Saturday, November 28, 2009

Aoshima Ramen

Jalan-jalan cari ramen.
Those who know me well should know that I am quite a big fan of Japanese ramen.
So far, I have tasted ramen from quite a number of regions around Japan; from Nagaoka's best ramen of Ichidon, to a few types of ramen in Hokkaido. Besides Ichidon in Nagaoka, there are several other restaurants which serve great ramen as well, like Shimizu Ramen (しみずラーメン) and Hamanoya (濱之家). However, of so many ramen I have tasted so far, Ippudo remains my favourite place for a bowl of ramen.
Miyauchi Station on the left, and Aoshima Ramen is on the right.
Aoshima Shokudou (青島食堂).
Recently, I got to know another well-known ramen restaurant in Nagaoka - Aoshima Ramen (青島ラーメン).
The restaurant is located just in front of Miyauchi Station, which is just one station away from Nagaoka Station. I had a sudden urge to have ramen this afternoon and decided to try out the ramen from Aoshima to see whether it lives up to its name, and also to see if it could match Ippudo's ramen.
Like most ramen restaurants, they have this vending machine outside.

I was kinda surprise at the limited choices of ramen (pink label), which has only two (Aoshima Ramen and Aoshima Char Siew) to choose from.
When I was there, there were already quite a number of customers inside the restaurant. However, by the time I entered the restaurant, they had finished their ramen leaving me as the sole customer in the restaurant.
However, I soon noticed three workers were busy setting up their camera and lights for some shooting session. From my guess, they should be from some TV station, working on some documentary on famous ramen around Japan. Seeing that people came to this restaurant to make a coverage on their ramen made me thought, "The ramen here must be something special, otherwise who would wanna take the trouble to come all the way to this small town just to shoot picture of a bowl of ramen".
One of the workers, setting up the lighting before the shooting session began.
The coupon and the iced water served while waiting for my bowl of ramen.
That, indirectly increased my expectations for the bowl of ramen I was gonna get soon.
The concept and layout of this restaurant is just like most of other common restaurant in Japan. There is a long bar top whereby the customers will sit in one row and the cooking process is done right in front of the customers and they can have a good view of it. One thing I like about dining in such restaurant is that we can see the whole preparation process of the dish.
The interior of the restaurant.
Adding soy sauce, salt and other ingredients into the bowl.
They are so precise that the noodles has to be weighed.
By the way, look at the giant cover on the wall.
Boiled noodles taken out before being tossed and put into the bowl.
While I was paying attention at the cooking process, I looked to my left and the restaurant was full already even though it was almost three already.
Sometimes, the queue can get really long that people have to line up outside the restaurant. Although there are only about fifteen seats in the restaurant, the service is relatively fast and I didn't have to wait long before I get my bowl of ramen.
The ramen served in Aoshima is the 醤油ラーメン (shoyu ramen) or soy sauce-based ramen. Personally, I prefer 塩ラーメン (shio ramen) or salt-based ramen. There are two types of ramen served here - 青島ラーメン (Aoshima Ramen) and 青島チャーシュー (Aoshima Char Siew). For my first visit here, I ordered the latter.
青島チャーシュー (Aoshima Char Siew) - ¥700.
The soup has a strong and distinguish taste of ginger. Apparently, they use some chemical flavouring in the process of making the soup, but it is not a problem for consumption.
The topping among others are scallion, spinach, seaweed (nori), kamaboko, menma, and of course, char siew.
The noodle was okay, but not the best I have tasted.
A closer look at the char siew.
Unfortunately, the char siew was way below my expectation. It was not cut nicely, but that was not my main concern. The fact that it just tasted like other normal char siew was quite a disappointment. It was kinda hard and chewy and there was some pork smell remaining on the char siew. To cover that up, I added some pepper to my bowl of ramen. Nevertheless, the fats in some parts of the char siew made the texture soft and it was not bad.
Overall, I am quite curious why this restaurant is considered a restaurant that serves one of the best ramen in Nagaoka. Personally, I find it just average and there are still other better ones like Shimizu Ramen and Hamanoya.
To make up for my disappointment, I went to do some groceries on my way home. But guess who I saw?
Early Christmas wish for everyone.

Poor reindeer; I don't know if it is on diet, or Papa Santa didn't feed it enough haha.


Kae Vin said...

well, sometimes things can get overrated.

and the santa himself needs to put on some weight too. How can he feed the reindeer if like that?

=chuan guan= said...

ramen in japan just like wantan mee in malacca..muahaha

mylittleoctopus said...

This is a very nice blog :)

calvin said...

@ kae vin:
almost everything in japan, especially the food often gets over-rated =.=

perhaps, both are on diet haha xD

calvin said...

@ =chuan guan=:
ramen and wantan mee is like two totally different things.

~Live Life~ said...

Or maybe the perception of taste is different...and you expectation is much much higher...

As the saying "beauty is in the eyes of the beholder" holds..."taste is in the tongue of the beholder" should hold too...

Hope you can find the true, best Ramen in your Ramenquest! =)

calvin said...

@ ~live life~:
i guess after tasting the ramen from ippudo, my standard when having a bowl of ramen has gone up too much lol!

anyway, it was just my personal opinion and other people might find aoshima ramen delicious :)

and yes, i am still going around to try new ramen on every opportunity that comes =D

D-Tourist said...

A hot bowl of ramen soup on a cold day in autumn/winter is match made in heaven. Dun u agree?

calvin said...

@ d-tourist:
yes, indeed! but for a ramen lover like me, serve me ramen at any season of the year and i will never say no xD