Ramen

My Night Out In Tokyo

We met up in Hachiko statue in Shibuya

We met up in Hachiko statue in Shibuya

While vacationing in Tokyo, my wife approached my son Ken and said, “Why don’t you show Papa the Tokyo nightlife?”  Since my son knows Shibuya well we decided to meet there by the Hachiko statue.  He was to show us the places where he hangs out and since he was on a student budget, I figured that he would know all the bargain places and it wouldn’t cost much

Our first stop was his first choice for ramen but unfortunately it was full. So we went to his second favorite ramen place and had some garlic ramen which tasted like adobo to me. The garlic ramen and gyoza were good and we all came out satisfied.  At that point my wife bade goodbye and went home by herself by train. Not to worry – Japan is super-safe and women have nothing to worry about.

So now enough of the sissy stuff. Bring out the hard stuff! Since it was still Happy Hour, Ken and I went to an expat bar which served a tall glass of Craft Beer for under Y1000. We tried two kinds of craft beer and then proceeded to our next stop. Everything is walking distance so not much time is wasted. Our second watering hole had an offer for Y2000 ($20 or P880) with all-you-can-drink for 2 hours. Since I was full with the ramen and 2 craft beers, I thought I should drink hot sake (rice wine). Sake has a higher alcohol content than beer but it’s ok. This is once in a blue moon anyway. And I forgot to mention that part of the deal was we had to order three appetizers. Overall it was a good deal and I was already buzzed but we weren’t done yet!

Adobo Ramen in Shibuya With Ken

Adobo Ramen in Shibuya With Ken

For our last watering hole, we went to a karaoke bar. I don’t know how much it cost but the deal was we get one big glass of soda for free. Before we went in, my son ran to the convenience store across the street and bought cheap whiskey and put it inside his knapsack. At this point, I was really woozy. We stayed in that karaoke bar for about one and a half hours (so I was told) and I remember singing only 2 songs! Ken was singing Tagalog songs to my amazement. This joint had no playbook. You have to know the song title or artist. And it was pretty high tech!

So I had my soda and my buzz and all I remembered was that the taste of my soda kept on getting worse and worse. What I didn’t know was that when I wasn’t looking, my son would pour some whiskey! Funny at my expense, of course! No wonder I was wobbly walking to the train station and hotel.

After that it was all a haze. Suffice it to say I made it ok all the way to the room. My son gave me a Japanese anti-hangover drink but since I was really buzzed, I forgot to drink it and water as well. I think I had a hangover for the next two days but it wasn’t something I couldn’t handle. I remember my wife saying, “Ken, what did you do to your papa? He can’t remember anything!” Of course my son said “What did I do?” with that feigned innocent look. But everything was cool. I like these bang-for-the-buck promos even if it had cost me more than just money if you know what I mean. Looking forward to another night of adventure next time I visit Tokyo. Oyasuminasai!

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My Ippudo Experience In Tokyo

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I read recently in Spot.ph that Ippudo is coming to the Philippines on September 10 and opening its first branch in MegaMall Fashion Hall. That’s great news! I loved the Ramen and Gyoza which I tried in their Tokyo branch and I would like to narrate how I got there.

On one Saturday afternoon, my wife, Ken and I decided to have a late lunch somewhere in Harajuku. So we took the Yamanote train from Shinjuku, went down in Harajuku, and walked down for about a kilometer to a still-developing, American-looking part of Tokyo. Ken’s first choice of restaurant was a Gyoza place but there was a long line outside which surprised me because it was already 2:30pm. Maybe it was a weekend so people eat a late breakfast and also a late lunch. Then we went to an American BBQ place which was packed with expats having a party. At that point I was willing to eat anywhere. Normally I eat between 12-1pm and I could feel myself getting hungry…and cranky! image

So my son tells me, “There is an Ippudo nearby. Just walk up the hill a bit.” At that point I was sold! So we walk up the hill. Yeah, nearby meaning another kilometer uphill! We walk up the Omotesando shopping mall – thank God we didn’t even stop to look because stores were super high-end! Every corner we passed I would look left and right and ask, “Where’s Ippudo?” When we finally hit the main road, we turned left and walked another 200 meters. Finally we made it . . . but it looked closed! No one seemed to be inside. Anyway, I was so hungry since it was already 3pm, I go in and there were waiters and cooks waiting. Ok, let’s see what the hype is all about.

Since I love Tantanmen, my son ordered for me and him a relatively spicy Ramen. My wife had the usual Tonkotsu Ramen. We also ordered the Gyoza and it was excellent! We ordered one more. It was my first time to see garlic, sesame seed and pickles to add taste to the Ramen. In my hunger, I ate the pickles already while they were still ordering and I even ate the raw garlic (since I love garlic) and this made my family laugh. “Why? What did I do?” I asked. “You are supposed to crush the garlic on top of the Ramen, not eat it raw!” Oh well, you learn something everyday.

Ramen came and it didn’t disappoint. Everything was excellent! Broth, noodles, pork. I don’t remember being asked choices to customize my Ramen but what I ate tasted good. I told my family I wanted to eat here again on our next trip to Tokyo but next time, we should go down the nearest train station. If people used to walk a mile for a Camel, I can walk a mile for Ippudo if I really have to. Hehe

So I’m eagerly awaiting the opening of Ippudo in MegaMall. Well, not really eagerly because I don’t want to wait in line. Let’s see how it goes. When Ippudo comes in, the food has to be impressive because Ramen Nagi has just set the bar for Ramen chains. Having tried both, I can give my two cents worth but I will reserve further comments until I try the local Ippudo.