Stephen Eats Weird(ish) Japan: Chocolate Instant Yakisoba

In case you’ve somehow forgotten, it’s nearly Valentine’s Day which means it’s once again time for Japanese food companies to make their best (or, in some cases, their worst) effort to capitalize on the season.  Case in point:  This limited edition chocolate-flavored instant yakisoba.

Now, I’m told that this particular strange food concoction was also in circulation last year but I evidently didn’t notice or at the very least didn’t care so it’s all new to me. Continue reading

Takano in Tokyo, Japan. 多賀野

Last week I found myself making a fortuitous trip to Tokyo for a quick business meeting and with time to spare over the weekend (At least, my weekend).  As anyone who has ever seen me can tell you, I enjoy eating and, while in Japan, enjoy eating ramen in particular.  And eat ramen, I did.

Since I was staying with my grandparents on the southside of Tokyo, I hit up Tabelog (the Japanese equivalent of Yelp, except on Tabelog, people don’t give one star reviews because the bus boy looked like their ex-boyfriend or five star reviews because the baby at the next table was really cute) and searched for the best ramen in the neighborhood.  This is what I found.  On Tabelog, anything above a 3.5 rating is usually pretty darn good and anything above four stars as a destination meal.  So imagine my surprise when I came across Takano, a ramen shop but a mere several kilometer walk from my grandparents’ hovel with a sterling 4.05 star rating.  My gastronomical target now in my sights, I laced up my new too-big-for-my-feet Clarks and left for an early lunch.

Signag

So after a fifteen minute walk from my grandparent’s house, I arrived at the place twenty minutes before opening and still found a decently sizable (that’s what she said) line awaiting me.  As it turns out, waiting in line is customary here (as with any other great ramen joint in Tokyo- or the rest of Japan, for that matter).

From the outside looking in

From the outside looking in

Once I actually got inside, I found myself at one of those classic stereo-typical L-shaped counter-only Showa-poi shops with one of those maneki-neko’s waving at me from a shelf over the stove (along with a plaque noting its place in the Micheline guide).  Not exactly stunning decor but the place was clean enough and gave the impression of a place people would actually be semi-comfortable in in a sober state.  I mean, I’m not taking a chick here on a date probably ever but I’d come here with food friends on a weekend.

Maneki

After another ten minutes of waiting (this time seated), my bowl arrived.  And what did I get for my 970 yen?

In case the sodium-laden broth or pork didn't raise your cholesterol, the egg'll do you in.

In case the sodium-laden broth or pork didn’t raise your cholesterol, the egg’ll do you in.

Quintessential Tokyo-style noodles and broth (fishy and salty but not overpowering) topped with melt in your mouth slices of char siu pork and a perfectly cooked agitama flavored egg.  Worth the wait (though I still think waiting two hours is a bit much during peak hours).  I just wish I wasn’t fighting a cold when I went.  Guess I’ll have to come back again.

Rating: 4 and a half Stephens (out of five Stephens)

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