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拉面 La Mian World

the quest for the perfect noodle

Category Archives: Japan

So this is the last post on La Mian World. Maybe.

It has been a great journey. The world’s first blog dedicated to the art of  hand pulled Chinese noodles was launched in 2011. With one post per month and fabulous finds of places, restaurants and noodle artists it is the ultimate source of wisdom for all la mian lovers. So or in similar ways goes the usual praise for ones own blog.

Anyway I just had a good time exploring different aspects of the La Mian World, Asian food and countries, taking photographs and last but not least eating and enjoying heaps of amazing, fresh hand pulled la mian.

I hope you enjoyed it as well. Thanks for reading and keep on eating la mian at your local la mian chef’s joint! And of course you can come back and re-read some old post every now and then. It doesn’t hurt.


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Sapporo in Winter! We all know Sapporo had hosted the winter Olympics of 1972 and so you would expect some snow. And snow I got when I visited Hokkaido’s major metropolis this February exactly 41 years after this historic event which marked the first time any winter Olympics were happening outside of Europe and North America. 1972 is an auspicious year for me. This Chinese year of the rat is my year of birth and the (unfortunately overshadowed) summer Olympic games took place in the city where I was born, Munich. I immediately felt at home in the snow covered Sapporo.

What I did not know, and only found out while warming up in my hotel room from the snow blast outside, is that Sapporo has a so called Ramen alley in its entertainment district of Susukino.

Since this year was not the first harsh winter that Sapporoans have experienced, they were smart enough to dig a lot of tunnels underneath the city. So you can practically walk all the way from the main JR railway station to Susukino underground. It is nice and warm and of course features a multitude of shops along the way. Resurfacing at Susukino subway station it is just a short slide on icy roads to the original Ramen alley.

The alley is more like a small passage way between two high rise blocks which is plastered with a long row of small Ramen restaurants. At eleven in the morning most of the eateries were still closed. I imagined that in the evening you will be pushed through this Ramen tunnel as two man can hardly pass here.

Entering one of the restaurants my lovely travel companion and I were obviously the first guests of the day. The open kitchen of this place showcased a massive mess and was in fact not the usual Japanese eyecandy. However, the old man in the kitchen prepared our meal in his lifelong routine way. He produced a beautiful bowl of Ramen and lit a cigarette after his five minutes of hard work while we slurped the noodles as loud as possible to show our appreciation.

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During my recent trip to Japan I suffered from a Ramen overdose. A serious overdose. Although I spent the day skiing down the Niseko Annupuri mountain in perfect sunshine and acquiring a reasonable appetite for dinner I could not manage the massive portion of Ramen at Asahikawa Ramen Tozanken in Hirafu.

Everything was perfect about the dish of special Asahikawa Ramen. The soup was well-balanced, the pork tasted like the best Bavarian pork roast and the Ramen noodles were excellently cooked al-dente. I could not finish the bowl although I tried Saporro beer and Sake as supporting acts, the portion was simply too massive. So if you are looking at value for money for an outstanding energy boost after a day in the wild outdoors this is your place to go.

Luckily I recovered from this noodle shock in the meantime and I am ready to head back to the Ramen Champion in Singapore. This excellent collection of eight of the best Ramen restaurants (so they claim) from Japan is located at Iluma Bugis shopping centre and in Changi Airport. I only visited the Iluma outlet so far. It is a nice set-up of original styled Ramen shops with the typical flags, counters and lots of steam from the boiling water and soups. Indeed you get some Ramen varieties here in one spot in Singapore that you normally don’t find so easily elsewhere in the city. You should visit a couple of times to try the different Ramen styles – it is worth it.

Once in a while you might want to diversify your diet or just need to eat some really good dessert. Then you should try the J.S. Burgers Cafe in Tokyo. Burgers Cafe does not sound like the right place for dessert but in this case it is. I tried the cheesecake and the chocolate cake. I have no idea what their burgers are like but the atmosphere of this place on a rooftop in Shinjuku is great and the cakes tasted  just outstanding. After two slices of sweet cake I am sure ready for more salty noodles!

Asahikawa Ramen Tozanken, Hirafu, Hokkaido, Japan

Ramen Champion, Iluma Bugis Level 4 and Changi Airport Terminal 3 Basement 2, Singapore

J.S. Burgers Cafe, 3F, 4-1-7 Shinjuku-ku, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan (third floor of the Journal Standard fashion shop)

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As we all (didn’t) know, the noodles used for Japanese Ramen are not hand pulled but, according to the universal brain wikipedia, cut with a knife. Pho is the name of a Vietnamese dish which contains noodles made from rice and not from wheat flour. There are a lot of people writing about, taking photos of and running blogs about Ramen. Pho on the other hand is less talked about and also it may be harder to find a specialised Pho than a Ramen restaurant around the world. I love Pho and I enjoy Ramen. But: Nothing beats hand pulled La Mian.

After leaving Hong Kong and enjoying a relaxed flight on ANA to Haneda airport I stayed in Tokyo for two days. Since I had no time to research on La Mian availability in Tokyo I forced my Japanese colleague to take me to a nice Ramen shop. Tokyo is an amazing city and I like to walk and explore its different quarters, little alleys and massive boulevards. At the very point when we decided to head for Ramen, no appropriate place could be found. August in Tokyo is very hot. It was extremely hot on that day and after we finally found the right, tiny little Ramen restaurant I was already drenched. With the nuclear crisis and savings on electricity still in full force there was no air conditioning available. We settled down at the bar and watched the Ramen chefs prepare our orders of 900 Yen Ramen per bowl. The Ramen was great and on the street later I showed off  my new wet-style see-through white shirt.

One week later in Vietnam the great challenge for me was to not eat Pho three times per day. It is a marvelous breakfast, a good lunch snack and a light dinner. If you happen to be in Hanoi try Mai Anh’s chicken noodle soup, it is fantastic.

Actually I prefer the soup with thinly sliced beef fillet called Phở Bò Tái. The meat comes almost still rare and is all soft and tasty. So far all the Pho’s I tried in Vietnam were so good that I had to finish even the broth to the last drop. Hardcore Pho enthusiasts will probably hate me for saying that I also really like the Pho at the chain eateries of Pho 24.

Mai Anh Restaurant, 32 Le Van Huu Street, Hanoi

Pho 24, many outlets across Vietnam, see website

or try in Singapore:

Pho 99, 57 Amoy Street, Singapore

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