Lately, I've been noticing an influx of Japanese ramen shops opening up around town. I for one, love to eat ramen, and the weather, which has been rainy and quite dreary, makes it a perfect time to eat ramen. Since I live in town, and because I'm at the mall quite often, I've been driving past Taishoken for quite sometime now.
Taishoken, according to this post at World Ramen.net, is famous for its tsukemen (morisoba). I won't go into more details about the history of this dish, but from what I've read, it's supposed to be quite delicious.
Walking through the door, you'll notice a room enclosed in glass on the left.
This is where the ramen noodles and gyoza skins are made fresh daily.
The dining area was not too crowded when I entered. Just a couple at the counter area and a few people scattered amongst 2 tables.
Since the tsukemen is a specialty of this ramen shop, I decided to have the regular miso tsukemen with mini char siu rice combo (US$8.30).
With this type of ramen the noodles are served separately from the broth. To eat, you'd dip the cold noodles into the hot broth. This made it a challenge to eat, but it was also quite fun. I'd never had to eat ramen this way before. The noodles were very fresh. Slightly chewy and a bit "springy", they tasted great with the miso flavored broth.
Inside the bowl of broth, there were bits of pork, kamaboko (fish cake), nori (dried seaweed) and menma (pickled bamboo shoots). The broth was then garnished with lots of white sesame seeds and green onions. The broth, while flavorful, tasty and a bit spicy (from some chili that was floating around as well), was a bit too concentrated for me to sip on it's own. Much of it was left after the noodles were gone.
The char siu rice was wonderful. The homemade char siu, or barbecued pork, was lean and tender. Unlike the char siu that is served at Chinese restaurants, this one was mildly flavored and tasted more of shoyu. This was also topped with a healthy sprinkling of white sesame seeds and green onions. Delicious!
Since I was dining between the hours of 2:00 pm and 6:00 pm, I was also given 3 pieces of fresh, homemade gyoza at no addtional charge! What a surprise.
The gyoza was cooked in the traditional method and took a bit longer to arrive at the table. The skin was perfectly smooth and thin, the filling meaty and delicious. My only wish was that it was fried a little longer before being "steamed". I normally like it when the bottom of the gyoza is crisp and crunchy. Otherwise, this was much better than most.
All in all, this was quite an interesting meal. The tsukemen was interesting enough, and tasty enough, for me to want to have this again. The regular sized portion was served with a lot of noodles which went perfectly with the flavorful broth. The mini char siu rice was great and the gyoza was a nice way to round out the meal.
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