Guys, the ramen game in Tokyo is so on point that it almost pained me to make this recipe instead of heading out to my local ramen joint. There is no way that I could ever master the art of ramen without studying for a lifetime. Tokyo is full of bowls and bowls of ramen, each one seemingly more delicious than the next. What I love about ramen, aside from the fact that it’s crazy good, is that it is crazy creative. Traditional Japanese cuisine is refined and, in a way, very restrictive. Ramen, because it is a relatively new (say the 1900s compared to soba from the Edo period of the 1800s) kind of cuisine, allows for a lot of creativity because it isn’t as steeped in tradition.
It also helps that every region has it’s own type of ramen. That kind of creativity leads to what the Japanese fondly refer to as free-style. You can find free-style bowls of ramen with fried chicken, vegetable bases, and of course, broth-less ramen like this mazemen. This mazemen recipe is out of the lovely Phil and Kim’s latest cookbook, Food Truck Road Trip. I had the opportunity to meet them in Vegas last year at the Food Blog awards and they are two of the most food-passionate people I’ve ever met. They’re created a cookbook full of gorgeous photos and some incredible food truck recipes.
I absolutely have a thing for food trucks. I think it’s because strangely, I like eating while standing. Or maybe it’s because I’m a sucker for hype and long lines. Whenever I see a line here in Tokyo I almost always want to line up. At the very least I’ll slow down to take a look and see what people are lining up for. Today I got really excited because I saw a crowd of people gathering around with hunger in their eyes. Turns out they were lining up for KFC. Oh well, you win some, you lose some. Needless to say, I didn’t line up for the chicken.
I would however, line up for eggs if there were line ups for eggs. The eggs in Japan are out of control. The have incredibly high orange yolks and if you buy the high end eggs, they tell you which farm they came from and what day the eggs were laid. I absolutely love the attention to detail. It’s funny because the Japanese are so meticulous about making it easy to know where your food comes from but honestly the address system here in Tokyo makes it incredibly hard to find restaurants.
The very first time Mike and I visited Tokyo we got lost a million times even though we had maps galore. The address system here is a little crazy. And even though Mike has now somewhat figured it out, it’s still a hit or miss whether or not we’ll find a place. Often times you have to remember to look up because there are lots of places on the upper floors. One time we were looking for an craft beer bar with supposedly amazing food but after circling around and around in the freezing cold looking for the numbers on the buildings, we decided to give up and just go and grab a random bowl of ramen.
I tried a mazemen and it absolutely hit the spot but it wasn’t beer and beer snacks. But, just in case you were curious, we finally found the bar! It only took us two years of looking. It was sitting right where we thought it was, only it was on the second floor. We felt like complete idiots but that didn’t stop us from going inside and finally enjoying it. Sometimes things are worth the wait – but not KFC. Sorry Colonel Sanders!
Loco Moco Mazemen Recipe slightly adapted from Food Truck Road Trip – A Cookbook via Kiki and Chris’ Poi Dog Philly Food Truck
- 3/4 pound ground beef
- 4 eggs*
- 120 grams dried ramen noodles (I used fresh)
- sliced green onions
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, grated
- 1/3 cup diced white onion
- 2 tablespoon shoyu/soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups beef stock
- 2 tablespoons white miso
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 8 sheets roasted Korean seaweed
To make the marinade, combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the ground beef, cover and marinate in the refrigerator for about 2 hours. Bring a small pot of water to a boil over high heat, add the eggs and boil for 6 minutes. Drain and immediately dunk in ice water. Peel and set aside.
Cook the ramen noodles according to the package directions, drain and set aside.
To make gravy, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and stir in the flour. Once the roux browns lightly, 1 to 2 minutes, whisk in the beef stock, then the miso. Add the black pepper and salt if needed. Cook for about 6 minutes until the gravy thickens.
Remove the beef from the refrigerator, add to a skillet set over medium-high heat and sauté until cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes.
Divide the noodles among 4 bowls, dress with the miso gravy, then top evenly with the beef, and 1 egg per bowl. Tuck 2 sheets of seaweed next to the rim of each bowl and top with green onions.
I did my eggs as a fresh egg yolk – the eggs here in Tokyo are incredibly fresh and I don’t have any issues eating raw yolks, but if you don’t have access to super fresh eggs, I’d recommend going with the soft boiled egg suggestion or even maybe doing a fried egg.
PS – I wouldn’t wait in line for KFC but I absolutely would for Church’s Chicken. I don’t know what it is about their chicken. It’s like crack to me I don’t care if you think I’m incredibly trashy for saying that. I just LOVE it.