During our recent hot spell I was really craving some noodles. In recent years though, I've kind of lost my affection for cold "bun" type dishes and I've yet to come across a version of hiyashi chuka in San Diego that I enjoy. So I thought why not do a couple of servings of tsukemen which invented in the mid-1950's by Yamagishi Kazuo at his shop Taishoken Ramen. He is such a legendary personality that there's actually a documentary called God of Ramen, which is sort of a Jiro Dreams of Sushi style movie.
Anyway, I thought it would be good to compare a couple of bowls over consecutive days.
RakiRaki Ramen and Tsukemen:
A yes, the home of hype..... Though I'll honestly say, the service here has been efficient, and Tsukemen I've had here has gotten better over time. It's now less salty, there's a bit of an almost citrus effect with the flavor of the broth. It also seemed to have gained some viscosity this time around as it coated my noodles, which were perfectly prepared (firm with almost a crunch), nicely.
There was a bit more pork than I recalled in the broth, though it was a bit too cold in temperature for me; I thought this was the best version by far.....except for that egg, which I thought should have been soft boiled.
RakiRaki Ramen and Tsukemen
4646 Convoy St
San Diego, CA 92111
I really didn't know what to expect from Yamadaya. I know what I usually get here; Kotteri Tonkotsu with Kakuni Pork and extra firm noodles. I really didn't like the Tsukemen when I had it back in 2012. But, since I started this thing.....
The broth is still to salty for my tastes, which makes it difficult to taste much else. In spite of the rich look of the broth, it doesn't coat the noodles well, which by the way, were done pretty good....I had expected it to be overdone. The chashu here is bland and dry, the egg was nicely done though.
4706 Clairemont Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA 92117
So that was going to be it....just a head-to-head comparison. Until I mentioned this to someone and they told me I needed to include Tajima in the mix. Frankly, I thought after my last post, I'd be done for a while, but I guess not. So for due diligence here it is.
Tajima Ramen House:
Actually, the Tsukemen looked not bad.
That chashu was dry and tough, the noodles over-cooked, the egg was nicely done, good flavor, soft boiled...one out of three. The noodles are hard to forgive. That broth was weird, there a strange metallic aftertaste that I get from the broth at Tajima, also this had a slightly fishy tone to it; like it was based on niboshi dashi. Very thin, it did a lousy job of coating the noodles in fat and flavor. At least it was hot.....
Tajima Japanese Restaurant
4681 Convoy St
San Diego, CA 92111
OK, so those were an interesting three days..... As I figured Raki Raki was my favorite and Tajima my least favorite. Still, it was a fun little comparison.
And as an added bonus - here's the trailer from God of Ramen: