June 21, 2012
Matsunami Ramen was my first stop in Tokyo after a 9-day long trip of a lifetime to Darjeeling, India (more on that later). I was in Darjeeling and Tokyo on business but I was able to squeeze in a lot of culinary excitement into the trip.
After eating spicy curries in India, and fresh herbs I had never heard of before, I wanted my first meal in Tokyo to be familiar and yasashii (easy and kind). My work colleague took me to Matsunami Ramen in one of the many up-and-coming gu-ru-me (gourmet) neighborhoods in Tokyo called Wakabayashi. Situated along the charming Setagaya Tram Line, this neighborhood is as charming as west Tokyo is going to get.
Matsunami Ramen, exterior
Upon my arrival into Tokyo last week, they were already entering tsuyu (East Asian rainy season). Temperatures were surprisingly low — which was a welcome relief from 120˚F temperatures in Delhi. On approach to Matsunami, with umbrellas in hand, the store had a few parties waiting before us.
The simple menu consists of tsukemen (ramen with dipping sauce), chashyu-men (with roasted pork), wonton-men, tan tan-men (spicy with ground pork), shina-soba (Chinese-style ramen with interesting etymology here) and tokushin-men (all-in ramen; literally it means “speaks to your soul”).
I chose the wonton-men.
The broth. My god. The fish broth! After some intense flavors in India, this was silky, smooth and full of fish umami. As it was my first meal in Tokyo, I also noticed how sweet the palate is in Japan. I am not a huge fan of tonkotsu, so I was sold on the fish-based soup. The depth of the flavor was reflected in the aroma engulfing my face as I dove right in. It felt like I was sleeping in a warm goose-down comforter full of friendly fishes in the sea.
Yes, sleep was on my mind…
The menu also consists of a few appetizers that will be explored another time, not right after a long flight.
There are a billion great choices for ramen in Tokyo, but if you are in the neighborhood of Wakabayashi and want to escape from the BIG! CITY! fluorescence of Tokyo, I suggest giving this place a try. Its warm, wood interior, friendly staff and umamiful fish broth are all yasashii to the senses.
3-19-7 Wakabayashi, Setagaya
T: +81 3-5787-8789