Late last year, Ippudo (一風堂) conducted an in-house ramen development competition. The winner of the contest was a Hakata Black Curry Ramen, which the general public can now try at Ippudo stores across the country for a limited time only. I finally got the chance to try it earlier today, and it was delicious.
This past Sunday, I checked out the Tokyo Food Festival which was held a short walk away from Tokyo Station, in the Maranouchi district. The festival was hosted by Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries to “proclaim the merits of Japanese food,” according to the official English language literature. And what better way to proclaim the glory of your national cuisine than a multi-block street fair with various booths showcasing food products from across Japan, a national contest of local dishes, and sake tasting.
Whenever I take friends and family from out of town for ramen, I often go to my old standby: Ippudo. It’s great, reliable tonkotsu ramen that is validated by my local Japanese friends, and their various branches are nice places to hang out. But my friend and big time foodie BT has always been a big advocate for one of Ippudo’s rivals – Ichiran (一蘭). Ichiran provides one of the most unusual ramen experiences you could have in Japan.
Just about everyone who visits Tokyo goes to Harajuku. Like Ginza, Akihabara and Shibuya, it’s one of those neighborhoods that is synonymous with Tokyo. It’s the pulsating center of Japanese youth culture, the place to go for checking out the latest street fashion, people watching (what’s up with all the girls dressed like they’re going to a Little Bo Peep convention?), and eating crepes.
Wait… did you say crepes? As in those super thin pancakes invented by the French?