Sunday, April 18, 2010

Tokyo - Nagi Ramen

During my vacation in Japan, one of the objectives I had was to try some local Ramen at every city I visited. I was given a wonderful recommendation to try this little Ramen shop tucked away into a remote and abandoned street in the middle of Kabukicho, called Golden Gai. The foodie's destiny decided that my hotel, "Best Western Astina", was actually a 1 minute walk from the recommendation, which left me quite surprised when I decided to try to locate this place.

I won't go too much into detail on the history of this shop, since a fellow blogger has already done an excellent job. You can read his review here.

Nothing beats the feeling of finding this place and walking up the incredibly narrow stairs that lead to the cozy atmosphere of this ramen shop. As you reach the top of the stairs, you will be facing the vending machine from which you can buy the ticket corresponding to the ramen you want. I had the char siew ramen, which costs 1000 JPY. The staff is incredibly friendly and, although they can't speak English, they did their best to help me order and even made an effort to chit chat. I am always amazed by how these ramen chefs can produce such delicacies constrained by such small space. This shop is smaller than others, and watching the Chef handle all his utensils with such confidence within a space of 100x50cm is entertaining on its own.

A lot could be said about this ramen. It is unique, for sure. The soup is chicken based, with dried sardines to give it a fishy, more robust flavor. I believe this will go particularly well with the south-eastern Asian palate, as it recalls some of the smells and flavors I encountered in Singapore. The other unique feature of this priceless bowl of ramen is the noodles: handmade, irregular, with a firm-bite. I love the rustic feel of these unevenly shaped thick noodles. Additionally, you will find another type of noodles in your bowl: a few sheets of hor-fun like strands, flat, thin and long. These add even more depth to this unique ramen eating experience!
And finally, the char siew.... this the best I ever had. Lean, thick, pink slices of soft pork. Unlike the typical fatty pork that is served with most ramen, this is more chunky and juicy, with a distinct flavor of its own.

A bowl of nagi ramen is a concert of beautiful flavors and unique textures competing for your attention. It is an overwhelming, unmissable experience!

Finally, this is a video I shot of while my ramen were being prepared and served.

Nagi Ramen

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