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January 10, 2008

The Ramen Master

Before coming to Tokyo Shimpei had mentioned a new Ramen place had opened about a block away from his station and it was really good taste. We headed off for dinner with the typical Japanese style directions, "from the station cross the tracks, then walk to the 7-11 and hang a left and after a bit you'll know when your there". It was very easy to find with a long line of people and a simple sign "eat ramen here".
The place is called Ivan Ramen, and it is really great Ramen. Miki proclaimed the the Shio (Salt flavored) was the best she had ever had and actually finished the whole bowl. For some strange reason and a first for this trip I didn't order the spicy Ramen and had the Roasted Garlic Chashu Ramen it was totally amazing, the Chashu (Roasted Pork) was very tender and passed Nagasaka's Chashu test with flying colors as it was about half an inch thick and stood on end very nicely.
Ivan is a chef raised in New York and had worked all over place. He followed the dream of making the perfect Ramen with quality ingredients, a great relation with his guests and staff in a good atmosphere. We will be headed back in the next few days and I will get the spicy ramen this time.
If you ever get over to the Rokakouen area in Tokyo eat some ramen there. You can get more information from Ivan's web page at http://ivanramen.com and his story about why at http://www.ivanramen.com/story1.html ~Keath

January 1, 2008

The Deadly Poisonous Killer Japanese PufferFish

Fugu NabeYes... Challenging life, death or worse! Fugu paralyzes the muscles while the victim stays fully conscious. There have been tales of people being taken to the hospital and put in the morgue and wake up at some point later if they don't die from that whole not breathing thing.
HirezakeFugu is actually fairly safe to eat and has an amazing texture and a really subtle nice taste. Almost all parts of the Fugu are eaten in many ways. The fins are toasted and put in Sake for a drink called Hirezake.
Fugu Sashimi known as Tessa is sliced amazingly thin and laid out nicely on a plate, some restaurants lay them out as the winds of a crane. The skin is sliced thin and prepared by blanching with ponzu in a dish called Yubiki.
TessaYubikiYubiki closeup
Fugu in PonzuThe main part of the meal is Fugu Nabe, with peaces of Fugu, enoki mushrooms, chrysanthemum leafs, Napa Cabbage, Naganegi (Onion) and glass noodles. Nabe is a kind of soup where you have a boiling pot of soup in the center of the table and add ingredients as the meal goes on. The person who takes responsibility for adding stuff to the nabe is the Nabe Bugyo (Nabe Director or Judge).
Fugu KaraageDeep fried Fugu karaage is also popular, but due to the interesting bone structure it takes a little bit of work to eat.
When you finish eating nabe and the resulting soup has picked up all the good flavors it is often used in a dish called Ojiya by mixing rice, egg and green onions in to create a kind of porridge. Then the set finished the dinner with tea and sweet Jellies.
Alternately, if you are so inclined you can just grab a few whole Fugu ( this nice looking one is only about $88 will feed two people ) from the local grocery store and prepare it yourself. They also have some prepared sets for Nabe, sashimi and Yubiki.
Fugu at the StoreFugu Nabe SetFugu Price Tag