Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Couple More Nama Ramen Samples - Hachiya And Kurume Taihou

Sharing today a couple more nama ramen sampler packs that I picked up my visit to the Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum last winter. These sat in my queue longer than they should have but I wouldn't have trouble describing them today the strong characters they were. Anyhow like the previous two I shared, these also are cast in bluish morning light and were consumed for breakfast earlier in the year.

While the seafood umami refined creamy Tonkotsu of Santouka (est. 1988) may have put Hokkaido's Asahikawa city on the more recent pop ramen radar map, the strong rustic smokey fish flavors of Hachiya (est. 1947) one could say would've been the uncontested icon of the city prior to.

This bowl was hard for me to label as definitive Tonkotsu, Gyokai, or Shoyu because it was frankly all the above. The double soup of animal base (pork bone) is blended with the other half equally pronounced fish base with copious amounts of Aji-boshi (dried Japanese Jack mackerel). The Shoyu-dare (liquid flavor base) used is also said to be concocted and concentrated with fish based umami and the last word I would choose to describe the experience would be subtle.

All is further tied together with Hachiya's known Kogashi (scorched) Lard to create their distinctively aromatic pork/fish/shoyu ramen. The flavors were bold but well behaved, something I personally loved and couldn't get enough of but also imagine how more than a few may absolutely not care for. Perhaps easily explains why you won't see Hachiya instead of Santouka any time soon at your city's Mitsuwa Market, haha, but I really did love it.

Too bad I didn't have any toppings to cut all the richness but in its properly served form (very crudely sketched first above) you'd find garnishes of rather lean pork chashu, menma (marinated bamboo shoots) and green onions. Toppings are said kept simple to let the main focus shine - the soup and noodles underneath. The noodles are made with a particularly low water content where the tendency of absorbing the delicious soup is appreciated.

I also had fun imagining an all aji-tamago bowl for the egg whore that I am. Sorry you might have to squint your eyes, my arm just wasn't synching well with the tablet today, haha.

Kurume Taihou is another oldie but goodie. Taihou a renown shop in Kurume, the city said to be the birthplace of Fukuoka / Kyushu Tonkotsu Ramen that we all know and love.

This earliest form of Kyushu's Tonkotsu I've read is made purely with pork bone and seasoned with only a salt base. This seemingly simple one sentence recipe would be greatly deceived by the method where Kurume Taihou's deep unctuous flavors are brought out not only by the long arduous hours of boiling, but also the results of the practically unduplicable "tsugitashi" (aka: "yobimodoshi") process of continually revitalizing the untouched mother cauldron with new stock, now going on 50 years strong. Dayang...

The noodles are the familiar thinner, straight and whitish where boiling them to the correct doneness would be a brisk task. Normal firmness was instructed at 90-secs and for firmer only 60. I think I cooked mine for a mere 45 seconds knowing I'd be losing a few in the photo-documenting process.

Came with a packet of benishoga red pickled ginger and ground roasted sesame seeds. The unmarinated fresh boiled egg made on the spot was closer to hard than the soft that I'd wanted but still managed to be a great complement.

The Mukashi Ramen's cloudy soup is more translucent and colored than some may recognize to familiar near opaque white comparisons but as its name implies this viscous emulsion of collagen, lard and everything else pork bone surrenders after such deep boil evokes what I'd imagine were rustic tonkotsu flavors of olden days. Surprisingly rich, simple but nuanced, and very flavorful. Long story in a nutshell, it's freak'n good!


K and S said...

mmm ramen!

Carol said...

Dennis, you have some of the coolest ramen packages I've ever seen. Mmmm, ramen would be great right now.

Dennis K. said...

Hi Kat, mmmm is right! ;)

Hi Carol! Wish they sold more variety here. Though Nijiya, Mitsuwa and Marukai have their characteristics they often tend to carry the exact same products.