IPPUDO OUTSIDE|ラーメンや一風堂にまつわる“ヒト・モノ・コト”にフォーカスするウェブマガジン

IPPUDO OUTSIDE|ラーメンや一風堂にまつわる“ヒト・モノ・コト”にフォーカスするウェブマガジン

IPPUDO JAPAN

Masters of Japanese sake at the Ippudo stand once a month!

I dropped by for Sakagura Night, the special event for Japanese sake. The Ippudo Tenjin Nishi-dori Stand, which opened in Tenjin, Fukuoka City in February 2017, began hosting special Sakagura Night events every 4th Thursday, starting in May. A different master brewer is invited each time, from one of the many sakagura (sake breweries) in the Fukuoka region. As you sip the delicious sake, let the brewer tell you how it’s done, and reveal the characteristics of each variety, providing new understanding of its subtleties. We asked ramen writer Toshiyuki Kamimura of Fukuoka to tell us about his visit.

WORDS by TOSHIYUKI KAMIMURA
PHOTOS by KOJI MAEDA(Ushiro)

Masters of Japanese sake at the Ippudo stand once a month!

Ramen writer Kamimura here. I’ve been slurping ramen her and there for twenty years now, writing from the customer’s viewpoint in various media about the fascination of ramen, and the zeal of the chefs who make it. Now ramen is gaining popularity worldwide, and as it emerges as a “borderless” cuisine I can feel that the industry here is on the verge of a sea change. As the industry evolves so rapidly, one of the most intereesting developments is the Ippudo Stand, offering shots of Japanese sake.

一風堂Ippudo Stand

Look for the lanterns to find the Ippudo Tenjin Nishi-dori Stand. They have terrace seats, too.

The first Ippudo Stand was opened last year in Hamamatsu-cho, Tokyo, and as a new dimension in dining combines ramen with Japanese sake. The Tenjin Nishi-dori Stand is the only one in Kyushu. I was fortunate enough to experience this combination once before at Ippudo New York, but this stand is far more casual. Japanese sake begins from the standard ¥380. In New York, they also offered the extensive *Hakata Buns selection of popular side dishes from Japan. In addition to the original shiromaru and new akamaru ramen, they also have new ramen such as low-carbs Hakata Chinese-style soba, with only half the sugar content.

※ Click [here] for the secret origin story of the Ippudo Standhttp://www.chikaranomoto.com/recruit/feature/crosstalk03/

一風堂 Ippudo Stand Event

The Ippudo Tenjin Nishi-dori Stand held its first Sakagura Night on May 25, inviting a master brewer as guest. I am only a novice when it comes to Japanese sake, so I decided to go to see just what an “authentic” Japanese sake event might be. As an Ippudo fan I was especially thrilled to see a new development in ramen being born in Fukuoka.

一風堂 Ippudo Stand

The restaurant was packed… and there was Japanese sake, on this day only.

“Irohani” masu and taste charts, perfect for novices

The restaurant was already packed by the time the event was scheduled to start, at 19:00. After renovation the restaurant featured traditional lanterns for an even more inviting atmosphere than before. The guest was Tadatsugu Inoue, the 4th master of the Mii-no-kotobuki brewery in Tachiarai, Fukuoka, founded in 1922. I started with the 1500-yen sampler and found a seat. The sampler included four brands: Batonnage, Felice, Jungin Cho-karakuchi, and Biden Karajo, and each wooden masu cup was marked with I, RO, HA, or NI (hence the name…). You can check the mark with the provided list to know which one you’re enjoying. This was my first experience, and it was delightful. They played a video of the Mii-no-kotobuki brewery and the production process on a big screen, and Mr. Inoue wandered table to table, introducing the joys of Japanese sake. The list provided with the sampler was great, but the Ippudo sake menu was handy, too: not only standard, special, and premium categories, but also a chart showing which were “modern” (smooth drinking) and which “classic” (the real stuff). It even explained which snacks went best with each!

一風堂 Ippudo Stand

The “Irohani” masu starter set (above) and flavor chart for novices (below).

In preparation for the event, the staff of the Ippudo Stand trekked out to the Mii-no-kotobuki brewery to pick up the sake. They also whipped up some roast pork chashu, made with the sake lees and offered some mackerel snacks from the Tateishi Kamaboko Shop in Tachiarai, beefing up their side dish menu with goodies from the region.

一風堂 Ippudo Stand

Ippudo staff visits the Mii-no-kotobuki brewery in Tachiarai

The luxury of listening to anecdotes about brewing sake, live!

As I was enjoying myself, Mr. Inoue from Mii-no-kotobuki dropped by my table. “I speak at a lot of events around the country,” he said, “but I only like about 30% of the sake brewed here in Japan.” He stressed that your very first sip can decide if you love sake or hate it, explaining that he tries to make sake that is mellow and easy to drink, so people will naturally come to love Japanese sake.

一風堂 Ippudo Stand

Jointly organized by Master Inoue of Mii-no-kotobuki and Sumiyoshi Liquor

Luckily enough, that was also the day they offered Felice (raw sake), a limited-quantity special. “The first Felice of the year! Go ahead, try some fresh sake, before it’s been pasteurized.” At his urging I tried a mouthful, and it was even more delicious than usual. I nodded my head as if I were an expert, but even I recognized the different taste by comparison. Of the four, I especially liked the clear, sharp flavor of the Jungin, and the Biden I ordered a second of. I got pretty smashed because I’m not used to drinking Japanese sake, but the finale was, of course, ramen. Low-carbs Hakata Chinese-style soba was just perfect after a few drinks.

一風堂 Ippudo Stand

The aesthetics of a ramen writer: always wrap things up with ramen

The Ippudo Tenjin Nishi-dori Stand is obviously a great place to go for delicious ramen, but it turned out to also offer some outstanding Japanese sake, and a heck of a good time. The company plans to hold the Sakagura Night every 4th Thursday from now on, so please stop by. You’ll discover new dimensions in ramen and Japanese sake.

一風堂 Ippudo Stand

The ticket was designed in the style of Hyakunin Isshu (one hundred waka poems) which attracted the eyes of foreign visitors.

一風堂 Ippudo Tenjin Nishidori Stand

Ippudo Tenjin Nishidori Stand

Daimyo 1-12-61, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka
5-minute walk from Fukuoka Tenjin Station (Nishitetsu Tenjin Omuta Line)
5-minute walk from Tenjin Station (Fukuoka City Subway)
Tel: 092-707-3202
Mon. Through Thu.: 11:00 to 2:00 (last order 1:30)
Fri., Sat. and the day before holiday: 11:00 to 3:00 (last order 2:30) http://www.ippudo.com/store/nishidori_stand/

TOSHIYUKI KAMIMURA

WORDS by TOSHIYUKI KAMIMURA

He was born in 1976. Triggered by a serial of articles titled ‘Kyushu Ramen Saikyo Retsuden’ (The Champions of Kyushu Ramen), which he wrote for the weekly magazine ‘Kyushu Walker’ (currently called ‘Fukuoka Walker), he debuted as ‘ramen writer’ in 2002. Since then, he has eaten more than 300 bowls of ramen per year and written articles about ramen for a number of magazines and blogs. The number of bowls of ramen that he has eaten in total is well into the thousands, and he has visited more than a thousand ramen shops. In 2011 he founded the production company ‘J.9 Corporation’. He is also a board member of an association which aims for regional revitalization through food culture, ‘MESI-OKOSHI Company’. His commitment to the promotion of ‘ramen culture’ includes being editorial supervisor for Fukuoka Walker, Ramen Walker, Fukuoka Noodle Book, Softbank Hawks Kachidoki Red Ramen Festival, being the Chairman of NEXCO Nishi-nippon Ramen King Championship and handling Public Relations for the Fukuoka Ramen Show. He also regularly writes articles for ‘The Guardian’.https://www.theguardian.com