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Japanese Inspired Food and Lifestyle Magazine

Steaming Bowls of

RAMEN TRAVEL: Osaka MUSIC: D’espairsRay UMAI LABS: Yatai Dining RECIPE: Seafood Yakisoba

July & August 2010 Vol. 06 Seattle / Bellevue / Portland

2nd feature


from the Streets of Tokyo



FEATURE 4 Steaming Bowls of Ramen

Seattle has finally reached critical mass when it comes to ramen shops. From Greenwood to University District to Capitol Hill to the ID, steaming, inexpensive and delicious bowls of ramen await.


Fashion from the Streets of Tokyo

The Tokyo Girls Collection is a colorful, innovative and high-tech celebration of Japan’s street fashion.



10 18

Restaurant Directory Umai Lab

Seafood yakisoba (fried soba noodles) with soy sauce & vinegar dressing Fried eggplant served with dashi soup

The yatai, an outdoor cart that food purveyors use in Japan, is the place to start your summer dining.


LIFESTYLE 13 14 20

i fart rainbow Store & School Directory


The country’s second city and culinary capital is the right place to have seconds.

Music: D’espairsRay Place: ageHa earns the title of a ‘Super Club’

Momo: A unique boutique in Seattle’s Japantown

Travel — Osaka

Food: New Zojirushi All-Stainless Food Jar


The Sun Shines on Ecore Global


Local News and Events

One Seattle business sees massive opportunity in environmental sustainability.


IBUKI Magazine Vol.06 July & August 2010 Publisher Misa Murohashi English Cartier Editor-in-Chief Bruce Rutledge Editor and Translator Yuko Enomoto Cover Photograph Provided by Fukuoka City

Contributing Writers & Artists Enfu (Ken Taya) Julian Waters Jessica Sattell Rose Special Thanks Chin Music Press

Published by Axia Media Group, Inc. Bellevue, WA 98005 Comments and general inquiries Advertising Info 3


Steaming Bowls of

Ramen By Bruce Rutledge


y one estimate, Japan has 45,000 ramen shops. We’re not talking restaurants with ramen on the menu — that’s 45,000 shops that serve nothing but ramen ... and perhaps a side of potstickers. In contrast, you can count the number of ramen-only shops in Seattle on one hand. Yet after several weeks of sampling ramen everywhere from Greenwood to Capitol Hill to the International District, I must respectfully disagree with the foodies who write on Yelp and other restaurant review sites that you have to go to Vancouver for a good bowl of ramen. Not true. What I witnessed in the last few weeks of slurping ramen noodles, besides an expanding waistline, was plenty of innovation and dedication to getting ramen right in Seattle. I also witnessed chefs that were more than willing to go out of their way to accommodate vegetarians, vegans and others with dietary restrictions — I’m betting not a lot of those 45,000 shops in Japan do that. While ramen is still relatively rare in Seattle, it has reached a critical mass. Expect more innovation, more choices, more competition. As one restaurant owner who asked to remain anonymous put it: “Ramen is like pizza. It could be everywhere. It could be bigger than sushi.” A sign of this critical mass is that ramen shops are looking for ways to stand out. Chef Lorenzo Rangel of Aloha Ramen in Greenwood tops his steaming bowls of noodles with delicious fresh bamboo grown in his garden. Chef Jonathan Hunt of Boom Noodle eyes trends in Japan and

4 息吹 ibuki • July / august 2010

riffs off them. When he heard that Tokyo shops were starting to serve salt and yuzu ramen, he came up with a delicious egg-drop yuzu ramen for Boom. Kushibar in Belltown serves up a tasty vegetarian bowl with shiitake and enoki mushrooms, asparagus, corn and green onions. Traditionalists can find their fix too. Whether it’s a bowl of shoyu-butter ramen served up by Mr. Kuroda at Maekawa Bar in the International District, the perfectly grilled potstickers at Fulin across the street, the tasty bowls of shoyu ramen served up from 12 to 2 on Fridays at Tsukushinbo or the creamy-white tonkotsu ramen at Samurai Noodle and Kaname, the staple ramens of Japan can be enjoyed in Seattle. The east side is getting into the act too. Dozo Cafe serves steaming bowls of ramen without a hint of MSG. New Zen Japanese Restaurant serves tonkotsu ramen, and Kiku Sushi of Bellevue delivers the hearty Nagasaki chanpon ramen. In short, ramen has arrived in Seattle. And it’s going to get better and better. Boom Noodle is planning Boom Express, a smaller outlet more like a Japanese ramen shop that serves only noodle dishes. Samurai plans a new Seattle store, but can’t say which neighborhood will be the beneficiary just yet. As the competition heats up, chefs will look for that competitive edge that keeps ramen lovers coming back. Seattle, the ramen slurping has only just begun. On the next few pages, we highlight some of the restaurants serving ramen in the greater Seattle area.

Sapporo Miso Ramen

Hakata Tonkotsu (pork-bone broth)


Fukuoka City is famous for its rich, milky pork-bone tonkotsu ramen, typically with thin, non-curly and resilient noodles. Photo: Provided by Fukuoka City.

The regionalty and variety of ramen

Nagasaki Chanpon

Chanpon is a unique style of ramen that includes seafood, vegetables, pork and pan-fried noodles that are boiled toFukuoka gether with the other ingredients. The soup is typically shio (salt) flavor with pork-bone and chicken broth. Nagasaki Photo: Chanpon at Kiku Sushi

Sapporo ramen has a rich miso flavor and is typically topped with sweet corn, butter and bean sprouts. Photo: Miso ramen at Samurai Noodle.


Almost every locality in Japan has its own style of ramen. Here are the most popular and typical kinds of ramen from four cities in Japan. Tokyo Shoyu Ramen

Tokyo style ramen is clear shoyu (soy sauce) flavored soup with chicken broth. Photo: Tampopo ramen at Samurai Noodle. 5


Kushibar 2319 2nd Ave., Seattle 206-448-2488


Samurai Noodle


4138 University Way NE, Seattle 206-547-1774

INTERNATIONAL DISTRICT 606 5th Ave. S, Seattle 206-624-9321

Looking for a big, hearty meal on the fly? Swing by Kushibar in Belltown for a bowl of ramen at a picnic table. Kushibar specializes in Japanese street food, and there’s nothing quite as “street” as a bowl of ramen. Unlike Japan’s ramen shops, however, Kushibar takes special care to offer a tasty vegetarian option: Its enoki ramen is egg noodles in a vegetarian broth with enoki and shiitake mushrooms, asparagus, bean sprouts, corn and green onions. A bowl of ramen at lunchtime is just $8. Kushibar also offers soy sauce, miso, tonkotsu and shio, or salt, ramen. While most ramen in Japan is served in a soup that’s half to two-thirds pork-based, Kushibar’s house ramen uses a two parts chicken, one part pork soup that creates a lighter taste. Traditionalists will find plenty to like here, too, whether for lunch or at the end of a night of drinking in Belltown.

Samurai Noodle is probably the best-known ramen shop in Seattle because it has been serving bowls of noodles in its International Distrct shop since 2006. As of this year, it has expanded to the University District, and the owners say they have plans for a third shop, although they wouldn’t divulge the location. The tonkotsu ramen is creamy and rich, the miso ramen has flavorful depth and the tampopo ramen is a tasty soy-sauce ramen with a luxurious array of toppings. When the owners opened their University District shop earlier in 2010, they admitted to being overwhelmed by the demand. Lines formed out the door and down the block. Which just goes to show that the demand for ramen in Seattle is stronger than ever. Samurai has been the trendsetter, but it enjoys the competition. “We need more ramen shops to help educate people about what ramen is,” says one of the owners. We agree.

Tonkotsu ramen takes extra time to make the creamy, rich soup taste just right. Samurai serves one of the best versions in the city.

Kushibar’s picnic-style dining room is reminiscent of those cozy little eateries under the train tracks in Japan. The house ramen, pictured above, features noodles in a chicken and pork broth, braised chashu pork, sweet corn, egg, sprouts, roasted seaweed and scallions.

6 息吹 ibuki • July / august 2010

The tampopo ramen at Samurai Noodle comes in a clear soysauce broth, Tokyo style.

Maekawa Bar

Aloha Ramen

601 S. King St., Seattle 206-622-0634

8102-B Greenwood Ave. N., Seattle 206-838-3837 After spending two decades as a chef at the Halekulani Hotel in Hawaii, Lorenzo Rangel moved to Seattle with his wife Reiko to be closer to their son. Rangel is an expert in French and Pacific Rim cuisine, but as an Okinawa native, he knows his ramen. The menu at Aloha Ramen speaks to both his Japanese roots and his long career as a chef. The staples — shoyu and miso ramen — are delicious, topped with fresh bamboo from the Rangels’ garden and homemade chashu pork. The difference fresh bamboo makes is surprising. Suddenly an oft-overlooked ingredient becomes a highlight of the meal. Rangel also shows off his culinary chops with his black sesame ramen, the spicy tantan ramen and the tofu-based tonyo ramen. The bowls are all about $8. Try a side of homemade potstickers too. Reiko, an Osaka native, presides over the cozy dining room. She says she’s influenced her husband over the years to make ramen in the Kansai style, which uses less salt than Tokyo ramen shops.


On Mondays through Thursdays, Chef Kuroda of Maekawa Bar in Seattle’s International District spends seven hours slaving over a chicken stock with onions, garlic and carrots that ends up as the soup for his shoyu ramen. Maekawa Bar is an izakaya, or a Japanese tapas bar, with an extensive menu, but Kuroda-san’s ramen is one of the highlights. Try the shoyu-butter ramen -- the tab of butter mellows the soup and changes the flavor profile a bit. Kuroda says it’s popular with the bar’s American guests. And if you’re really hungry, go for the ramen with everything, which includes a whole host of ingredients including hardboiled egg, seaweed, green onions, bamboo and braised pork slices. Kuroda doesn’t serve the ramen on Friday and Saturday because the bar gets so busy, he can’t spend enough time on the soup, so make sure you drop by on a weekday to try a bowl.




610 S. Jackson St., Seattle 206-682-1828

The house specialty in this izakaya is a tonkotsu ramen that takes two days to prepare so that the marrow of the pork bones turns the soup a creamy white. Owner and Chef Todd Kuniyuki hired an expert in this style of ramen from Japan and worked with him for two months to perfect the soup. Tonkotsu, one of the most demanding ramen types, is a favorite on the isle of Kyushu. Kaname offers its tonkotsu with miso or shio (salt) flavoring. There are limited quantities each night, so if you’re heading here with tonkotsu in mind, arrive as early as you can.

The black sesame ramen from Aloha is a good example of the innovative approach of Chef Rangel.

Aloha’s tonyo ramen has a rich, white soup similar to the porkbased tonkotsu ramen, but it is made with tofu. 7


Dozo Cafe

New Zen Japanese Restaurant

3720 Factoria Blvd SE, Bellevue (425) 644-8899

10720 SE Carr Rd., Renton 425-254-1599


Dozo Cafe opened earlier this year. Chef Lin doesn’t use MSG and makes his soup from scratch, letting it simmer for a long time to create that elusive blend of flavors and depth. The braised chashu pork and miso are also prepared right in Dozo’s kitchen. While the basic shoyu ramen is tasty, try some of the Chinese-influenced offerings such as tantan ramen or fuyohai (braised crab with egg whites) ramen. While tantan men is a staple of Chinese restaurant’s menus, the version served at Dozo Cafe is adjusted to the Japanese palate — the noodles are served al dente and the soup has an impressive depth. Dozo Cafe offers a unique Japanese twist on some standard Chinese noodle dishes.


New Zen has been serving Japanese dishes to the denizens of Renton since 1997. Just last year, they started serving a tasty tonkotsu-soy sauce ramen for $9.50. “The combination of tonkotsu and soy sauce makes the most delicious and best balanced soup,” says Yumiko-san, the owner of New Zen. The soup has depth without being overbearing. The slightly crinkly noodles combine perfectly with the soup. The homemade chashu pork is filling but not greasy. New Zen has a lot of repeat Japanese customers because its ramen is both delicious and filling. On your next pilgrimmage to the Renton Uwajimaya supermarket, why not swing by New Zen for a bowl?

Come Experience Japanese street food


2319 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA 98121 | (202) 448-2488 | Hours: Weekdays 11:30 am – 1am, Weekends 4 pm – 1am 8 息吹 ibuki • July / august 2010

Boom Noodle


504 Bellevue Way NE, Bellevue 425-453-6094

CAPITOL HILL 1121 E Pike St., Seattle 206-701-9130 NEWLY OPENED! 2675 NE Village Lane, Seattle 206-523-6594


Chef Jonathan Hunt has one eye on the culinary trends of Tokyo and another on his Seattle clientele, with all their dietary restrictions and requests. It’s a delicate balancing act, and when navigated successfully, it results in such delicious fare as this summer’s yuzu-eggdrop ramen, a tasty mix of egg-flour broth and yuzu, a Japanese citrus fruit with a tangy taste. Hunt heard that salt-yuzu ramen was becoming popular in Japan. “I instantly thought of the chicken soup my mom used to make when I was sick,” he says. “She’d drop an egg in it.” Add yuzu lemon, red chili flakes and shiso for brightness and you have a tasty bowl of noodles to join the extensive Boom menu. “Ramen is all about peak flavor,” Hunt says. “It’s about timing, almost like a souffle.” For a tradi-

Kiku Sushi

tional staple, try the miso ramen. “It’s much more complex than miso soup,” the chef says. “We blend lots of spices, black-bean paste, garlic, sake, whole butter and sansho pepper.” Or try the restaurant’s most popular bowl, Tokyo ramen (see photo), a soyseasoned chicken-pork broth with braised pork, sweet egg, bamboo shoots and green onions.


15555 NE 24th St, Bellevue 425-644-2358 Kiku Sushi next to the Bellevue Uwajimaya has been quietly serving delicious bowls of Nagasaki chanpon ramen for the last two years. It may be Bellevue’s biggest culinary secret. The $11.50 bowl of noodles only sounds pricey if you don’t know what’s in it: jumbo prawns, squid, kamaboko (a mixture of pureed white fish), cabbage, carrots, bean sprouts, mushrooms, corn, green beans, plus a variety of other vegetables and seafood selected by the chef. It’s quite a meal. Chef Hara, a Nagasaki native, blends pork and chicken stock in a fine balance to make a delicious soup. He uses thick noodles in the classic chanpon style. “When it comes to

chanpon, we’re the best,” Hara says. “There’ve been a lot of new ramen shops opening in the area, but as far as I know, we’re the only one serving Nagasaki chanpon. Those familiar with the Nagasaki version come to enjoy my chanpon ramen, but we also see Americans who have never tried it before enjoying this seafoodand vegetable-rich dish.” 9

IBUKI Magazine Vol.06 July & August 2010  

IBUKI Magazine provides a variety of information on Japan, including Japanese cuisine, traditional arts and the latest in pop culture.

IBUKI Magazine Vol.06 July & August 2010  

IBUKI Magazine provides a variety of information on Japan, including Japanese cuisine, traditional arts and the latest in pop culture.