Afuri: YUZURATAN RAMEN

Place: Afuri

Address: 3 Chome-63-1 Sendagaya, 渋谷区 Tokyo 151-0051, Japan

Website: http://afuri.com/

Ramen: Soy sauce based soup with a sophisticated blend of chili spice, garlic & yuzu citrus.

Price: ¥1230

A lovely little joint deep in the heart of Tokyo which always has a line and offers a unique bowl of ramen. What’s makes Afuri a nice change of pace is their liberal use of Yuzu citrus that creates a light, fresh & vibrant bowl of soup. The excellent egg and tasty chashu are still present but the liveliness of the broth cuts through the fat leaving you satisfied yet not overly full. I opted for the Yazuratan Ramen which adds a little chili & garlic heat to the soy-based Citrus broth and that extra level of flavor really brought it to life in my opinion.

I was extremely please with my ramen at Afuri, the zing of the citrus mixed with the fresh ingredients and a hint of spice made for a completely unique bowl to enjoy. I can see this being an absolute winner on those muggy hot Tokyo summer nights!

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SCORE: rating_3

Nojo Ramen Tavern: CHICKEN PAITAN SOY SAUCE RAMEN

Place: Nojo Ramen Tavern

Address: 231 Franklin St, San Francisco, CA 94102

Website: http://nojosf.com/

Ramen: Chicken Paitan Soy Sauce Ramen. Whole slow-braised Chicken leg, blackened Garlic Oil, Nira Chives, red & green onions, dashi egg, fish powder, fried gobo ($18.5) + spice bomb ($1.5)

Price: $20

For those of you who have not read Matt’s review of his meal at NOJO posted below, do so now. We both ate there on the same day, at different times and ordered different things but like Matt, mine was most excellent and this is now my #1 Favorite ramen joint in the Bay Area.

I’ve had Nojo recommended to me by a few folks and I am happy to say that those recommendations were correct. The food is incredible and their ramen is god-tier. I know what you are thinking… chicken ramen? No Tonkotu? Wont that be weak and light. Nope. It’s rich! It’s powerful! It’s flavorful! It’s a must try!

Located in Hayes Valley near City Hall, Nojo is always busy. We got there 15 minutes before it opened and there was already a line. We perused the menu , which all looked excellent, but I knew what I was having before I even sat down, the highly recommended CHICKEN PAITAN SOY SAUCE RAMEN. According to the menu, this chicken/soy based ramen comes with a whole slow-braised chicken leg (what?), blackened garlic oil, green onions & a dashi egg! Now, before the main event, we had some amazing appies: Spicy Chicken Fritters, Yuzu Miso Cucumbers, salted Combu Celery and Tofu & Avocado Salad, all of them were fresh & flavorful and highly enjoyable but enough of that, what about the ramen? Well, what greeted me was a steaming bowl of top-tier excellence.

To tell you how good  this bowl of ramen is, I ate everything! Every noodle, every chive, every last drop of broth. Usually I have a few spoons left over because I just can’t fit anymore into my belly but this time, no way was I going to waste this absolute goodness. The chicken leg was fantastic, crispy skin, “fall of the bone” succulent meat that popped the already flavorful broth into the stratosphere. The fresh mix of onions & chives balanced the richness of the bowl perfectly, the noodles were thick and held the broth well and finally the egg was perfect. Despite its high price tag and daunting giant leg of chicken, this was a 5 star bowl of ramen and one that I have no problem recommending as one of the best bowls of ramen outside of Japan.

My wife tried their spicier CHICKEN PAITAN TAN-TAN SPICY MISO RAMEN which was equally delicious, rich, spicy hot with an amazing hit of sesame, I would heartily recommend that one as well. And based on Matt’s love of the TOMATO PAITAN discussed below, Nojo obviously has three amazing bowls worth experiencing so do yourself a favor and get there for a great visit to flavor town! You won’t be disappointed.

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SCORE: rating_5

Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop: SPICY RED CHILI RAMEN (NYC)

Address: 600 11th Ave, NYC, 10036

Website: http://www.ivanramen.com/en/slurp-shop/

Ramen: Spicy Red Chili Ramen ($14) w. additional Soft Egg (free)

Price: $14

REVIEW: Located within the Gotham West Market, the Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop is diner-style ramen at it’s best, you sit at the counter, watch the cooks whip up their noodley magic and voila, a bowl of steaming goodness is yours to enjoy. I opted for the SPICY RED CHILI RAMEN which states it’s a “7.5 out of 10 on the heat scale”, sounds perfect to me. While the bowl I was presented was smaller than anticipated, the broth spice level was indeed perfect, a good heat that caused a sweat but I could still taste other flavors. What I really enjoyed about this bowl was the inclusion of Rye Noodles, that gave the ramen a unique bite and texture, I really liked it and thought that it raised the overall game of the dish. The ground pork was great but I was disappointed with the egg, one was flavorless, while the other was cold. I would definitely come back to try another dish if I was in the area but if you are looking for a spicy little number to curb your lunchtime hunger without putting you to sleep afterwards, the SPICY RED CHILI RAMEN might be for you… just don’t go for the additional egg.

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SCORE: rating_3