Ramen: My new favourite food

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Odawara noodles are the best Ntendeni has ever had. Odawara, 2017.

I cannot believe that for the first five months I lived in Japan, I did not care for noodles. I used to wonder why in the world Japanese people would queue in the heat just for a bowl of noodles. Who queues for a bowl of noodles though?

Growing up in South Africa, the only noodles I knew were instant Maggi noodles which were associated with student struggles. Noodles where I come from are seen as last-minute, lazy meals or affordable meals which are the last resort during tough student financial struggles. Normally, people add water, boil the noodles in the microwave, drain excess water, pour the seasoning packet from the pack and eat. Noodles were always the one meal I hated.

After coming to Japan, I realised that they had a ramen restaurant  culture. Never in my entire existence did I think I would pay money just for a bowl of noodles or pay someone to cook it for me. Never would I associate noodles with skill. I never thought there would be people out there trained to make noodles! They even have ramen schools!

But the noodles in Japan are not from the microwave. They cook them properly and have different varieties. They also come in various broths, seasonings and meat. They are also varied from the thickest to the thinnest. I did not know that such a simple ingredient as noodles would go a long way into making a proper meal.

Thanks to the Tokyo Skytree disappointment on new year’s eve that led me to try my first bowl of noodles. I have never looked back ever since. I now go around hunting amazing noodles. One day, I spent maybe 30 minutes to an hour hunting noodles in Koshigaya. I am addicted!

Odawara ramen

The best noodles I have ever eaten are from Odawara, a town 35 minutes away from Tokyo by bullet train. This is where I began and ended my golden week with a bowl of noodles. When I order noodles, I always order the biggest bowl and choose the thickest noodles, the deepest and oiliest broth, the most seasonings and the most meat. When it comes to ramen, I want the best and I want it all.

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Ntendeni began her golden week with a bowl of ramen. Odawara, 2017.

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Ntendeni will now judge all ramen on the scale of one to Odawara. Odawara, 2017.

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Ntendeni always orders ramen with the most meat.

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The bowl of oily ramen that closed off Ntendeni’s first golden week in Japan.

Koshigaya ramen

The first bowl of ramen I ordered in Koshigaya did not leave me satisfied. I found it too watery and the bowl too shallow. I was still having a hangover from Odawara ramen.

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The noodles were not oily enough and the meat was too little for Ntendeni. Koshigaya, 2017.

After searching again, I finally found a decent bowl of ramen in Koshigaya. It exceeded my expectations.

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After spending more than 30 minutes hunting down ramen, Ntendeni finally found a good bowl in Koshigaya. Koshigaya, 2017.

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The broth and the ramen came in separate bowls.

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Eggs, seaweed, pork and noodles in one dish? A combination unthinkable to a South African.

Konosu ramen

I enjoyed a great bowl of spicy ramen when I went to the doll festival acclaimed city of Konosu in Saitama prefecture.

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Ntendeni was impressed with the bowl of spicy ramen in Konosu. Konosu, 2017.

Sapporo ramen

Sapporo is acclaimed for its great ramen. I find it amazing how in Japan, different regions compete to create the best ramen and chefs dedicate their craft to innovating new styles and tastes. As a South African, I would have never imagined that people would put their skills and passion into…noodles!

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Ntendeni had a taste of Sapporo ramen during the snow festival. Sapporo, 2017.

Tokyo ramen

A bowl of noodles outside the Tokyo Skytree is what started all the craving.

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The best bowls of ramen are those with the most generous servings of meat. Tokyo, 2017.

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Ntendeni always orders the noodles with the most meat.

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The ramen menu.

Kita-Senju, Tokyo

The latest bowl of ramen I ate was at Kita-Senju station in Tokyo, the station where I always change trains on my way to and fro church every Sunday.

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Again, Ntendeni went for the biggest bowl and the most meat. Kita-Senju, Tokyo, 2017.

Other noodles

As I was going through pictures of my life in Japan, I found other noodle dishes I had tried before.

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Yakisoba noodles from Minami-Koshigaya Awa Odori festival. Koshigaya, 2016.

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Vietnamese noodles from the Cup Noodles museum in Yokohama. Ntendeni loved the taste and texture of the thin noodles. Yokohama, 2016.

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Soba noodles on a bamboo tray at a dinner party with colleagues in Koshigaya. Koshigaya,2016.

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Noodles at Ntendeni’s first dinner with colleagues. Koshigaya, 2016.

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Ntendeni shared the noodles with colleagues. 

 

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