[Jack] Happy New Year! Welcome to our first post of 2012 and our first post from the Japan trip and... our first joint post! This was actually the second last dinner we had in Japan but I really wanted to start off the Japan posts with Mamezen. Due to being so busy with work I really didn't have much time to research food places for the Japan trip but Mamezen was one of the few gems that I was really keen to try. Why? Because they make a unique dish, Kyoto-style Dashi Soymilk Ramen. It sounded interesting and delicious and I just couldn't wait to check it out. In all aspects it far exceeded my expectations and it's an evening that I won't forget!
[Jess] Mamezen is not the easiest place to find although it is well worth the trip. As it was late we took a taxi from the centre of town with only a vague idea of where it was on our map and the address saved on Jack's phone. In a country like Japan, this is not an issue at all as everyone is SOOOO helpful and kind - here's what I mean: after driving around the small suburban streets with no sight of any restaurants, our taxi driver stopped the meter running but continued driving around. After 5 minutes without any luck, he called the restaurant and took us to the front door, charging us from when he had stopped the meter 10 minutes earlier. How awesome is that!! But anyway, back to Mamezen....
[Jack] We went through the outer door and walked down what looked to be a little garden pathway to the restaurant. It was dark, but I imagine this would be very pretty during the day. Even though it was dark, it felt serene and peaceful and this was the same lovely atmosphere we found when we entered the restaurant. It's a small restaurant that seats just a handful of diners at the counter and a few small tables on the tatami floor. But it feels spacious and bright, I like the atmosphere and am excited about our upcoming meal.
[Jack] The team at Mamezen consists of chef Minoru Yonekawa and his wife Mitsue Yonekawa. They are two of the loveliest people you could meet and really made our meal that much more special. Despite knowing only a little english, Mitsue endeavoured to converse with us and we had a lovely conversation peppered with numerous "ano's" (Japanese for "umm") and phrase-book-flipping-pauses as Jess and I struggled to find our inner Japanese. As we were obviously tourists, Mitsue asked if we had found Mamezen on the web, I said yes and that I'd seen it on a blog and straight away she asked if it was Kyoto Foodie, which was indeed correct. She continued to explain that since KyotoFoodie posted about Mamezen many foreigners came to eat there, especially vegetarians.
[Jess] The ramen at Mamezen is lovingly prepared - it's pretty much the only dish on the menu and is so simple, but the care that has gone into the preparation of the noodles, broth and the overall dish can be felt when you eat it as it gives you a warm, satisfying feeling. I loved that the broth had an ever so slight zesty taste to it from the yuzu peel and the umeboshi plum on top which worked so well with the milky broth.
[Jack] Totally agree with Jess - every component of this tonyu ramen works perfectly together so that no one flavour overpowers the dish. It is instantly my new favourite ramen! Don't get me wrong, I love a good tonkotsu with it's pork-some soup but Mamezen is really something special, kind of like a heavenly and pure ramen. You really have to taste it and then you'll know what all the fuss is about!
[Jess] Yep our clean bowls at the end were testament to how good the ramen was. Add to that, that one of Dave's big holiday regrets was not ordering a large bowl, it was clear we had all fallen in love with soy milk ramen at Mamezen. It goes without saying that if we are ever in Kyoto we will definitely go back, in fact we would return to Kyoto just for Mamezen.
|Is that a clean bowl? Nope.. it's a post-Mamezen Soymilk Ramen bowl! Cause every last drop of soup is too oishii to leave behind!|
What: Mamezen's Kyoto-style Dashi Soymilk Ramen
Where: Kyoto-shi, Sakyo-ku, Shimogamo, Higashi Takagi-cho 13-4 (京都市左京区下鴨東高木町13-4). See the Kyoto Foodie post for more detailed information or you can also check out their facebook page
How much: Soymilk ramen comes in 3 sizes - small (60gm, 840yen), normal (90gm, 950yen) and large (120gm, 1050yen). Lunch sets are available as well as a daily kid's set menu. There are also a couple of desserts on offer which I will try next time!