麺屋黒船 kurofune: don't believe the hype machine
It’s amazing what hunger will do to a person. A little peckishness can go a long way in transforming an otherwise pleasant individual into a seething mass of irritability and frustration. Think of it as reverse Jekyll & Hyde effect. By jonesing for the magic potion, one becomes… a monster.
Such was the case when I found myself in a k-car full of indecisive Japanese people recently, driving around Tokyo looking for something to eat. Something good to eat, yet not too far away. Of course, considering the number of times we’d circled the same few blocks we could have made it all the way to Tachikawa Ramen Square and back. Seeing as how I was merely a guest on the expedition, I had decided to leave it up to the locals. Which was the mistake.
Kurofune Ramen came as something of a last resort, when over-accomodating hosts draw upon the one characteristic of their guest that no one around can readily forget (“He likes ramen!”), at which point someone (surely, not I) will invariably assert that, well then, ramen is what we must have tonight.
Was it some how less than stellar because I’d temporarily flamed out on near consecutive meals of genkotsu, Jangara, chukamen, and morisoba? Was there something I was missing in my layman’s assessment of (“TV RAMEN CHAMPION!”) Yasuji Morizumi’s assari-kei pet project?
Because the truthiness of the matter is that Kurofune was above-average at best, mediocre at worse, and by far the least memorable ramen experience I had on this entire noodle-slurping Japanese journey.
To give you an indication of how bad that was however, Kurofune still managed to score a 16 on the final “in the bowl” combined score of soup, noodles and toppings (see below). A ramen shop outside of Japan would be very respectable coming in at sweet 16. But in Japan, in Tokyo of all places, that translates into “fairly unmemorable.”
Now I suppose that I should admit, at this point, that I’m not a particular fan of miso ramen. I’m a southern boy through and through, at home in a Softbank Hawks jersey in Fukuoka slurping down quantities of kaedama with pork bone oozing out my pores. But I’ve had good miso ramen and sir, you are no Sumire.
Kurofune’s chefs recommended the spicy miso ramen as the popular choice among male diners. (Women prefer the shio, apparently). After having spent a day updating my wardrobe in Harajuku, I decided an injection of manliness was certainly in order. Bring it on I told them.
What arrived was a fairly steamy bowl of noodles kicked up a notch: black pepper and hot oil coating a heady miso brew. But like at Chabuya, Morizumi’s vaunted (and, as far as I can tell, overhyped) excursion into “premium” shoyu-tonkotsu ramen, things just doesn’t quite gel like they should.
The yellow egg noodles were firm, flat, and straight, abit too close to linguini of all things. Though they stayed rather al dente throughout the meal (a good sign), it was as though they didn’t belong. The chashu tasted like it’d been sitting out a while, and lacked the flavor or tenderness of better examples. Ironically, just like at Chabuya, loading up on fried garlic made a difference, but in this case, the tableside chips were possibly just a little bit too stale.
I’m beginning to think that Morizumi’s prowess as a ramen chef is merely the product of marketing and connections. TV champion? He certainly advertises the fact at Kurofune with a huge sign right next to the door. Maybe it’s because he needs all the help he can get.
|strongly flavored soups, but like morizumi’s chabuya shoyu-tonkotsu, somehow lacking in dimension. there’s just something missing and i can’t put my finger on it. the shio broth was pretty unique with a peculiar sense of sweetness however..||6|
|firmly formed egg noodles are ok, but slightly reminiscent of al dente pasta. at least they don’t suffer from spaghetti syndrome, soaking in the broth.||4|
|passable but nothing stellar. the addition of garlic chips and copious quantities of hot oil make the spicy miso ramen a sweaty, interesting proposition.||6|
|i made a side out of the garlic chips on the table!||NA|
|warm lighting and an elegant wood counter upscale the neighborhood ramen shop experience.||6|
|if nothing else, i’ve always had pleasant experiences with the staff at morizumi’s restaurants. service with a smile for sure.||3|