Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Greetings from the Shinkansen Bullet Train

This morning, I took off from Kyoto to Tokyo courtesy of Japan’s Shinkansen aka Bullet Train.  The train moves at a ridiculous velocity, makes minimal noise and rides unbelievably steady.  The last 2 plus days I have been running around Kyoto in an effort to 1). see my fill of the 8,000 or so temples located there and 2). eat my fill of the region’s best offerings for ramen. 

In Kyoto, I located my second ramen station on this trip, which unlike the ramen floor detailed in Sapporo, actually offers a sampling of ramen places from different Japanese regions.  Located on the 10th floor of Kyoto Station building, ramen central here offers representatives from Hokkaido, Kyushu, and Tokyo.  The big draw at the Kyoto alley happens to be perennial ramen critic favorite TESTSU ramen.  TESTSU currently holds a place on the coveted ramendb.com’s (which is like a ramen Yelp but with intelligence, real analysis and sound credibility)  Top Ten, sitting loftily at #3 with a score of 92.55.  The last 90+ score awarded on a site that is frugal with anything above 80.

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Also in Kyoto, I got a chance to visit some of the more popular local ramen shops.  Kyoto’s regional ramen is seemingly synonymous with their identity; which is a style of ramen that is more rooted in a traditionally simpler – almost classically Chinese flavored broth and thinner straight noodles.  There is a more prominent chicken stock based influence with a lot of the flavors normally utilized in Chinese based soup.  At some point I’ll outline all of this ramen stuff in some way or form, but that’s a little taste of things to come for now.

Some highlights during this leg of the trip:

-Temple of the Golden Pavilion

-The start of Kyoto’s Cherry Blossom season, Cherry Blossoms in the Imperial Palace Kyoto Garden

-Nishiki Food Market

-Arashiyama Neighborhood

-Late night Takoyaki from a dude in a van

-Discovering the #2 rated ramen restaurant in Kyoto is less than 2 minutes from our Ryokan hotel

Here is a sampling of pics  I will have to setup an upload at some point and put everything online for viewing, but here is some stuff:



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