Sunday, September 24, 2017

Review: The Experience at Ichiran Ramen

Japan is known for a ton of amazing foods, including ramen.  I've had ramen in the states at 'authentic' restaurants but honestly didn't have high hopes for the ramen we'd have in Japan.  Plus, ramen reminds me of cheap college food.

Good thing I was wrong.  We found Ichiran Ramen on TripAdvisor when we were in Tokyo, and it was literally the best ramen I've ever had in my life.

Let me break down how you order ramen in Japan at a place like Ichiran.  First of all, if you go there at a prime eating time (i.e. lunch, dinner) you are going to wait in a single file line.  I have mad respect - they are so organized in Japan that if the line to get in the door is too long, they set up a SEPARATE line so you wait in 1 line, to wait in another line, to ultimately get in the door.  And when you are waiting in line, you take in the sights of Tokyo (complete with brightly colored lanterns).

Once inside, you order your ramen from a vending machine.  You might be like...wait, what?  Let me explain.  

It's a vending machine with buttons that you push to pay and get a receipt for your ramen.  We put our money in the vending machine, and I pressed the button for the traditional pork ramen (noodles, pork broth, pork, onions).  Then I pressed another button because I wanted a salted soft boiled egg on my ramen.  Then I pressed another button for extra noodles.  Then boom - we got a receipt for our order.

Then you wait in another line to get seated.  From there, you fill out a sheet of paper with how you want your ramen prepared.  Want extra garlic?  No garlic?  Want spice?  Extra extra spicy?  It's all there.  

This last line that you stand in is the line to get seated.  You are seated in individual booths with dividers, so while not ideal for large groups it's a cool individual experience (plus you don't have to worry about others judging you for slurping your ramen).  Your ramen is handed to you through a little window at your seat, and if you wanted a soft boiled egg they hand you the egg in a separate little bowl.

Doesn't the below look awesome?  I'm salivating over the broth.

  • Ichiran Ramen = best ramen I've ever had.  Only downside is it's in Tokyo (yes, it's a far flight - but an absolutely amazing bowl of ramen)
  • I also see there is an Ichiran Ramen in New York, but people didn't seem to excited about it.  Maybe it is the price, maybe it is the individual booths, etc.  But I'm 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Review: Taiyaki

First of all, what is taiyaki?  It's a fish shaped cake, without any of the fishy taste.  The taiyaki batter reminds me of a Belgian waffle batter, and it's poured into fish shaped molds.

Two of the fish shaped 'cakes' are sandwiched together, and in the middle is a filling.  The traditional Japanese filling is red bean paste, but they also have versions with whipped cream, vanilla cream, milk chocolate, etc.  They either come in a hot or a cold version; the cold version traditionally had whipped cream in it.

I've seen pictures of taiyaki posted on Instagram (as well as taiyaki ice cream cones that you can find in major cities in the US), but I got a chance to try the real, authentic thing - and dang it's good.

I'll be honest, it also may have been so good since I was starving and craving a sweet, snacky carb, which to my surprise wasn't super easy to find in Japan (home of the taiyaki).

While my husband tried the authentic red bean paste taiyaki, I was 'meh' about it since it tasted like sweetened beans and in general I'm not a bean person.

My go-to was the milk chocolate taiyaki.  The only place I found these cute little milk chocolate guys was in the anime/electronics district, and probably because of this, they were shaped like Pokemon Magikarp - so kawaii (cute)!

In general things tasted 'healthier' in Japan.  Reason I say this - the milk chocolate filling tasted like a milk chocolate pudding (and it probably was!)

I also tried the strawberry and whipped cream taiyaki, which reminded me of a strawberry pop-tart!  Very light and airy.

  • You MUST try taiyaki if you have the chance - I know I miss it!  Next thing I want to taste is a taiyaki ice cream cone in New York or California (I've seen them grace my Instagram page, and it makes me have food FOMO!)