September 8, 2014
Menya Musashi’s namesake is one Miyamoto Musashi, regarded as one of Japan’s greatest swordsmen and creator of the two-handed swordfighting technique niten-ryu, which translates to “Tarantino Wet Dream.” According to legend he never lost a duel in over 50 years as a wandering warrior — which I am inclined to believe since back then you could embellish a dragon killing into a story at will. When he wasn’t fighting wars or defending his honor in solo battle he found time to write books on fighting, presumably hoping to teach future swordsmen how to give him a freaking challenge.
Oh, and he was Chuck Norris’s dad.
A week before he died he penned his final work, Dokkodo, a collection of twenty one aphorisms for living a solitary life devoted to honor. In glancing over the list I can safely say I follow no less than two of them on a daily basis.
But one I do not follow, ever, is lucky #13: do not pursue the taste of good food.
Enter Menya Musashi, like its namesake regarded as one of the greatest of its generation. Only we’re talking about ramen-ya’s now. Any brief google for “ramen Shinjuku” brings Musashi up, and it’s been on my hit list for at least six months. I finally went today after a quick bike ride into Shibuya to pay my rent. I only mention that because I have no idea what finally drove me to go to Menya Musashi, and I’m as confused by the random decision as anything else in life. I’ve lived ten minutes away from the original shop (they now have six or seven around Tokyo, and one in Singapore) since January. But what the hell, I finally made it to the side street just north of Shinjuku station on the west side of the tracks.
The connection to Musashi is their double-bladed broth made from a sweet soy-based pork and chicken tonkotsu blended with a tart dried fish broth. It’s not quite gyokai (radical); the half-and-half pork/fish ramen version of tsukemen leans more towards the pig end of the spectrum. But the aroma of dried fish is unmistakable and a priceless addition to this, uh, $10 bowl (1030 yen).
Thankfully you can up the noodle quotient to ‘large’ size at no additional cost, and you get to specify the soup strength when you sit at one of the 16 counter seats. Of course I went with ‘large’ and ‘strong’, though of course I’m not trying to compensate for anything.
That hunk of pig up front isn’t actually pork — it’s obviously formed simply by freezing the broth, because there’s no way actual pig could melt in your mouth that easily. You don’t need one of Musashi’s blades to cut through that thing… you don’t even need a duplo.
I could throw buckets of adjectives at the broth. But out of respect for Musashi’s ascetic lifestyle I’ll just say this: the broth is perfect.
I’m not saying this is best ramen in the world, or the best I’ve ever had. But it’s perfect. It’s not trying to taste like everything. It’s just trying to taste like a well-balanced deep tonkotsu and fish blend. And… it’s perfect. I might not always want to eat this ramen, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis (sorry couldn’t resist).
I mean when I do want this type of ramen, it’s exactly what I desire. I ate the whole thing and wanted seconds. The medium-thick egg noodles taste fantastically fresh, but honestly you could dip shoelaces in that broth. Or burnt hair. It doesn’t matter. I ate the whole thing and could have had seconds.
#2: Do not seek pleasure for its own sake
Check out the Ramen Shaman Map!
7-2-5 Nishishinjuku K1 Bldg.