NYE ET…

Day 1154:

It’s been sort of a tradition to eat ET on New Year’s Eve.

The last ramen of the year…again.

And now this year can end on a good note too.

Time to party!

Sukiyaki-style!

Toshikoshi Soba!

3…2…1…Happy New Year!!! No fireworks?

Thank you all for helping me have another wonderful ramen year. And thanks for letting me share my life with you for another year. 2012 was great, but I have a feeling 2013 is gonna be even greater. After all, this year is my year–the year of the snake!

Back to back bounenkai!…

Day 1153:

It’s official. Kusamura (草むら) has been my favorite shop of 2012.

Now this is one bowl I wouldn’t mind eating every single day.

Maybe even twice a day.

Bounenkai round 1!

Hosted by Jiraigen!!

This year has been a dream…

Boom’s face explains it all!

After party!!

Bounenkai round 2! Shindaita rocks!!

And we survived!!!

Friendly visits…

Day 1152:

Look! It’s テキサス麻里奈

Look! It’s Dana from NYC!

Look! It’s Hayley and her bf from LA!

Thanks for coming in everyone. I’m glad I came in for the lunch shift today!

A quick break for lunch myself…

At none other than the Bush.

Another true ramen god.

Last GCS of the year!

Last cheese senbei of the year!

Otsukare! Bassanova will be closed from 12/30~1/4. See you next year!!

Hikari reunion…

Day 1151:

With a long trek back home, I checked out a little early and headed to Nagoya to meet an old friend.

It’s been almost 2 years since I’ve been here and man have things changed.

Even the udon shop next door is now owned by my friend too.

Yo Yamamoto-san!!

Bi-Tonkotsu Ramen.

Do-Tonkotsu Ramen.

Best ramen in Aiichi-ken!!!

Karaage.

Tanmen.

Now this was one recipe I couldn’t leave without getting.

Ketchup noodles?

Always a blast hanging out. Thanks Yamamoto-san!!!

6 hours later, I finally made it back to Tokyo.

Nachos!!

Wow, what a long day…

Dreams colliding…

Day 1150:

Kobe ramen!!! Mokkosu (もっこす 総本店) in Okurayama is probably the most legendary shop in Kobe.

And when I found out that they were open 24 hours, there was only one thing I could think of…breakfast.

Chashu Ramen. Now this is Kobe ramen.

Yup, ramen for breakfast.

But at 9am…

It was a little much.

Bowl of Dreams!!!

When Ueyama-san from Shoki Ramen House (yes the same Shoki in Sacramento) called to tell me that he was opening a shop in Kobe I knew I had to come and help.

The soup is ready for the pre-open!!!

Now time for a test run.

Shoyu Ramen.

In a land full of thick tonkotsu based ramen, I think Kobe could use a light assari-kei.

After my morning bowl, this was definitely a welcome refreshment.

Want it spicy? Ueyama-san’s homemade rayu paste will blow you away.

Gochisousamadeshita!

In the afternoon, I took a walk around town and discovered this Starbucks. Situated in an old home that was built in 1907, this was a Starbucks not like any other I’ve seen.

Along the hills of Kitano, many of these old-western-style buildings built by the earliest of foreign settlers were being preserved as museums. At 1000yen a piece to enter them…

I just decided to visit the Kitano Tenman Shrine.

And enjoy the view.

After returning to the shop, Kathy (Ueyama-san’s wife) and I decided to go check out one of the most popular shops in the Kobe area. Mendou Shuhari (麺道 しゅはり) near Rokkomichi Station was recommended by a friend and has been atop the rankings for years now.

They specialize in Shio Ramen (潮らあめん) that is a blend of pork, chicken, and dashi.

It was a very soothing bowl.

Without much time left in Kobe, I decided to squeeze in another bowl. Kitanozaka Oku (北野坂 奥) is a relatively new shop that has been moving up the rankings.

Specializing in Tsukemen, it’s similar to the Gyokai Tonkotsu style that has been popularized in Tokyo.

The soup was a bit sour, from too much katsuobushi, and the noodles were lacking a good chew. Most likely because they were made without kansui.

The layout of the kitchen, however, was impressive. I may try and copy this one day.

Otsukaresama!!!

Dinner time!!!

Bokkake Udon.

Curry Udon.

Okay I think I’m full now. Thank you so much Ueyama-san and family!! Good luck with the shop! 頑張ってください!

18 again…

Day 1149:

10 hours, 9 transfers, Kobe here I come!

Seishun 18 Kippu

Sure I could have saved a lot of time going by Shinkansen, but this is a lot more fun. And a lot cheaper.

Mt. Fuji!!

On my way I stopped in Shizuoka for lunch at Menya Tsubame (麺屋 燕) in Shimada. This may look like an ordinary house from the outside…

But it’s actually the most popular ramen shop in the area. And this is peak lunch hour.

Tsubame Shoyu Ramen (燕ラーメン しょうゆ).

There’s something eerily familiar about this ramen. I just can’t pinpoint it. Anyway, it was pretty good except for a slight bitterness coming from the chicken soup.

Back on the road. You know you’re not in Tokyo anymore when the sidewalks are also rivers.

Snow! It didn’t last long.

So I made it. A little over 11 hours and a little drama with one train losing power and being stranded but I made it. Hello Kobe!! Hello Shoki Ramen House in Kobe!!!

Time to unwind.

Otsukaresama!

Gyoza.

Oden.

Yudofu.

Handmade Udon!

Thank you Ueyama-san!! Looking forward to the soft-open tomorrow!!!

And now it’s time to study…Kansai ramen!

I know just where I’m going for breakfast.

Ramen santa…

Day 1148:

Wishing you a warm and happy holidays from Go Ramen!

I hope the ramen santa came to your house too.

Because he came to mine. 😉

Xmas dinner!!

Italian style.

Pizza.

And pasta.

Now time to get some rest for a long day of traveling tomorrow. I’ll be heading to Kobe in the morning using the seishun 18 kippu. 10 hours. It shall be fun!