Friday, November 18, 2011

Menji Abura

Bowl #200!  I think we all have things we like to eat a ridiculous amount of in life, and since I came to Japan, mine has been ramen.  Although I didn't realize it at the time, Menji Abura is officially my 200th bowl of ramen (or ramen-like noodles for those of you are being picky since this place serves abura soba).

It had been a long time since I'd been to an abura soba shop, and this one piqued my interest since I pass it all the time walking through Dotonbori.  Since I've never explained it before, abura soba (sometimes called maze soba or maze men) is ramen without the broth; noodles and toppings, but with a sauce or seasoning instead of soup.  You are meant to add some vinegar, ra-yu, shichimi, pepper, or other spices as you like and mix it all together.

Menji Abura had four different flavors to choose from, and as you might guess, I went for the spicy one.

麺爺 あぶら
Ōsaka-fu Ōsaka-shi Chūō-ku Dōtonbori1丁目10−1
Menji Abura on Dotonbori, right under the Lotteria, but will be changing location around Christmas 2011.

The Bowl
One of the things I like about ramen, and especially tsukemen, is that there is a thick broth that gives taste to everything around it - the noodles and the toppings.  Oppositely, abura soba, which is covered in spices and sometimes sauce, runs the risk of being a little bland.  Menji Abura's bowl had a little bit of this problem; the spicy sauce was good on the fat, curly noodles, but there was something missing.  The chashu also was hard and lacking in flavor.  This was partially made up for in the large number of spices available, which included the ones mentioned above, sansho, the numbing spice used on Chinese Sichuan dishes and a special sesame ra-yu.  The sesame ra-yu was especially good; I haven't had much like that before and it made the noodles taste a bit more like tan tan men.

Would I Go Again?
I'm a little curious about the other flavors, but I think I'd rather search out a new abura soba place.

Should You Go?
The sesame ra-yu was the most special thing this place had, so feel free to skip this one.

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