Tag Archives: Kiraboshi Manten

“Say ‘Nevermore,'” said Shadow. “Fuck you,” said the Ramen.

The “early to rise, early to sushi” plan ended up in a disaster twice as I don’t really enjoy waking up in the middle of the night. Nevertheless, the hopeless attempts will resume when Tsukiji reopens.

In other news, ramen. I’ve tested three new places during the first half of Golden Week and a two thirds can be labeled as worthwhile visits. Right after leaving the One Piece Dome Tour I stumbled into a noodle chain that I had pre-scouted and was aching to try. Garufu Ramen (我流風ラーメン) had been mentioned in a couple of ramen blogs earlier as a Kagoshima-style ramen shop with a tonkotsu broth and high-quality pork. I have a very pragmatic approach to ramen, and therefore have no idea what Kagoshima style really incorporates, but tonkotsu and pork are the few requirements that need to be filled for me to start frothing. It really doesn’t take much.

Scorch pork slices -> ??? -> Profit

The place had a small queue, although there was clearly a lot of space at the counter, so I guess they were just busy. Once seated five minutes later, I ordered the tonkotsu ramen with extra slices of aburi chashuu. Aburi chashuu appeared to be high-quality fatty pork that had been slightly grilled in some way (later investigation points towards the use of a blowtorch). The noodles were pretty standard-sized straight noodles and the broth was really bland tonkotsu when compared to Muteppou, but then again, so is every broth. The true substance of the meal was clearly the chashuu, although it did not completely justify the ¥1280 price tag. Garufu remains, however, a positive experience as a whole.

After failing to wake up early on the 30th and in order not to waste the day completely I devised another culinary adventure, this time to another highly touted noodle shop. The very_appetizingly_named Junk Garage was located far north in Saitama, so the lunch ended up being quite expensive. The place is known for their soupless noodles, or 特製まぜそば (tokusei mazesoba), which essentially resemble a pile of leftovers thrown into a bowl.

The most sofisticated looking meal east of Kuopio

I wasn’t fully prepared for the effort, and therefore only managed to ask for fat and garlic as extra toppings, as I both didn’t know what was available and didn’t dare inquire. The older connoisseur next to me ordered all toppings with additional double garlic and gave me a lingering feeling of inadequacy in the process. Although the looks of the meal had earlier been described as “the wrong end of a hangover“, the taste was indirectly proportional to the visual appeal of the meal. The medley of noodles, fat, soy sauce, oil, mayonnaise, chashuu, egg, sprouts, onions and spices really hit the spot. I might not conduct a business lunch at Junk Garage, but that’s more due to the mechanics surrounding business meetings in general than personal preference. Delicious junk.

In preparation for Monday, I had located another supposedly delicious ramen shop in Nakano. Kiraboshi Manten (きら星満天) had been specifically recommended to me by the tenin of Muteppou when I had complained about the latter being closed on Mondays; expectations were high. The weather could best be described as ideal and the cycling distance of roughly five kilometers served as a sunny, appetite increasing hors d’oeuvre.

From left to right: chashuu on rice, fishy ramen and hidden kara-age

Difficulties began upon entering the shop. Although the ticket-dispenser offered a bowl of tonkotsu ramen together with one piece of kara-age as a cheap set, there was no apparent way to order additional slices of chashuu. I was left with the next best option, chashuu in a bowl of superfluous carbohydrates that the Japanese so love, rice. On the positive side, the price of the meal was acceptable at ¥1050 (830+220) and the large piece of kara-age was incredibly tasty. The problem lied herein: the tonkotsu ramen was accompanied by a dollop of grey fish paste that left the entire bowl with an intensely salty and fishy taste. In addition to not being exactly the flavor I was looking for in a pork bone broth, the shop itself was swimming in this pungent odor. While certainly effective as an insect killer, it also somewhat made me lose my appetite. Out of all the ramen I have eaten to this day, Kiraboshi Manten offered the first iteration of something that was clearly not devised for my taste buds. I would return there to feast on the kara-age, though.