Is there an attractive way to slurp up noods?
Aaaaaaah. The last day of ramenfest. Our last day in Tokyo. What am I going to do without my daily bowl of sodium and carby goodness once I go back home!? Sure, there’s ramen there. But it just won’t be the same.
Thanks to a message from Ivan of Ivan Ramen (coming soon to NYC and we just happennnnn to be moving nearby), we had to make an extremely difficult decision: do we spend our last day of ramen eating at the place we couldn’t stop thinking about, Kyushu Jangara, or do we change it up for, well, you! Do I selfishly please my taste buds or take the risk?
Thankfully, we realized that taking a risk in Tokyo isn’t really taking a risk at all. This country. This food. These people. Everything is wonderful. There aren’t too many risks. It’s hard to be displeased here, it really is.
And so we did it. After a quick google search of 3 ramen places recommended by Ivan, we decided upon…
Okay I’ve never gotten to set up anything suspenseful let me do this please…
What intrigued me most about this place was that all the write-ups on all sorts of different blogs said the same thing: while most think of ramen as ultra-savory, milky, porky, greasy, rich (I could go on forever here) tonkotsu ramen, there is also a huge love of a lighter broth. While I could say that right now, I can’t imagine EVER being over tonkotsu ramen, I’d imagine that the heaviness of it would get a little old if you actually lived here.
Every reviewer of Afuri had one similar take: They LOVE milky ramen. But Afuri is a wonderfully nice change.
I wish I could go into more detail about this ramen, but…well look…
Since ordering upfront, and ordering from machines is so common here, all the blogs failed to tell me that this is what we would walk into. And with no line ahead of us, we were completely, utterly lost. Finally, another couple walked in and we memorized their ordering process: money first, make choice, hit black button, take change, more money, make another choice, hit black button, take tickets to waiter.
AH! All the pictures are the same and I have no clue what any of this says, nor is anyone around that could tell me.
I could understand the word “HOT!!” though. So we went with the two HOT!! options. Hot here in Japan is nothing like the hot I’m used to. I have NEVER had anything too spicy, EVER. I’ve tried. The closest I’ve come was once asking the people in The Boiling Shrimp to make my crab “VERY THAI SPICY”. That, was unbelievably hot but I still couldn’t stop. I wish I had photos of what happened to my face upon eating that crab. John can do a pretty good reenactment of it — I basically lost all control of half my face. I would smile and ask, “am i doin it, am i smiling?” to which John would say, “no. oh my god no”. My eyes twitched, the sides of my mouth were waterfalls. It was perfect.
One of the most alluring things about this place was their famed “char siu” — a slice of pork that is grilled for about a minute over charcoal flames. Our ramen, whatever it was, included this, along with the typical toppings of bamboo shoots, greens and nori.
Something I read said that Afuri uses water specially collected from the wells of Mount Afuri in Kanagawa (hence the name) for their soup. They also offer two different thicknesses of noodle, one of which being a little chewier than the other. If I could read this option, I would have tried. But my lack of Japanese has failed you all!
The broth was fantastic. I *believe*, oh god, please don’t quote me, they use a chicken-based broth but I could also taste something a little fishier as well in there. Perhaps it was just the seaweed? Either way, it was definitely lighter than what I’m used to, but for what it was? A-PLUS. I would definitely be happy with a place like this around town.
^John’s “Kyushu Jangara is better” face^
My bowl. I dunno, man. It was pretty close for me.
I really loved Afuri. It felt a bit younger and hipper (wow nothing makes you sound older than using these words) than the other places we had ventured to, but that could also be because it was Saturday…hmmmm. Not to mention the smell (and smoke) of that char siu filled the air as we ate. God, I love it.
So there you have it. Our ramen adventures have come to a close. Was nice to share our holiday with you guys : )
Heading back to the Americas today — bittersweet. Will miss it here but also excited to get back home and see the pups and get back to work.
Hope your holidays (THEY AREN’T OVER UNTIL NEW YEAR’S OKAY) are filled with food, family and fun. And alcohol, if you’re of age of course (whatev)