Saturday, July 26, 2014

A Great Curry Rice @ Camp Express (Ikebukuro Station)

Back in Tokyo, the Japanese Curry specialist Camp had been on my go-to list for some time. While their honten main shop is in Yoyogi, I saw one of the Camp Express outlets in the JR side of Ikebukuro Station and made a stop in. The shop's official name is Yasaiwotaberu Karee Camp (野菜を食べるカレーcamp), roughly translated "Curry to Have Your Vegetables - Camp."

A very fun set up, imagine REI serving Curry around the back counter past the tents and sleeping bag isles, then add a feel-good dose of Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom... All was well with the world. :)

Menu wise, opposed to say, Coco Ichibanya where the concept based more on choose-your-topping-to-make-your-own, things are much more boutique flavored at Camp. The Cabbage and Scallop Curry was very enticing while the Hoikoro (Chinese Twice Cooked Pork) Curry sounded insanely good. I settled on the Miso Flavored Pork Curry with Eggplant (茄子と豚肉の旨味噌炒めカレー), which was closer to a curry flavored stir-fry.

Drooling delicious where I had shoveled through the cast iron plate dish in express worthy time. The ever adaptive Japanese Curry. Great versions and evolutions to be had here at Camp.

An Okinawa Soba - Miyako Soba Doraemon

This day was an outing to Naha City for some casual shopping with the fam. When time came for lunch, the uncle known to photo-document his meals had the honor of choosing where. Doraemon, I choose you! Byaay.

The shop is located on the second floor of a commercial building, but despite is very homey with lots of locals charm inside. The name Doraemon (ドラえもん) btw is actually from long time manga/anime robot cat from the future, it's popularity in Japan rivaling Hello Kitty, but probably more with boys.

We all ordered the house Doraemon Soba which is generously topped with Soki (stewed rib meat), Tebichi (pork trotters) and the Okinawa Soba ubiquitous "three-layered" Sanmainiku. Here also the bowl is a Miyako-jima islands variation where the noodles are straighter, thinner and flat, with the soup tending to also be on the lighter side.

Was a very nice bowl that came piping hot with well-seasoned rich and tender meaty toppings. The Tebichi was notably extra tender and delicious (although Hanaori Soba's is still in my tops for it). The lighter pork based soup had a good amount of additional dashi taken from katsuobushi which I also enjoyed very much.

Some extra dishes we shared were a bowl of Jyushee (a type of Okinawan rice medley) that was nice and light and a plate of Goya Chanpuru (sometimes spelled Champuroo) a very popular bittermelon stir-fry.

The Goya Chanpuru particularly shined and was the best I've had in a while. Made with expert high-heat wokkery, the firmer Shima Tofu handles the abuse with this version made (and "seasoned") with some corned beef hash, then finished with a sealing of a medium-rare egg. This canned corned beef hash as well as Spam, (pork luncheon meat generically referred to as ポーク, pōku or "pork") is an indispensable protein substitute however can also be seen as a type of "umami seasoning" with home cooking on the island.

Really enjoyed my meal at Miyako Soba Doraemon and would love to return whenever back in the area. My 2011 outing with friend in the Naha area of a visit to Makishi Public Market and Hanagasa Shokudo can be read here.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

An Okinawa Soba - Misato Soba

Sharing another Okinawa Soba tonight, Byaaaaay(!)...

Misato Soba had been a recommendation from a close friend for a long while and it was really great that we were able to find the afternoon to hang out the mostly family-centric time I had spent in Okinawa. As Takaesu, Misato Soba also resides on the first floor of a medium sized residential apartment complex. Was a little hard to find with some construction around at the time, but google maps location here.

The relatively smaller interior also seemed recently renovated and squeaky new but still retained a very homely charm. Chilled water or hot tea abound, condiments were also your usual suspects.

The budget friendly house named Misato Soba which we both ordered includes a variety of toppings from the ubiquitous three-layer pork Sanmainiku, melty tender long-stewed cartilage nankotsu, Yushi Tofu, a slice of island Kamaboko fish cake and sprinkle of minced negi green onions. This rather full-featured medium sized bowl was for a mere ~$5.

The soup made mainly with pork bones and katsuo (dried bonito) stock I felt was deep and richer than typical. The Okinawa Soba signature all-wheat noodles were straighter and less crinkly and was also very fresh tasting. Here, fuchiba (fuuchiba, mugwort, a.k.a. Yomogi on the mainland) comes with the order which adds a strong herbal and slightly medicinal note to the dish. I tended to be conservative in use of this old school herb but the resulting flavors did strike a nostalgic note which I enjoyed.

Currently I would consider the quiet Misato Soba in my top five of favorite Okinawa Soba shops on the island, and it's well deserved judging by quality and price. I have my friend to thank but the time that we were able to spend catching up while having the great bowl was also precious. Good times. :)