Saturday, January 30, 2010

ようこそ、ニューヨークタイムズ紙の読者たち! (Welcome New York Times Readers!)

A big hello to everyone who's found this blog through the Frugal Traveler Matt Gross' recent Tokyo ramen rundown in the New York Times! And for those regular readers who have no idea what I'm talking about, the excellent article can be found here: One Noodle at a Time in Tokyo. Unfortunately, I was out of town when Matt was here researching the article, but my good buddies Brian over at Ramen Adventures and Keizo at Go Ramen did a bang up job making sure he got the most superb slurps possible while touring Tokyo. The world is starting to realize that ramen is so much more than just "noodles in soup", and it's great to see none other than The Gray Lady get her pages splattered with noodle grease.


Like so many of us, I came to know ramen via the instant stuff at the supermarket, but when I first visited Japan as an exchange student I fell in love with ramen all over again. Fast forward a few years and I'm now a graduate student at Columbia writing a dissertation on modern Japanese literature. Before I came to Tokyo this time around, a friend dared me to eat at all the ramen shops that lined the street leading to the library where I do my research. I took up the challenge and began this blog as Waseda Ramen, cataloging my attempts to eat at the 100 or so shops in my neighborhood. The scope expanded, it became a downright obsession, and now I have *almost* as many ramen-related books on my shelf as Japanese literary anthologies. But if my adviser is reading this, don't worry, dissertation chapter two is underway!



Matt's article does a great job discussing the noodles that criss-cross the streets of Tokyo, but the best part of living in the largest megalopolis on Earth is that there's always a new shop to discover! By some estimates, a new ramen shop opens every single day somewhere in metropolitan Tokyo, and my fellow ramen bloggers and I always have our noses out, our mouths open, and our ears perked to listen for the sound of slurping. I don't have the picture-taking prowess of Ramen Adventures, nor can I give an insider perspective like Go Ramen, but with Ramenate! I like to serve up a lot of background, shop history, funny personal stories, ramen-related cultural commentary and criticism along with the noodles.


Enough chit-chat, eh? I thought to celebrate the occasion I'd do a quick rundown of some of my all-time favorite shops and old posts that give some perspectives on the truly amazing depth and breadth of "noodles in soup!" You already know the shops in the article are good, so here are a few more favorites:


For the meanest bowl of miso (classical division): Sapporo Junren



For the meanest bowl of miso (new wave division): Kururi



For the best bowl of porky tonkotsu eaten in a red-light district: Shinjuku Hitotsubo



For a battle with the most infamous bowl in town: Ramen Jiro



For the fatty fat fattiest bowl out of town: Tsubame-Sanjo Ramen



For enough habaneros to make you see stars: Yagura-tei



For a spicy red bowl fit for Genghis Khan: Moko Tanmen Nakamoto



For ramen without a speck of soup in sight: Bubka



For ramen eaten in the glow of late night neon: Nagi Golden Gai



For ramen that will take you on a time slip: Milk Hall Sakaeya



For ramen that helps you get your veggies: Heibon




For a brief history of ramen in Japan: The Yokohama Raumen Museum




For an archaeological expedition to the origin of the noodle: Ramen on the Silk Road



For an account of what it's like to spend one day on the other side of the counter: The Great Tsukemen Festival


I always love hearing about new noodle finds, so post comments and tell me about some of your favorite bowls in Japan, the US, or anywhere in the world! And if you're in town drop me a line to say hi - I may not always be able to make it out (I do have that dissertation to write...) but maybe we can grab a bowl sometime. If you'd like to contact me directly, my email is nshockey at gmail dot com . There are more bowls of ramen than there are soup stains on my clothes...and that's saying something, so don't stop slurping!

24 comments:

Edward said...

I have been following Brian's Gajinbash and Ramenadventure websites and enjoy his unique perspective on many things. This is my first visit to your website. Hope that I will come back many times.

I am a New Yorker and a big fan of Japanese food. Few years ago, there are only few Ramen shops in NYC-I only count
the ones that truly specialized in nothing but Ramen. Now, due to popularity, many more has been opened in the past couple of years.

With respect to your post on Korean Ramen, I would like to share my perspective as "a" Korean's view.

1) Koreans generally do not highly regard about Ramen since they only see their garbage version of instant Ramen like Shin Ramen.

2) Koreans eat and cook Ramen because it is cheap and easy to cook.

3) Koreans have other noodle dishes comparable to Ramen: Kal GookSu and Jang GookSu. Like Ramen, these two noodle dishes have own unique toppings and different style of broth by the preparers-my mom has her own version unique to her family. There is also famous "Naenug Myun", which is a cold buckwheat noodle dish.

Nate said...

@Edward - glad you found the site! indeed, new york has seen a big boost in shops in the last couple of years, not the least of which are the crazy lines at Ippudo.

as for Korea - I wish I had a chance to try Kal Gooksu and Jang Gooksu while over there! I did have some Neng Myun, which has always been one of my favorites. i'm guessing that besides being cheap and easy, the other reason people in Korea love shin ramen is because it's delicious! i did notice a bunch of newly opened "Japanese style" ramen shops in Seoul, and my friend says its even more popular there than in New York, which is saying something...

Dan said...

WE KNEW YOU WHEN. BARIKOTE 4 LYFE

edjusted said...

Congrats on the article!

vrone y co. said...

what are the best ramen places in nyc?
I like Minca in the east village...

Lizzy Possible said...

Awesome blog - followed the link from the NYT article. Thanks for the info and congrats on the article.

Julius said...

Nate, like many others I found your site via the NYT's excellent article. I want to thank you for the "introduction" article, the pictures are so damn enticing it is making me really hungry for ramen at 9 am on Sunday!

I am likely to be heading out to Tokyo (Fuchinobe) late this year for work, and will definitely use your page as a guide!

Thanks again!

Alice Laurel Driver said...

I just discovered real ramen on a foodie marathon with my brother in New York. I'd love to come eat ramen with you! I have a blog about nomadic wanderings and food as well (ramen included). I'll be finishing my Ph.D. in Mexico next year, so I'm excited about the potential for more food writing.

Peter J. Tonellato, Ph.D. said...

I just arrived in Yokohama- please help me! I need Raman ,

ptone@uwm.edu

thanks

Kelsey said...

I did reach your blog from the New York Times, but I have enjoyed what I have read so far. Therefore I will return again!

perridactyl said...

Hello! I found your blog via NYTimes and I must follow your posts now.
I used to live in Japan and this gives me a taste of "home."
Bye for now~

Kevcham said...

Does any place in Tokyo serve vegetarian (no meat, no seafood) ramen?

photomatte said...

I have just discovered this blog and was glad someone is writing ramen up as more than just a no-money-in-the-bank foodstuff:) I lived in Tokyo from 1997-2000, and have been back every year since, and I love ramen! I remember taking the Shinkansen from Tokyo Eki all the way up to Hokkaido (the northern island), and there was a 5 minute layover along the way where everyone rushed off the train and slurped up hot ramen waiting for them on the platform. The trains are nearly always on time in Japan (earthquakes and suicides notwithstanding) and the proprietor of a JR (Japan Rail) platform ramen shop can count on having a full house at a very specific time. On this particular trip, in late December, there was snow swirling around the train as I stepped off and the ramen shop, literally located directly on the platform, was enmeshed in steam. I could hear, more than see, dozens of men like myself who had rushed off the train with exact change, and were trying to slurp down an entire bowl before the train began moving once again. I was able to inhale my bowl of piping hot tempura-ramen with 20 seconds to spare; then it was on to Hokkaido and the hot springs hotel in Hakodate. Mmmm, I miss that day.

Tomoko said...

Hello, I just found your blog and have really enjoyed reading it! I am a Tokyoite, and ramen has always been my favorite food! Thanks for the great blog. I will be following your ramen reports from now on.

tintin said...

I too found your blog via the Times. Have had a love of Korean food since the army but the Japanese ramen shops in NYC are amazing. Great resource you have here. Glad I found it.

Graneledone said...

I just found your blog through the NYT article and I love noodles in soup! I'm so to find others who do too! I'll be checking back here from now on!

Mike said...

Found your article on the NYTimes and I love the blog.

Keep up the good work!

tA-nU-kI said...

こんにちは。はじめまして。ニューヨークタイムズの記事を読んで、訪問しました。私は、アメリカ在住4年の日本人です。私自身も、アメリカ人の夫も、Nateさんのブログを拝見して、今晩は、ラーメンにすることに決めたので、味噌ラーメンのスープ&麺を家で作ることにしました。定番ですが、餃子も。Nateさんは、ラーメン屋さん歩きだけでなく、ご自分でも作られるのですか?

I guess you can read Japanese so I am leaving a comment in Japanese. Great pictures! Your blog made me think of my country Japan and its various kinds of noodle! Thanks!

CPhai said...

I am such a big fan, I read the article in NY Times and was so happy to see it!
Now craving some ramen...

Nate said...

Wow everyone! Thanks so much for taking the time to read my blog and for all the love! It's always good to know that there are others out there who can get so much pleasure out of a (not so) simple bowl of noodles.

@Dan - it's true brotha.

@Edjusted - thanks! i love your blog too!

@vrone - i like minca pretty well, i think rairaiken has the most "classic" ramen shop atmosphere, and of course ippudo has the best soup...if you can stand the line.

@Lizzy - thanks so much! keep on reading for a lot more ramen. i've had four bowls just since the article came out!

@Julius - any time is a good time for ramen, no? hopefully i'll eventually get maps and addresses up so people can actually find the shops i'm talking about...

@Alice - post your blog link! if theres one thing that rivals my love for ramen it's mexican food...

@peter - take a gander through the blog and see what strikes your fancy, then follow www.ramentokyo.com 's guide to the supleks ramen database to find the shop location. or you could just start off at the Ramen Museum in Shinyokohama.

@kelsey - definitely come back, glad you enjoy.

@perridactyl - yep, it's gonna be hard to leave ramen behind once i set out for US shores again. maybe some new good shops will open up in the states?

@kevcham - truly vegetarian ramen in a japanese ramen shop doesnt really exist to my knowledge. very sadly. though i eat seafood, i actually eat no meat whatsoever...except for ramen soup. any pieces of pork you see in photos get quickly distributed out to friends. if anyone does know of a ramen shop that uses only vegetable and seaweed broth, let the world know immediately!

@photomatte - now THAT is what ramen is all about. the total experience! tempura ramen...are you sure it wasnt buckwheat soba?

@Tomoko - i'd love for you to share some of your own favorite ramen spots in Tokyo!

@tintin - be sure and check out the other ramen blogs I have linked, like www.goramen.com and www.ramenadventures.com for even more bowls and perspectives.

@Graneledone - yep keep checking back, the bowl backlog is building up quick!

@mike - thanks! glad you enjoy it.

@tanuki - nope, i dont make it, just eat it! Keizo over at www.goramen.com is a full time ramen cook though, definitely check out his blog!

jerrysheng said...

rite, i followed the NYT and find this blog. A chinese.

Ana said...

Just went to Tokyo a couple of weeks ago and I sooo wish I came across your site before my trip. All the soups in the pics look amazing!

Tanya said...

yay on the article!!!

Would love to have a bowl of ramen with you when I visit Japan!

Nate said...

sorry for the late reply on your comments guys, been purty busy running around these days...

@jerrysheng - cool, hope you keep reading.

@ana - guess youll have to come back again! ramen will only get better!

@tanya - thanks alot, let me know if youre in town and ill see if im free.