Sunday, December 28, 2014

Ramen Love at AiAi Ramen in Komagome, Tokyo

After a rainy and windy  morning at Rikugi-en Gardens, we were cold and hungry.  What could be better than a bowl of piping hot ramen to warm us up?  Thanks to my ever trusty pocket wifi, I was able to search for the nearest ramen restaurants around the area.

Google maps walked us through the slick wet streets around the JR Komagome station.  We lucked into this ramen restaurant called Aiai Ramen.  It looked like as good a place as any to get in out of the bitingly cold rain.

Unfortunately there was no english menu but the prices were very reasonable, that much I could tell.
I was quite impressed by the long list of choices on the menu but then this is what happens when you can't read kanji. . . 

I had to contend with this picture menu placed on the wall.   These special ramen bowl sets  come with 3 choices of side dishes -- chinese fried rice, omurice (omelet rice) or mabotofu.  I decided to go with set B --  a regular chashu ramen with ajitama plus a side dish of fried rice.

Aiai (which the waitress told me meant "love love") was full of their regular lunch time patrons, most of them in uniforms.  Two cooks in the open kitchen and one hardworking waitress made up the entire staff of this busy ramen place.

I am always impressed by the speed and efficiency in restaurants in Japan.  In Aiai Ramen, there was only one waitress who took the orders, brought them to the tables, served tea and water and received payment at the cash register.  Yet there was no lag and all tables were served quickly and without any fuss.

Aiai is a ramen chain from Yonezawa -- a few hours away from Tokyo.  Yonezawa ramen uses a clear and rather simple broth made of chicken bones and nishiboshi or dried sardines.
I much prefer this type of base to tonkotsu as it has a cleaner feel and finish.  You don't feel so heavy after enjoying a bowl.

We also ordered ramen's perfect match -- a plate of gyoza.  Aiai's dumplings were crisp on the outside, perfectly fried to the last second.

It's easy enough to find Aiai Ramen -- it's just off to the side exit of Komagome JR Station and a few meters away from this arch.  If you're planning a visit to Rikugi-en Garden, this is a convenient place for a meal.

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