Saturday, November 28, 2009

Aoshima Ramen

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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.
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Miyauchi Station on the left, and Aoshima Ramen is on the right.
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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.
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Like most ramen restaurants, they have this vending machine outside.

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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".
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One of the workers, setting up the lighting before the shooting session began.
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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.
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The interior of the restaurant.
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Adding soy sauce, salt and other ingredients into the bowl.
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They are so precise that the noodles has to be weighed.
By the way, look at the giant cover on the wall.
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Boiled noodles taken out before being tossed and put into the bowl.
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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.
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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.
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The noodle was okay, but not the best I have tasted.
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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?
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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.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

NCCT College Festival 2009

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"Hypernova" was the theme for Nagaoka National College of Technology (NNCT) College Festival this year. At least the name they picked this time sounds better than the previous year, when they chose the theme "Butterfly". The college festival this year known as 高志祭 (Koshisai) is extra special because it is held once every three years. In terms of the number of events held, they are bigger and more than normal and besides that, they held the festival for three consecutive days, instead of just two days.
This is also one of the rational of picking "Hypernova" as the theme of the college festival this year, as they wanna make the festival this year the biggest and most exciting one.
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The traditional event for the festival - mochi (rice cake) pounding.
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They have a maid to supervise the boy with the wooden mortar.

I have blogged twice about the college festival for the past two years and basically, they are similar to each other. However, since this is gonna be my final year in the college, I will do it for one last time because I have a strong sentimental attached to this place haha.
One of the new events introduced this year was Mr Kosen contest. It is a competition in search of the most cool guy in the college, and also the opposite of Mr Lady Contest. In other words, it is the guy's version of beauty pageant.
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One of the contestant being interviewed during the competition.
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All seven contestants including the one (most right) who went up there wearing a mask haha.

Initially, I thought they look for appearance when picking the winner for this contest, but I later found out that it is more to a talent search contest, in which you display your talent (dancing, singing, basketball skills, etc) to the crowd, and you have a few friends who would go up the stage to campaign for you and the crowd would vote for the winner.
One of the contestants performed an energetic dance with his friends and he was quite a joker as well; so as expected, he was the winner of this contest.
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Flea Market was held in one of the classrooms.
Basically, all stuff here, which are second-hands are sold at super low prices.
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Computer monitors from the ice age.
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CD for anime freaks.
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Used clothes.
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Soft toys, in which Stitch dominated most of the stuff in this corner.
Freedom Street is also one of the regular corner at the college festival. Just like the name itself suggests, it is a space where students are free to display their art masterpieces here. However, the standard of the art this year had dropped significantly from what I saw two years ago.
There was one booth, where they only placed an empty table there. I have no idea whether they couldn't finish their work in time, or that is what their creation is all about haha.
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The entrance to Freedom Street.
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Llama, imported from the Andes haha.
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I am quite sure this came from a Gundam fan.
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Rome was not built in one day, but I destroyed this model in a few seconds haha.
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Whatever, haha!
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Sheep made of cotton wool.
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More sheep, suitable for people who suffers from insomnia. Can count these sheep before they sleep haha.
Beside the Freedom Street was the display of the art work from the Art Club. I am quite impressed with this gear model which was made from cardboard. It was built with the highest precision although I am unsure whether it could move.
But still, it was an impressive work.
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Gear model by Komi Taku.
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Fancy a taste of Jack O Lantern?
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Paper lamp.
Besides the exhibition of art works, there were performances as well.
For example, the brass band team who performed in front of the library. Too bad it was raining for most of the time during the college festival; otherwise they would have performed outside the building and I bet there would be more people who would watch them perform.
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Brass band from the Music Club. Sui Pian would love this for sure haha!
One of the main highlights of the college festival would be the stage play by each faculty.
Each team has started practising several months earlier and you just cannot disregard the effort they gave to make sure the play is a successful one. I didn't watch all five plays as I only watched the one by the Mechanical Engineering faculty. As expected, the storyline was a light comedy type and not those with heavy theme that will take forever to figure out the story haha.
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There was one boy, who liked his senior very much.
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He was one of the nerd ones in his class and always bullied by other students.
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One day, that senior saw him emoing and she talked to him.
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He got a swimming suit from her (why swimming suit, I also dunno haha).
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This boy got to know a creature and it taught him some superpower to make him a stronger guy.
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After that incident in the forest, he turned so strong that he could crush an apple with just one hand.
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He turned the hero by saving that senior who was kidnapped by the naughty students.
And they lived happily ever after. The end.
But it was not the end of this entry. Visitors to the college festivals are also invited to enter the chemistry lab to try on a few interesting experiments. This is my first time entering that lab, and it certainly reminded me of the awkward times when I used to mixed the wrong chemicals when I did my experiments in high school haha.
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This time, we got to make artificial ikura (salmon roe).
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Drop the coloured chemical into water.
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And they would turned into round balls which looked like the salmon roe you eat in sushi restaurants.
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Somehow, they looked like tang yuan haha.
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Next was making slime.
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They look like jelly but non-edible.

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Mixed the bleach with some chemicals, stirred it a while and we got jelly.
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We got to play with water bubbles too haha.
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A demonstration on how the colours in fireworks are produced.
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Different chemicals produce different colour.
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Like Deepavali, right? Haha.
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By inserting the balloon into liquid form of nitrogen, the air in the balloon would turn into liquid form.
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One litre of liquid nitrogen cost 220yen (RM7).
Of so many events held during the college festival, there is one which everyone look forward to - the food stalls. This year, the Malaysians in NNCT decided to open a stall again since we made quite a huge profit last year haha.
That however, will come in the next entry.
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Food stalls.
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Here is a sneak preview of the next entry.
Till then, froggie and Miss Maid bid farewell.