Wednesday, April 14, 2010

一竜 (Ichiryû)

Sitting and hanging out with Keizo at Bassanova (see below), we started talking about (what else?) ramen. It turns out that shop manager Komuro-san used to work two doors down at neighboring Ichiryû, so full as I may have been off ramen, rice, and couple of beers, i found myself hankering to give that shop a shot too. "Dude, I'm pretty full...I know I'll regret it later." I protested. "Man, just shut up and go eat it," Keizo countered. Don't try and argue with a man who eats two bowls a day.

Well, it doesn't take too much convincing to get me to try out a bowl of Hakata ramen. That milky, creamy pork marrow soup and those thin noodles are at the roots of my ramen obsession, and I'm still on my quest to find the best bowl in Tokyo. Ichiryû just happens to be the Tokyo branch of one of the all-time favorites of none other than Rameniac, who is definitely a dude who knows his way around Hakata ramen.

Ichiryû claims to have first started serving way back in 1955 (wowzerz!), permanently affixing their outdoor stall along the riverbank in 1974 in the Nakasu area of Fukuoka, ground zero for Hakata ramen. I've never been to Fukuoka (...yet!), but I've heard that down there ramen is still very much tied to its roots as a street food snack, and Ichiryû is one of the highest regarded street stalls along the river.

Well, maybe my expectations were just a bit too high. While certainly serviceable, nothing really seemed special to me about my bowl at Ichiryû. Even given that Nakasu-style ramen tends to be a bit thinner and lighter than ramen served across the way in the Nagahama area, the soup tasted a bit weak to me.

I tricked out the bowl in proper fashion with red pickled ginger, takana mustard greens, garlic, and sesame, but the taste just never came together with the whirlwind that I'm looking for when I gruzzle my Hakata ramen. I later found out that I happened to eat there on a day when Kawagoe-san, the shop master, wasn't around, so I think I need to try it again when his expert hands are preparing the soup. The Ichiryû team and the crew at Bassanova are buddies, so I'm sure I'll find myself back here at some point. See you again Ichiryû, I want you to show me everything you got!

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