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On this trip, we wanted to re-acquaint ourselves with the authentic tastes of various genres of Japanese food that we have been eating outside Japan. More traditional fare, we had during our ryokan stays (click here and here to see those posts).

We had just about a week in Tokyo and managed to eat ramen, shabu-shabu,  tonkatsu, Japanese curry, izakaya dining, yakimono, localized Italian and French. First up is ramen. Our first bowl on the trip was eaten at the Kagoshima airport. Nothing special.

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It so happened that a few of our friends just finished skiing in Nagano and were on their way back to the US. Before they got on the Narita Express at Tokyo JR station, we met for a couple of hours and suggested that we go eat tsukemen つけ麺  at the food street (ichibangai) beneath the station.

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We heard of this noodle place – Rokurinsha 六厘舍 – through Lucky Peach, a magazine/webzine edited by David Chang of Momofuku fame in NYC.  There is a world of information and insight on ramen on Lucky Peach – start here.

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The line for the restaurant wrapped around the corner. We waited patiently for about 15-20 minutes and bought our ticket at the machine.

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The concept of tsukeman is simple: one bowl of intensely-seasoned broth and one bowl of plain boiled noodles. You dip the noodle in the broth before slurping it up.

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At Rokurinsha, they provide a small heap of ground katsuobushi (dried fish flakes). They also consider dipping and slurping as something difficult to master without making a mess – they gave us tourists paper aprons !

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We encountered a branch of Rokurinsha at Skytree – a new cultural/shopping centre on the Sumida side of Tokyo. If you want to see more about tsukemen, watch The Mind of Chef – season 1, episode 1 – in which David Chang talks about ramen including tsukemen.

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Our next ramen stop was at Ippudo 博多一風堂 –  it was a late night dinner around the corner from our apartment in Aoyama. The restaurant is located in the basement of a building with another noodle restaurant on the top floor (but it was closed).

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Ippudo is probably quite familiar for folks from New York. We tried their first store near Astor place in 2009. They have now opened a second store in midtown near where we used to live.

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Founded in 1985 near Fukuoka, they appeared to have branches in major cities all over the world – London, Sydney, Singapore, Hong Kong, etc.

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We tried different varieties of ramen and were happy with all.

ramen-11Chinese-style, spicy.

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Chris asked for extra noodles.

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They seem to provide a lot of extras (8 items) on the table to customize your noodle experience.

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Last but not least, in Shibuya, Chris had a bowl of udon with oyster tempura, oysters happened to be in season.  It was delicious but the deep-fried nature of the oyster was lost in the clear soup.

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Well, our noodles experience has been limited to chain restaurants thus far – we have to return and try the masters.

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