Sunday, 14 August 2016

Taishoken. Before Tsukemen, there was Mori Soba

Char Shu Mori Soba. 1100 Yen
Summers in Japan can reach dangerous levels (up to 38 degrees Celsius), but that doesn't stop its people from finding ways to enjoy their food. A steaming bowl of ramen with piping hot soup is not the best way to enjoy a bowl of noodles in the sweltering heat, hence the need for Tsukemen arises.

Back in 1955, Kazuo Yamigishi, owner of the legendary Taishoken, would eat noodles with leftover broth and soy sauce for staff meals in his days as a kitchen apprentice. It sparked the inspiration and birth of the Tsukemen as we know it today. Yamigishi christened his new creation "Mori Soba" and it became an instant success. Passing away on 1st April 2015, the pioneer of Tsukemen left behind a legacy spanning over 100 restaurants all over Japan and a dish which still continues to evolve to this day.

The heart of a bowl of Ramen lies in its soup. But for Tsukemen it is an entirely different ball game altogether. Consisting of 2 separate components, both the broth and noodles must be able to stand on its own and at the same time not disrupt their symbiotic relationship in order to create a flavourful yet balanced dish.

For starters, noodles are usually served cold and are thicker than your average ramen. The texture of noodles hold high importance as it must be nicely chewy and be able to hold the broth as it is dipped. The taste of the noodle without the broth is also what separates a normal Tsukemen from an exceptional one.

The broth is served hot and is a heavily reduced version of the normal soup base and may consist of additional ingredients such as bonito powder, shrimp oil and scallions. Ingredients used for the soup stock can vary from beef bones, pork, leek and many others which the chef deem fit.

Mori Soba. 800 yen
The process to eat this is simple. Take some noodles with your chopsticks, mix it well inside the bowl of broth and slurp it (ala soba). The shape of Taishoken's noodles are made specifically for the broth to cling onto them. The contrast in temperature is a pleasant sensation, and each chew releases intense flavours of the broth which has been on a rolling boil for hours.
The well-marbled char siew is grilled on a pan before being topped onto a noodles which lends a rich, smoky fragrance to the Tsukemen also.

Tsukemen is perfect for any occasion, but enjoyed especially in summer. Bringing chewy, faintly sweet noodles together with a well-seasoned intense broth you can't get enough of, it's one of those fine food pairings in life.

Taishoken (Narita Branch)
88 Wing Tsuchiya, Narita, Chiba Prefecture
+81 476-29-4868

Nearest Station: JR Narita.

Operating Hours:
Open Daily
Lunch: 1100 to 1500 (L.O 1430)
Dinner: 1800 to 0200

Link to their website.

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