Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Menka Iroha - Aqua City Odaiba, Tokyo

Aqua City is one of the two large malls in Odaiba (the other one being Venusfort), and to my knowledge, one of the few shopping malls in Japan. You see, most shopping malls in Japan are not really malls, but rather department stores or a cluster of department stores. Which is understandable, since land is so scarce in Tokyo, most stores can't have the luxury of opening individual outlets in large malls (like in Jakarta or Singapore). Instead, they will have outlets in department stores.

This restaurant looks like a typical men-ya (ramen restaurant) in major districts in Tokyo. However, the difference is, this restaurant is a part of a huge complex of ramen restaurants in Aqua City. Think of it as a 'ramen district' if you will.

The ramen district in shopping malls is quite an attraction for some Tokyoites. In fact, ramen districts are so popular, there are TV shows revolving around this subject. All of the ramen restaurants compete each other in garnering the most customers. Some have attendants shouting to call customers, some have big, big signs showing that their chef is famous, legendary, or been in a TV show.

I actually know this particular restaurant from an article I read in Tokyo Walker Magazine. Apparently, according to the article, this restaurant is quite famous for their kuro shoyu (black soy) soup. Evidently, when I went there, there was a lo-ong queue.

The ticket hanki (vending machine). How it works is, instead of ordering in a conventional way, you decide on what you'd like to have before being seated. After deciding, just press the corresponding button, insert the money, and you'll get a...(see below)

...meal ticket. After obtaining this ticket, you then can join the queue and wait until you're seated. The waiter will then collect your ticket and the ramen is then cooked and served. Neat, huh?

Ou-sama no kuro chashu men

-> The name roughly translates as, "The King's black chashu noodle". Chashu is a chinese-style roast pork. The "King" probably refers to the portion of the ramen. Now, I know that in Japan, there are some big-ass ramen. However, big is an understatement. This one is gigantic! I know you can't see it from the photo, but it's really, really big. Certainly fit for a king. Even I couldn't finish it. The taste? delightful. It has really deep flavors, and I especially love the stewed egg. How they manage to infuse lots of flavors to the egg (which logically can only be achieved by hours of stewing) but still keep the yolk soft is beyond me. Simply amazing.

At 1380 yen, it's quite expensive compared to regular ramens in Japan, which are usually priced between 500 - 1000 yen.

-> The chashu (roast pork) is a whole 'nother story. It's thick, yet tender and juicy. The fat content is very small, which is just delightful. However, it does not compromise the taste. It's fragrant, slightly sweet, and peppery. It goes perfectly with the dark-as-night kuro shoyu soup. Mmmm....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hanjuku tamago!!!1 I like!!
nih resepny, dari egullet forums.

Make a 3:1:1 mixture of water, soy sauce, and mirin.
Bring it to a boil, and let it cool.
(I used mirin-style seasoning, which doesn't contain alcohol, so I didn't boil.)

2. Bring water to a boil in a pot.
3. Put in 4 large eggs (L size).
Keep them in the fridge until you put them in.
4. Boil the eggs exactly for 7 min, rolling them in the pot occassionally with chopsticks.
5. Drain and put the eggs in cold water.
6. Remove shell.
7. Soak the eggs in the mixture overnight.