Umami Mart Barware

Postcard from Hokkaido: Here's Looking at YOU

This squid was swimming around, minding its own business just a couple minutes before this photo was taken. Its tentacles were still moving and all those black spots were flashing on and off while we ate it sashimi style. Then they fried the head for tempura.

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The Ramen Shaman: Ezo Fukurou Visits America

I may have missed the recent LA Ramen Yokocho Fest due to an unavoidable trip to Ohio, but I lucked out into finding out about Mitsuwa Market's Hokkaido Festival in Torrance. It was this past weekend and the next best thing to actually being in Hokkaido -- which I was, just...

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The Ramen Shaman: Koshin (Nishi-Shinjuku)

My new neighborhood in Tokyo is called Yayoicho, just a mile west of Shinjuku, one of the biggest entertainment and nightlife spots on planet earth. It's like Times Square, only if New Yorkers hung out there all the time instead of clueless tourists and touts. My part of town is...

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The Ramen Shaman: Bunsuke (Asakusa,Tokyo)

I went to the future the other day and found this synopsis on an IMDB page from 2018: A lonely Tokyo ramen shop proprietor secretly pines for a local bar owner and former model. His three most devoted customers, two wacky foreigners and their Japanese friend, fear the ramen master...

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The Ramen Shaman: Junk Garage (Tokyo Station)

If I gave you several options for dinner and you knew nothing about the restaurants other than their names, and one was called “Junk Garage”, you’re eating there, right? I’m going with Junk Garage every single time. I heard about this shop through the usual ramen fanatic-suspects and was fascinated...

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The Ramen Shaman: Silverlake Ramen (LA)

It's been just over a year since I started my ramen blog. At least six new ramen shops have opened in LA since then (a far cry from the one-a-day that are said to open in Tokyo, but still). I've learned more about soup than I could have ever imagined,...

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The Ramen Shaman: Gundam (Kyoto)

My trip to Kyoto was awesome for many reasons. Temples, new friends, raw nature, or scenes like this one, just three boys feeding hawks like a flock of seagulls. Despite its rural look this is in the heart of Kyoto. And there was this: My couchsurfing host just happened to...

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The Ramen Shaman: Shhh, It's a Secret!

Two years ago, bored at work with nothing better to do but read through American ex-pat ramen journals, I decided to start my own ramen blog. I didn't tell anyone about it for a year because I was only using it to learn more about ramen and chronicle the bowls...

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The Ramen Shaman: Chibiscus (Hollywood)

Last week a reader asked if I had tried Chibiscus. Apparently it had been compared to Tsujita -- a bold statement. I promised I'd check it out. I assumed it was the random shop that opened on Sunset Blvd earlier this year around the same time as Maki Maku on...

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The Ramen Shaman: Men Oh (LA)

Men Oh hails from Tokushima prefecture on Shikoku Island, the smallest and least populated of Japans’s four main islands. Until the completion of the first of several bridge systems in 1988 the island was only accessible by ferry or plane, and to this day the mostly rural island flies under...

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The Ramen Shaman: Miso Ramen at Kururi (Ichigaya)

My second day in Japan was inauspicious. The sky was dreary, overcast, drizzling all day and on into the night, and I woke up with a full-blown cold to boot. So in other words, the perfect day for a bowl of ramen. After spending the day at the National Museum...

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The Ramen Shaman: Miso Ramen at Sumire (Sapporo)

Los Angeles to San Francisco. San Francisco to Tokyo. Tokyo to Sapporo. Plane to train to subway to foot. 33 straight hours of travel and my first meal in Japan made it all worthwhile. Welcome to すみれ (Sumire). My couch-surfing hosts initially thought my ramen fixation was a cute diversion...

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The Ramen Shaman: Aoki-tei (Asakusa)

Push yourself. Every challenge makes you better. Or as I learned, making a fool of yourself at a run-of-the mill ramen shop prepares you for the big boys. I recently traveled to Japan, where I had 21 bowls of ramen in 23 days. It would have been more but I...

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The Ramen Shaman: Daikokuya (LA)

If you know anything about ramen in Los Angeles you’ve heard of Daikokuya, the original LA noodle institution. There are throngs of people waiting outside its bright yellow awning at almost any hour of the day, despite several other shops within viewing distance. It was my first-ever ramen love. I’ve...

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The Ramen Shaman: Fuunji (Shinjuku)

On a dull, drizzling day in Tokyo I set out for my second-ever bowl of tsukemen (ramen dipping noodles). After its introduction in the early 2000's, tsukemen has boomed in popularity, rising to a crescendo a few years ago and still going strong. Many, many shops in Tokyo offer both standard ramen...

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