麺創房無敵家 Mutekiya Ramen, Ikebukuro Tokyo
Our trip to Tokyo in early 2013 was all about patisseries and ramen. Well, it ain’t a pilgrimage for nothing. We flew budget to Tokyo and that meant transiting in Taipei. It was an overnight flight and after the gruelling experience of spending more than half a day airborne, we were visibly tired and hungry (read: grumpy). After a quick check in-to the apartment we would be putting up with over the next few days, we made a beeline for a late “lunch date” at 麺創房無敵家 Mutekiya, our first pitstop for ramen. Definitely wasted no time in getting into the pilgrimage mode!
麺創房無敵家 Mutekiya is much raved for their ramen, specifically that of the “Kyushu style”. Located at the southern tip of the Ikebukuro JR station, it was conveniently just a stone-throw away from where we stayed. Literally just across the subway line. So coming here to get fed and fuelled made absolute perfect sense!
It was a late weekday afternoon, way after the lunch peak hour. No Japanese men in business suits in line ploughing through their daily Nikkei Shimbun, and no Japanese OLs chittering over the latest company gossips. Nonetheless there was a short queue formed outside the shop, much to our initial dismay. But this is considerably “manageable”. A ramen deli is not a French salon de thé like Ladurée @ Ginza Mitsukoshi. It is hardly the place where one would hang out and make small chat over a cuppa. True enough, we did not have to wait for long before we were ushered in.
As we finally made it to the front of the queue, we couldn’t help but notice a huge chinese kwali graffitied to showcase one of their most popular ramen selections of the house, a quick glimpse for customers in line of what to expect as they wait in eager anticipation.
A long wooden plaque telling customers that Mutekiya uses 100% carefully selected wheat from Hokkaido for their ramen and negi from Aomori – a quality assurance.
Another interesting signage at the door, an invitation to join Mutekiya as their staff. And I must say they pay pretty well too!
We were already shown the menu when in queue and knew exactly what we wanted. When in doubt, always order their 第一番人気 ichiban ninki. Surely they must do their most popular ramen well! Our ramen came almost instantly as we sat down. They were already in the process of being cooked and prepared! Everything was of clockwork precision but that is hardly a surprise for the Japanese!
We couldn’t help but let out a “fwah!” when we were served our bowl. It may look really drab but the aroma was quite “breath-taking” literally!!! kaorii! The ingredients were the standard ramen fanfare. parboiled nanohana makes up the dark green while negi leek not spring onions contrary to common “misbelief”) takes the lighter shade. Olongish strips of menma bamboo shoot are almost completely submerged, barely visible and one whole aijitsuke tamago in the middle with a piece of toasted nori on the sides and finally, fatty slabs of charsiu bruleed before serving. What makes their ramen truly great is the tonkotsu soup broth, the highlight of Kyushyu ramen, specifically from the Hakata region in Fukuoka.
Another characteristic of Kyushu ramen is the use of straight and thick noodles, unlike their curly wurly cousins from the other regions. It had just nicely soaked up some of the tonkotsu brothThe se-abura topping (rendered pork fat)
Mentaiko is also a speciality from Hakata, especially the spicy version where chili powder is added during the pickling process. And I love mentaiko! Not gonna miss a chance to try it! The seaweed used is very interesting. It is not the typical nori which we are accustomed to seeing, more like wakame but very very dehydrated to the point of being crunchy. The mentaiko is very savory and sumptous needless to say 🙂
Apart from their specialty soup ramens, Mutekiya also serve a dried form which is enjoyed with a tonkotsu broth, not unlike how cold soba is enjoyed!
Just look at the se-abura on the tonkotsu broth! I had expected the dipping broth to be the same as the ones used for the soup versions but no! It is much more concentrated and somewhat briny, from the shoyu that was added.
Condiments and accompanying ingredients served alongside, and finally we see the Ajitsuke tamago halved. Not as runny as what we’d expected but still very delicious! The thick slabs of char siu was very generous and so soft that it melted almost immediately in the mouth.
What an amazing ramen experience it has been! I would dare say that this is by far the best ramen we’d had in quite a long time. Mutekiya mostly certainly lived up to its name for being the no. 1 ramen deli in Ikebukuro. And I would most certainly recommend anyone who visits Tokyo to make a trip down to Ikebukuro to try it. You will not be disappointed.
麺創房無敵家 Mutekiya Ramen
1-17-1 Minami-Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku 東京都豊島区南池袋1-17- (Ikebukuro Station East Exit), Tokyo, Japan. Tel: + 03 3982 7656
Opening Hours: 10:30am-4am
Tokyo 2013 : A Pilgrimage of Ramen, Patisseries & Depachikas! — A Sneak Preview
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Dinner @ Shi Ten Noh Ramen, Dotonbori
Kura Ramen @ Plaza Singapura
Ajisen Ramen @ Parkway Parade
Nantsuttei Ramen @ Parco Millenia
Keisuke Tokyo Ramen @ Parco Millenia