The end of a great year…

Day 58:

It’s the last day of the year! I’d have to say that this has been one of my best years on record. It was a year in which I finally realized the path I need to take. It was a year that really opened my eyes and allowed me to reach for my dreams. I still don’t know where I’ll end up, but at least I feel like I’m headed in the right direction. Thanks again for allowing me to share my experiences with you. 2010 can only get better!

Before I headed out to Shibuya, I needed to have my version of toshi-koshi soba–ramen. So I stopped at Taishoken in Eifukucho to fill up on a hot, steamy bowl that would take me into the new year.


This massive bowl of shoyu ramen with bits of yuzu was perfect for the occasion. It literally warmed my soul with its intense heat. I was now ready to make the crossover.


I finally got to Shibuya just minutes before countdown and quickly got sucked into the raucous crowd. I have no idea who this guy was, but since he jumped into the picture I’m giving him a cameo on my blog. I was clearly too sober to react in any other way. haha.


Minutes later we were all screaming and shouting while the police tried to maintain order. It was nothing like Times Square, but a good time nonetheless.


And then it was off to the clubs…

Fat Wednesday…

Day 57:

My dad was in town for a few days on business so I met him up for breakfast at a soba-ya inside Shinagawa Station. I ordered Kitsune Udon.


Just outside the gates was this huge bowl of Donbei. I probably would have jumped in if it were ramen, but since it was soba I refrained.


Then it was off to Takadanobaba to meet up with Nate and Basil at Ganko Ramen but…it was closed until the 7th. We’ll be back.


As we were walking around for a place to sit down and chill, I noticed this soondubu restaurant run by the “Los Angeles Shinsengumi Group.” Haha…awesome!


After snacking on some spicy Thai food, I parted with Nate and Basil then met up with Brian and some friends to go get fat! The name of this ramen shop is 太 (Futo), which is the kanji for fat. It’s a limited time collaboration between Kaikarô and Gen’ei that (I’m sorry to say) ends today. Yup, this was the last day to try it. I’ll let ramenate explain.


The ramen was gravy-like and creamy. The added oil really did make me feel fat but like Brian said, it was “fat-tastic!”


The thick noodles were good, but the pork was the best part. Damn, I can still taste it.


And the staff was cool. Peace!


Later that night, we ended up here.


My friend was back in town and we all proceeded to celebrate the 2nd to last day of the year in style. I think. I can’t remember much. haha.

A week off!!!

Day 56:

I was feeling a lot better today. I actually woke up starving, but to stay on the safe side I just drank some bland tomato soup. Work wasn’t as hectic as we all thought it would be. I guess everyone ended up coming in yesterday instead. Regardless, we still hit over 100 peeps.

Afterwards, I got a call from Brian saying that him and Nate were kicking it with Basil at Bassanova. I couldn’t resist not going so I hopped on my bike and got there in a flash. This time I ordered the Green Curry Tsukesoba. Wow! I love this place.


When everyone left, I engaged in a conversation with the shop manager, Harada-san, and he explained to me that Bassanova was on the verge of closing earlier this year because the owner was just doing it for a hobby and didn’t really have the time to manage it. That’s when Harada-san decided to move from Fukuoka and leave his family behind so he could keep Bassanova running long enough until he could find a successor. This guy has more guts than I do and he is by all means a “protector” of ramen. We had a really nice talk and I’m glad I stopped by tonight. Thanks Harada-san!


Then it was just Basil and I roaming the streets of Shimo-Kitazawa in search of a chill bar to just…chill. That’s when we found the 808 lounge near the station. This Hawaii-themed bar was definitely chill and the owner happened to have a friend that owns a popular ramen shop called びぎ屋 (Bigiya). And his dad, who walked in as we were leaving, owns a ramen shop nearby too. Man, the ramen connections are endless!


Oh yeah, did I mention that I have a week off?!! Hmm…what shall I do…

%$&!

Day 55:

Ever since Day 53, I’ve been deathly ill with the worst stomach pains. Okay so I’m exaggerating a bit, but I still felt like crap all day. I wasn’t sure if it was the ramen I ate or what, but I was suffering. Let me just put it this way: Squatting toilets should be banned! haha. tmi?

Because I wasn’t feeling so well, Ivan made me this “Ivan Original” okayu (rice porridge). It was so damn good!


Today was a pretty crazy day. We were already down one staff member and a surge in customers almost doubled our Monday average. Plus Basil Childers, a photographer for the NY Times, came in to take pictures for Matt Gross’ upcoming article on ramen. It’s going to be epic!

One more thing, a drunk man came in as we were closing, ordered the shoyu ramen, took a couple bites, then fell asleep hunched over his bowl. I thought it was hilarious! And then when we woke him up he had the nerve to say that the flavor had dropped. The nerve!! That fool was so drunk he started yelling at people on the street as he left. I have a feeling this won’t be the last time I see something like this.

And then there were three…

Day 54:

From the first minute I walked in as an Ivan Ramen employee, Kimura-san was teaching me how to peel Ivan’s delicate hanjuku tamago. From then on, he was an integral part of bringing me up to speed with every task that needed to be learned. But today is Kimura-san’s last day as he is off to land a job in the sake industry, which his hometown of Niigata is famous for. Best of luck to you Kimura-san! Thanks for all your help!

木村さん、いろいろ教えてありがとう。頑張ってください!


I won’t share with you the five-letter word that Ivan said before taking this picture, but I can assure you that it was hilarious.

Anyway, so now we will be down one person for who knows how long. Can we handle it? Of course, but it will be a challenge. I’m ready for it!

ラブ = Love? Rub? Lab?

Day 53:

I got home from work and I was starving. I felt like having a Jiro-like meal piled with vegetables so I hopped on my bike and took a 10 minute ride to ラブメン楽々 in Koenji. I’m still trying to figure out the real meaning to the name, but this shop is from the same guys that do Raku Raku in Kichijoji.


There’s a bunch of free toppings (vegetables, garlic, cayenne powder, extra oil, saltier) that you can choose from.


I just chose some garlic. This ラブメン used to be a weekend special (限定) at the original shop, but I guess it was so popular that it inspired them to open up a second shop solely devoted to it. I’ll write-up a proper post later on, but this soup is a tonkotsu broth and meat dashi blend.


Beware! The next pic may make you drool. This tonniku (豚肉) was definitely the best part.


The noodles are fat and chewy much like Jiro.


Although I thought this ramen was really good, the ride home took way more than 10 minutes. I was stuffed. And as I write this I can feel a slight headache developing. What was up with those huge gas tanks outside anyway?


Whatever, it’s time for “The Brew.”


Goodnight!

It’s Christmas…all over the world!

Day 52:

For me, it’s never Christmas until I here this song. Anyway, check out what Santa brought me!


Everything that I asked for. Yes!


Before going to work, I ate a Christmas brunch with my friends at Gusto.


It was a beautiful day!


My Christmas dinner.


Of course I miss being with my family and friends during this holiday season, but that is one of the sacrifices I must make to pursue my dream. Please eat lots of turkey, ham, and prime rib for me today. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Go Ramen!