Friday, July 23, 2010

Slurping Ramen in Shiodome at Kitakata Bannai Koboshi

Marinated, roasted pork belly, sliced so thin, each slice with a perfect blend of soft, melt-in-your-mouth-meat and fat with a sliver of roasted pork skin that miraculously has not lost its bite and slight crunch ... now put these on top of a light, simple but flavorful broth made of pork bones .... it's a bowl of porcine goodness! It's Cha-shu Men!

Cha-shu is a derivative of char siu (roast pork) and cha-shu ramen while very popular in Japan and is really considered as a chinese noodle dish. As opposed to the soba and udon noodles which are inherently Japanese.
The Japanese who are very serious about their food even have a ramen museum in Yokohama City where ramen from the different regions in Japan are showcased. One of the more famous ramen is Kitakata ramen which traces its origins from a city northeast of Tokyo.
Kitakata ramen noodles are very springy, they don't lose their texture or become soggy even when the hot broth has been poured over them.

In Tokyo, there is a chain specializing in Kitakata ramen. Called Kitakata Ramen Bannai Koboshi,
it has a branch very conveniently located near the hotel I always stay in. Lunch time lines are long so if you don't want to wait, it's better to go early or very late.
A regular order of cha-shu men comes with generous slices of cha-shu, plus a ajitama or soft boiled egg, some menma or pickled bamboo shoots and green onions.
Lunchtime goers can have free rice with their ramen -- carbo overload! Or one can order the set meal which includes a side dish of thicker cha-shu slices over rice and a whole boiled egg.
 If you're a real pork lover, you can order the slightly more expensive bowl that comes with double the pork slices and no other distractions. Watch out for that cholesterol content!

No lingering at Bannai Koboshi. Everyone shares a table. Order your cha-shu ramen, have some gyoza on the side, gulp down your beer, slurp your soup and go. Other people are waiting to take your place!

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