I am not a ramen expert by any means and today I decided to explore ramen delights in Tokyo with Tsukemen.
Firstly we start with the oni, the ramen theme at kikanbou is the devil and his baton, used for force when necessary.
Depictions of oni are usually portrayed as ugly and scary, and when you enter Kikanbou, you feel the vibes of “kara-mashi, shibi-mashi” as the background music plays – http://aooni.wikia.com/wiki/Sound
Unsure as to what to do, a server comes over and asks if we speak Japanese, and without much chance he turns and walks away. I know this was not my usual food spot so I needed to patient.
He returned and showed me a chart as he pointed the vending machine and so buy tickets because the staff do not handle any money. /how cool is that/
He presented us a chart and I looked at it and choose my option deluxe dip noodle, it was all of $8, which seemed pretty reasonable. So I ordered the deluxe noodle and waited for my fast food experience.
I couldn’t believe it as I sat at the counter, I said to myself (looking around) this is going to an experience. Last night Noma Tokyo, and now fast food in a cheesy part of town, almost in the middle of no where.
I was now confronted with the final choices, and they asked, ‘how hot did I want my ramen’ and the ball was in my court. I settled for Fu-tsu, regular hot (chilli) and now I needed to decide about the Szechuan pepper. In fact this pepper named sanshō in Japanese is illegal in some USA states. as it numbs your lips and mouth.
I thought of having the hottest but the staff all took turns warning me, and I wimped out and ordered the regular, which is just right. However the staff enjoyed to watch me test the hottest pepper (oni mashi) and I thought it was hot – but not deadly.
Finally the dish arrived and it wasn’t so fast, it looked like it would be fast but we waited 15+ minutes as the chef cooked each bowl for his customers. The fact is; this is not typical ramen at all, and it is referred to as tsuke-men, to put the noodles and you receive a bowl of noodles, and a hot broth soup made with slow roasted pork and plenty of spices – now put the noodles.
Hidden beneath the half fried sprouts are fattish udon type noodles, and now its up to you to mix the two, slurp and enjoy. I now feel the spirit of ramen and will now begin my journey…