Probably my most favorite food from Japan happens to be ramen. I’ve had a growing appreciation for it over the years and finally having a chance to run around ramen heaven, well, I can’t pass up the opportunity to explore and indulge a little. Many people are quite familiar with the instant variety you can find pretty much everywhere, one that tends to be a cheap no thrills easy meal to resort to at home. Unfortunately within Canada we don’t have too many options for authentic ramen restaurants unless you live in one of the bigger cities such as Toronto or Vancouver. Even then, to tell the truth it can often be hit or miss.
For those not familiar with ramen, it is basically a Japanese noodle dish with a meat based broth served with a wide range of ingredients and flavourings ranging from miso, to salt, to spicy miso, to soy sauce and on and on. To be honest there’s a huge range of ingredients and flavours that make for a new experience every time. It is no surprise that there’s a strong following and culture behind the dish both here in Japan and around the world. Many areas within Japan are known for their own unique flavours and signature dishes.
One of the very first places I went to after arriving in Tokyo was Kikanbou. After doing some research online i found it came highly recommended, even more so for me as I had just arrived from Korea and was desperately not only craving ramen but needed something to fill the “spicy” gap I got so used to in Korea. Needless to say I was looking forward to the visit.
The restaurant happens to be located a few minutes walk from JR Kanda station on a quiet unassuming corner. When I arrived there was a line up stretching outside the tiny restaurant, something that is always a welcome sign to a good meal ahead. Inside the place was decorated with masks of demons devils and trolls. There was traditional Japanese drumming music playing in the background as the chefs elegantly prepared the dishes. Personally I’ve come to love the unpolished look of places like this. No thrills on elegance or decore but the mood of the restaurant only helped to build my anticipation, especially seeing a row of Japanese business men sweating profusely as they downed their dishes.
See, the wonderful thing about this place is you choose not only your level of spiciness but numbness, courtesy of sansho pepper which has a numbing effect to kick things up a little. I’m have a rather high spice tolerance but i opted for the second highest levels on both spiciness and numbness the first time around. To put simply this ended up being one of the best bowls of ramen I’ve had to date. The broth ended up being nice and deep and quite heavy. The levels of spiciness and numbness made for another interesting dimension and was fairly challenging for me though at a later visit I ended up trying the ultimate level and it was a sincere struggle, even for me. I have to applaud that.
The sliced pork in the dish was so tender it was almost melting. Absolutely delicious and it, along with the flavour of the broth is one of the sings i really enjoy about this dish.
If you’re ever in Tokyo I highly recommend dropping by this place. For me It’s become a regular visit, even if I’m trying to explore various other venues simply for the experience.