Japan's typical diet includes not only rice but also noodle dishes with a wide variety of soba, udon, ramen, pasta, etc. Ramen is made with wheat flour, water, and salt. That mixture is kneaded together into a dough, then rolled, cut, and steamed. There is a crucial ingredient, a type of alkaline water, 'Kansui,' that makes ramen different from any other type of noodles with its springy texture. Ramen noodle is served in a meat or fish-based tasty broth often flavored with soy sauce, miso, or salt.
The biggest difference between tsukemen and ramen is that soup and noodles are served in different containers; the boiled noodles are washed with cold running water. Traditionally, the process of dipping noodles such as soba and udon noodles in noodle sauce was called "tsukemen". In recent years, eating ramen noodles dipped in the soup has become a trend, and there are many tsukemen shops popping up around Japan.
In Tokyo's ramen street, there is a tsukemen shop called Rokurinsha. Tokyo's ramen street is conveniently located in the 'basement' of Tokyo station. Eight of Tokyo’s top ramen shops from different genres are gathered there. The motto of Tokyo's ramen street is ‘never get tired of going through a week.’ There is a traditional soy-sauce based ramen shop, a pork broth ramen shop, a miso ramen shop, a clear salt soup ramen shop and a vegetarian ramen shop which also offers vegan and gluten-free menus. You can enjoy the pride of each shop, with a particular focus on noodles, soups, and toppings. Rokurinsha is the only shop that offers tsukemen in Tokyo's ramen street.
Since ramen has been typically known as a noodle soup, Rokurinsha has created a new page in the Japanese ramen culture. Tsukemen now became a part of the modern ramen culture. A super-concentrated soup is made by boiling a large number of ingredients for a long time. In the end, the craftsmen squeeze the material until it loses its shape, and then tap all the flavor. It is a blissful moment when Rokurinsha’s straight, thick noodles get entwined in the super-rich broth soup, which is based on animal-based ingredients: pork bones, chicken bones, as well as seafood options from bonito fracks to dried sardines. Enjoy the change of taste by melting the fish meal on the seaweed little by little.
Unlike ramen, tsukemen is prepared with boiled noodles washed with cold water: they are served on a separate plate. Usually, Tsukemen noodles are served cold, but at Rokurinsha, they can also be served warm. The characteristic of warm tsukemen noodles is that the original wheat scent of noodles is enhanced. After you finish eating noodles, you can enjoy the remaining soup by adding the soup stock: fish soup and yuzu. Just ask the friendly staff for the “soup wari” (soup split). You can enjoy till the last drop of soup.
At Rokurinsha, you have to buy a ticket at the vending machine at the entrance. All menus on the vending machines are not written in English but are shown with photos. Before purchasing the ticket, you will be given a printed menu in Japanese and English with pictures of each dish. Once you purchase your ticket, find a seat for yourself. Staff comes to pick up the ticket from your table, and a few minutes later, your tsukemen will be in front of you. Do not forget to buy tickets for extra toppings at the vending machine, as you cannot request extra toppings verbally afterward. The half-cooked, tasty marinated egg is one of the must-try additional toppings.
There are so many ramen shops all over Japan. Tokyo's ramen street could be one of the most convenient ones of all, as it is located inside the Tokyo station. Rokurinsha's uniqueness stands out within the Tokyo ramen street and within the general tsukemen culture of Japan. Enjoy this modern style ramen 'tsukemen' in the authentic atmosphere of Rokurinsha.
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