So a few months back, maybe around late-November or early-December, I was down in Tokyo to attend a required event for my scholarship (Spoiler: it was boring), and had an extra day to spare, since the sponsoring organization covered one night of accommodation for us. And…you guess it, of course I used that time to find a good ramen place or two. I actually just kinda woke up in the morning after the event and headed out without any certain destination in mind. A simple search on Goolge Maps revealed that I was, in fact, fairly close to a branch of Ramen Jiro. However, when I got there, contrary to my naive belief, there were more than 30 dudes who thought it was not completely insane to line up for a bowl of ramen from the early hours of a Sunday morning. It was apparent that I was also about to join their ranks because I was looking down on my phone, but I decided to abort that mission and kept walking on. A secondary search led me to a hole-in-the-wall kinda place in the opposite direction. I was indecisive until I saw the decorative lucha libre mask in front of the shops, then I was sold.
At Fukumen Tomo, if you’re not a regular, your choice/option is limited to the daily ramen (read: whatever the owner decides he’s in the mood of making that day), and fortunately it was a non-regluar / open-for-everyone day, meaning I wasn’t kicked out of the store for intruding their sacred ground. So I grabbed a ticket for a daily ramen and another ticket for extra chashu and handed them over. The chef asked me if I wanted Shio (salt-based) or Shoyu (soy sauce-based) ramen, to which I replied Shoyu. He and his assistant / apprentice were both wearing the shop’s Anniversary shirt (I forgot how many years, maybe 10) with the words forming a lucha libre mask in front. The apprentice, one young looking dude in his mid-20s, asked me if I wanted to try their special Asahi sauce (yes), as well as jalapeno (nope) on top. Here’s the awkward part: I was wearing my puroresu (the Japanese way of saying pro-wrestling) hoodie that day, it was quite a subtle design to not make it obvious that I’m a fan, but the apprentice dude must have noticed and realized, because he spent 2 or 3 minutes straight staring at my chest, as if to acknowledge the fact that I was wearing puroresu merchandise. I kept having to divert from his gaze and the ramen bowl couldn’t have come faster at that point.
Anyway, the ramen came up, looked hella impressive and aesthetically pleasing. I took a spoonful of the broth before mixing in the sauce, which was a good start. Bold, deep, and complex. The mustard-based sauce added a nice kick to what was already a well-constructed broth. Noodles on point as well, cooked just enough to retain the elasticity. It would have been a 9/10 bowl of ramen, except their chashu was paper thin, which is my biggest pet peeve when it comes to ramen (sad, I know). I swear if I held up a slice of chashu in front of me I could see the apprentice guy staring straight through it. Just minutes before that I was quietly complementing them for using a mechanical slicer to produce perfectly round slices of chashu, but that approval turned into disdain when I realized they probably set the setting to the thinnest possible cut. I still had enough to eat and obviously didn’t leave unsatisfied, but an extra 1/2 inch of thickness for the chashu would have 100% made my day.
Side note: when I backtracked my trip on Google Maps to find the name of the place, it appeared to me that it Fukumen Tomo is actually a longstanding ramen shop with, presumably, a loyal following from their regulars (as is the case with famous names such as Ramen Jiro). There used to be only one day for non-regulars / first-timers to enjoy the ramen there, but due to popular demand they turned it around and now there’s only one day of the week dedicated to regulars-only.