November has finally come to an end and I’m approaching the one month mark of being in Japan. I still don’t think it’s hit me that I’m living here. I guess I really haven’t had much time to think about it because I’ve been so busy with work. In any case, I’ve learned so much in the past 27 days and I’m close to being able to take on every responsibility at Ivan Ramen. I still can’t thank the man enough for giving me this opportunity.
On a side note, two brothers who follow this blog came to visit me at work all the way from San Francisco. Their names were Ben and Ivan (not kidding). They seemed cool so we decided to meet up for lunch tomorrow!
New York that is. Matt Gross, who writes a frugal blog for the New York Times, came into Ivan Ramen today to interview the master, my boss. Apparently he is writing an article on the obsession of ramen and surprisingly he also wanted to interview me. I was nervous for sure, but talking about ramen always comes naturally. I just know it’s gonna be an awesome article!
In other news, I had the Roast Garlic Mazemen for lunch today for the first time and it was lip-smackin’ good!
I met up with an old friend from high school tonight. I saw him the other night for the first time in 14 years, but we never got the chance to really talk about the years we missed, until tonight. I took him to the infamous Spain Bar to chill over a few nama beers. It was a good night. We’ve both been through a lot over the years and it was nice to just sit down and hang out like we never even missed a beat. It’s funny how things work out sometimes…
For all of you back home in the States waiting in those long lines for great deals, I waited in line too but not for bargains. I waited for Ikasumi (squid ink) Ramen! (Actually, it’s tsukemen.)
Every Friday at Jiraigen, the shop closes and reopens as Black Friday! And there is only one thing on the menu–Squid Ink Tsukemen!
Hence, Black Friday! Squid ink in ramen is generally considered a gimmick since it really adds no flavor to the soup, but Black Friday does a good job of selling it. Plus, it’s hella good!
The noodles were also thick and chewy and very springy.
When you’re done with the noodles you can ask for soup wari to make the soup weaker and drinkable. Mmm. I’m pretty sure the base is chicken with some sort of dashi.
Work today was extra busy and apparently a famous comedian came in to eat a bowl. He’s the guy who does all the Obama impressions here in Japan. Cool, huh? Anyway, hope everyone had a great holiday!
I had to work today and I’m very, very thankful of that. After all, I’m living my dream right? My Thanksgiving dinner was Mexican Tacos Men–the closest thing to home.
I know I’ve mentioned how good this was before, but just look for yourself. Sure it would have been nice to have some turkey and stuffing or my mom’s green bean casserole, but I really can’t ask for anything more in this current life that I live. I have a lot to be thankful for.
So thank you and Happy Thanksgiving!
What do you do when you’re stuck in Chiba and you’re friends are hungry at five in the morning and there are no ramen-ya’s open? Beef bowl!!! Yes it’s Yoshinoya. For those familiar with Yoshinoya back in the states, the Japanese version is a thousand times better!
Oh yeah. There are no words to explain. Plus I’m hella tired. haha.
Two thumbs up!!
After my beef bowl, I made the hour and a half trek back to Tokyo and managed to get a few hours of sleep. It was then that I had a dream…a dream about ramen.
Apparently I promised someone I met the other night that I would take her to eat ramen. In that case, off to Shodai Keisuke!
For some black miso ramen!
This was a really strong ramen but it was incredibly satisfying and a great ending to my two days off.
I think I’ll go to sleep now. Goodnight!
After a night of heavy drinking, it was suddenly 3am and we were all craving ramen. Somehow we ended up at Tsukomo Ramen in Tsudanuma, which is in Chiba-ken. I’m not exactly sure how we got there, but when our friend drove by and I saw the neon lights, I’m pretty sure I yelled out “cheeese!!” Oh yeah, did I mention I had today off?
Unfortunately, the Cheese Ramen was all sold out. Dammit!
Instead I got the regular Tonkotsu Ramen. It was okay. Afterwards, I got a ride back to Shinjuku and somehow made it home for a few hours of sleep.
When I finally did wake up, I was still disappointed that I couldn’t try the Cheese Ramen earlier so first thing I did was call Brian and make lunch plans at the main Tsukumo branch in Ebisu. There was no way I’d let the cheese elude me this time.
And sure enough, I finally got to try it. One word: WOW! It was better than I thought it would be. The miso-tonkotsu base topped with this mound of cheese was awesome!
Later that night, it was back to Chiba for some more good times with both old and new friends. I’m so glad I get another day off.
Today was a national holiday in Japan so we were open during the day instead of the evening. And being that it was a holiday, the line out our door never let up. Needless to say, we were busy but in a good way. My friend Daizo was in town from the States and he decided to stop by with some of his friends. Let it be known that Daizo is the first friend from the States to come visit me at work. Thanks D! Anyway, I made him my first ever buta tomato meshi and luckily it turned out good with Ivan’s approval. It’s too bad we didn’t take any pictures.
After work, we all went drinking in Shinjuku and had a blur of a time!
2 days off baby!!
Perhaps I should tell you what Tsukemen is first. Well, Tsukemen is a cold noodle that is dipped in a hot soup. In contrast, Atsumori Tsukemen is a HOT noodle dipped in a hot soup. Although you can order Tsukemen atsumori-style all year round at Ivan Ramen, it is only in winter that you’ll get to try the Atsumori Tsukemen with a special noodle recipe.
The regular tsukemen used a noodle made with rye flour, but the winter Atsumori Tsukemen uses a totally different recipe based on wheat flour. Both are good, but the atsumori is perfect for tsukemen peeps that still crave it in the winter.
There are a few dipping soups that you can choose from and today I chose the goma dare (sesame-based) and loved it! Don’t forget to ask for soup-wari so you can drink the soup when you are done. Trust me, you’ll want to drink it!
I was really, really craving a burger when I got off work so I went to the only place I could think of…Mickey D’s! Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese baby!! Wow, that actually tasted better than in the states.
Can you tell I felt better today? Just one more day until I get two days off!!!
It finally got me. My coworker has been sick for the past couple days and I think he passed me his cold. But in this business you can’t take any days off so I pushed through it without complaint. It’s been raining and getting colder and colder as we approach the heart of winter. It’s definitely different from LA. I got home early cuz it’s Saturday so now I am just gonna go to sleep. Goodnight!