Monday, 16 April 2007 by kinakoJam
Takumi is a new-ish ramen restaurant in Duesseldorf, owned by brickny, the same company running those oases of nice rice, Relax Cafe and Kushi-tei.
No ramen sensei, me.
The best bowl I've ever had is still the one I had with Celia shortly after arriving in Japan for the first time back in '99. We drove through the industrial outskirts of Osaka and popped out in some steamy small ramen joint. I had Sapporo-style miso ramen topped with sweetcorn, butter, beansprouts, and the usual toppings. At the time it seemed insane to put butter on top of a soup containing instant noodles, but it was fucken good.
Spending a good deal more time in Japan and having of course seen the wonderful movie Tampopo (see still above), I still never really cracked the mysterious upper levels of ramen appreciation. I know that people track down hot restaurants on the internet and when one is burning, lines curl around the block like a long ramen noodle.
I read once that ramen is to the Japanese what the hamburger is to the US, and I will concede that it tastes its absolute best when you're drunk almost to the point of catatonia.
As to the finer points of the flavour, when not drunk, most times to me it tastes like a somewhat unremarkable soup containing some rather tasty morsels (dieting tip I learned when living at the temple in Akamon-cho: eat only the noodles and morsels and leave the oily soup in the dish as a slurping aid only)
So we checked out this joint Takumi in D-dorf, and it was pretty damn tasty. About 8 euros for a stomach-filling meal. Atmosphere was good, like a respectable Tokyo chain-restaurant style, scrubbed clean and replicable modern. Steamy. Filled with Japanese families. We were sitting by the service counter and the chahan (chinese-style fried rice) looked superb; I regretted not ordering it. The gyoza were a bit too modernistic (square-shaped parcels). The soup I don't feel qualified to rate in the universe of ramen, but it was good! I ordered my usual tonkotsu ramen.
Tonkotsu is comprised of a rich, milky, pork-bone tonkotsu broth and thin, non-curly and resilient noodles (seemed like long sōmen to me - thin white noodles made from wheat flour). I like that it comes with beni shoga (dark pink pickled ginger), and this one came topped with red chinese 'Kuko' seeds - which come from the 'matrimony vine', also known as 宁夏枸杞, Chinese Wolfberry, Duke of Argyll's Tea Tree, or Tibetan goji berry, and described on one website as 'eating recovering fatigue seeds'.
Another great condiment they offered was a small metal dispenser of a greenish paste made from sansho pepper and yuzu citrus. If you've ever tasted either of those foodstuffs, you'll be able to imagine the awesome, acrid citrus flavour: it was excellent mixed into the soup.
Although I am not a master ramen connoiseur, I can declare that although not sent into rapsodies of delight, while eating it I was completely absorbed and transported away from the material world into the ramen realm, which must always be the aim of a successful dish and a deep flavour no? Even when it comes to hamburgers.
Erik's miso ramen was better - the lightly sauteed veges on top and more abundance of tasty bits.
Next time we go there I plan to order the same as Erik but with the butter corn topping and eat ramen like it's 1999.
Ph. 0211 1793308
Erik's miso ramen (how do they cook the eggs so the white is so firm and broth-stained yet the yolks are liquid and glossy?):
Tsuke-men (dipping noodles)
Chahan fried rice
Tonkotsu money shot