine soup pandemic." Whatever.), but if new ideas result in good ramen, then I'll bite.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to try Enji's famous veggie broth brewed from mountain potatoes. Unbeknownst to this noodler, only the tsukemen contains the special thick soup, and the ramen is well, kinda regular. I was bummed to realize that I had schlepped out here then unwittingly ordered the wrong thing, but I still got something pretty good. A very contemporary bowl of smooth and creamy blended pork and fish broths with plenty of suspended fat. The mizuna greens on top were nice and crispy, the bamboo shoots were extra fresh, and the soup was above par, striking that perfect balance of fishy yet mild.

The noodles were pretty basic medium thick and curly, probably sourced from Mikawaya Seimen noodle factory, just like nearly every other up-to-date ramen shop serving fish and pork soup with high end ingredients. The tsukemen come with extra doublewide and dark brown whole wheat-esque noodles, but my dumb ass didn't get to try those. All in all a totally solid slurp. I have to go back to try the veggie pottage tsukemen, but as for the ramen, while it doesn't break any new ground, it's excellently executed and worth your yen.


msc455magic said...

Your blog has always kept me updated with the latest ramen scene in Tokyo. Please keep up the good work!!!


Nate said...

glad you like it! keep on reading, because the ramen is gonna keep on coming. and let me know if you find any great shops!