Sapporo Junren (さっぽる純連) – Instant 生 Ramen

You might hate me for this one. Especially if you live outside of Japan. So if you don’t want to look any further, let’s just hope your IT department blocks the pictures. (I know you read my blog at work…;)

Sapporo Junren is like the offspring of Sumire. I don’t know the exact story, but somewhere down the line they branched off in an amicable split. The kanji for Junren (純連) even used to be read Sumire. Interesting, huh? This also explains their similarity in taste. Not that that’s bad because they both make a mean miso ramen. Even this stuff in a box is tha sh**!


The contents include noodles, menma, miso paste, and lard. Yes, lard is the key ingredient here. Without it you might as well throw it away.


A little added bonus is this pack of “fresh” Sumire chashu I also brought back. No better time to eat it then now.


*グツグツグツ* That’s the sound of the miso paste and lard coming to a boil. Ouch! It splashed on my arm.


Let’s talk about the noodles first before I show you the grand finale. They have a medium thickness with a good chew that’s able to withstand the piping hot soup. Damn I miss Hokkaido…


Behold, the best-looking instant ramen ever! Great-tasting too! Yeah, I know I could have spruced it up with some green onions and/or moyashi, but look at that chashu!! You definitely missed out on this one! Sorry….


If you do happen to be in the Yokohama area, the Shinyokohama Raumen Museum is currently featuring Ramen No Eki, a collaboration between Junren and Sumire. Go check it out!

Sugitaya (杉田家) – Isogi-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan

If you ever make it out to Yokohama, it’s all about the “Iekei” ramen! Aside from going to the Raumen Museum, don’t bother looking for anything else because Yoshimuraya‘s influence runs deep…real deep. Sugitaya is just one of many shops branched off from its famous parent. A typical “Iekei” ramen features a tonkotsu (pork bones) and torigara (chicken bones) mix with a special shoyu-dare that is highly top-secret. Order the ramen and top it off with a mound of green onions if you like. That’s Sugitaya’s specialty. Or just order the regular ramen and customize it to your preference. I recommend ふつう (pronounced futsuu), which means regular. They may ask you a few questions so just keep saying ふつう、ふつう、ふつう. The last question will be about the noodles. I noticed most of the people ordering it hard so if that’s your thing just answer “katamen” to the last question. The noodles are thick and the soup is heav[enl]y. Be prepared to get full!

From Shinsugita Station take the West (西) exit and walk north for about 3 minutes. It’ll be on your left. Get a plastic ticket from the machine and grab an empty seat. If it’s crowded (it usually is) then just wait patiently for one of the dude’s in white to call you. After you finish your bowl, remember to put it up and use the nearest rag to clean your mess–and I’m not talking about your face! Trust me, that rag is pretty nasty…hahaha.

Other sites that mention Sugitaya:

Nandenkanden (なんでんかんでん東京本店) – Setagaya-ku, Tokyo, Japan

Are you feeling バカ (stupid)? Then you’ve come to the right place. No, they’re not trying to offend you but the several idiotic (baka) items on the menu might. I’ve never tried them but I’ve heard the toppings can get pretty crazy. If you’re feeling relatively normal then it may just be better to go with the popular items like Hanjyuku Tamago Ramen, Iwanori Tamago Ramen, Chashu Ramen, or Fukuya Mentaiko Ramen. Or even just go with the simple Ramen like I did. It’ll give you a good taste of tonkotsu without having to travel to Hakata. There’s no ticket machine here so just grab a seat and yell out your order.

From Shindaita Station you’ll travel in the same direction as Bassanova (exit the station, cross the street, and go right) then continue for about 5 more minutes north on Kannana-dori until your body permeates a wall of stinky tonkotsu. Trust me, you’ll know what I’m talking about. It opens at 6pm and closes at 3:30am or 4am depending on the day. You may not want to take a date here unless of course she’s as crazy as you about ramen. (That reminds me, remember that girl that kept checking out Brian right in front of her boyfriend? Dude you should’ve made a move. I woulda had yo back…haha.)

Some other sites that mention Nandenkanden Tokyo Honten:

Bassanova (バサノバ) – Setagaya-ku, Tokyo, Japan

With the recent influx of creativity driving the height of ramen in Tokyo to new levels, Bassanova is on the forefront of creating an amazing Thai-influenced bowl that will knock your Chada off. Their signature ramen is the Tondaku Wadasi Soba, which is a half-tonkotsu-half-fish blend with thin noodles and grilled chashu. But I’ve always had a thing for their Green Curry (グリーンカレー) Ramen–a mildly spicy, rich and refreshing blend with thick noodles that satisfies whether you’re sober or not. Some other offerings include a Tom Yum Soba, a 100% Tonkotsu Ramen, and a Tondaku Wadasi Soba with extra meat. I may be biased since my brother lives close by, but it’s definitely a must try when you’re in or around the area.

If you can find your way to Shindaita Station, it’s about a one minute walk from there. Just exit the station, cross the street, and go right. Then you’ll see a vertical neon sign that says RA-MEN on your left. You can’t miss it! Order from the ticket machine (Green Curry is in the leftmost column, fourth button down) and grab a seat. They are open every night from 6pm-3am (last order 2:30am).

Some other sites that mention Bassanova:

The Ramen King and I – On Sale Today!!

Andy Raskin’s The Ramen King and I: How the Inventor of Instant Ramen Fixed My Love Life is on sale today in a bookstore near you. If it wasn’t for this pesky eye infection I’ve been fighting (presumably from seeing so many amazing things on my trip), I probably would have read it by now too. In any case, the early reviews are very positive so be sure to pick up a copy of your own.


Hopefully by reading this, my love life will be fixed too…haha.