Yesterday, Cherry needed a fix, there was only one thing on her mind. So as we stepped out of our air-conditioned paradise into the burning sun’s rays, she suggested we walk to the other end of town for a Jangara. Not even one of the big people, who told her that it was all boarded up could set her mind at rest. Like the alcoholic that so desperately sucks on an empty whiskey bottle (the use of the ‘e’ being deliberate on the basis that whisky drinker, by definition, would have sufficient taste and decorum to avoid becoming an alcoholic, maybe a drunk, but not an alcoholic; the critical difference being that alcoholics go to those awful meetings, “Hello my name is Chad and I am alcoholic”, whereas a drunk would never do that), Cherry needed a fix. So off we went to Jangara, only to find it boarded up. The lessons to be learnt from this sad experience being, first, don’t wear a blue shirt in summer if stepping outside, and second, that every once in a while one should listen to the big people, as they are usually, or at least on occasion can be, correct.
As a result, whilst I managed to fix a recent pizza craving at Salvatore, Cherry was still desperate for her fix and methadone was not enough. So today we ventured out into the desert of Akasaka, to Jangara’s new store, which thankfully retains the same inexplicable smell of the old store, but is only a stone’s throw from the office.
And low and behold, despite the use of a different well to make its famous soup (or a slightly different part of the Tokyo water system), it still tasted like the soup I knew and loved from the old store.
Noodles: Proper Kyushu style noodles, thin, firm to the bit, not overly absorbent, which is perfect for the soup. Cooked to request in terms of firmness, couldn’t ask for much more. 26 points.
Soup: In terms of taste, one of the best, a perfect layer of fat on top making you know that this is not health food, this is food for the junkie. The so-called milder version is so thick you could stand your chopsticks up in it (I am not sure whether this is the same as standing up chopsticks in rice, but guess this is not a good idea), the thicker version you need a spoon to eat on a good day, a jackhammer on other days. The only reason that this soup does not get the full 30 points is that it has a smell that just doesn’t seem right. I can’t place it other than the Jangara smell, but it is a rather unique aroma to say the least. 28 points.
Topping: As good as it come, wide choice of pretty much what ever you could imagine on top of a bowl of soup and noodles, although Lapp was of the view that the fishy flavour of the spicy cod roe and ramen did not work. I went for a kakuni and egg topping, which was great. Three big chunks of the most flavoursome kakuni, which must have been boiling away well before they moved to the new location; a couple of slices of chashu, that fell apart as you looked at them, balancing the firmer texture of the kakuni, a generous amount of kikurage, freshly cut scallions, ginger, garlic paste and sesame seeds at the table to adjust the flavour during one’s expedition to the bottom of the bowl. 19 points.
Bonus: I want to give this place the full 20 points, just because the make the best ramen within the Yamanote line, but I will restrain myself in the interests of being objective. There is no real place to queue (and there is always a queue at Jangara), which means that you must stand out in the heat on the street at this time of year, which is hot, too hot. The seating is a bit smaller that the old place and they have lost the tables making it difficult for a group of more than 1 to sit together. 5 points.
In summary, a whisker better than Akasaka Ramen, the second best ramen shop in Akasaka.
The details: 2-15-15 Akasaka, Minato-ku
Web site: http://www.kyusyujangara.co.jp/shops/akasaka.htm