Today I finally went to Misen to try their Taiwan ramen. Now, many of my students had recommended this place to me back when I was a teacher. I’ve tried to go a couple of times before, but for various reasons (It was closed a few times, the line is often really long) I hadn’t made it yet. Boy, was I remiss.
It’s like this: Taiwan ramen is one of the many foods Nagoya is famous for. It originated here and not in Taiwan. (In fact, as I have just learned now writing this, it originated at Misen.) I’ve had some fantastic bowls of the stuff elsewhere in the city already, so I didn’t think it was that important to go there. In fact, there’s even a nice place just around the corner from my place that specializes in the stuff, 味園 (ajien). (This person here reviewed it). And a couple of weeks ago I went to this fantastic place (如水 Nyosui? I’m not 100% sure of the reading) with a really laid-back atmosphere that specialized in a tsukemen version of it. (Tsukemen is where the noodles and soup are separated, and you dip your noodles and other gu (ingredients) into the soup manually).
But Misen is on another level altogether. It’s a really brightly lit place with a very Chinese style. Very loud with lots of small tables, but neatly arranged and clean. There are five or six folks standing in front of the kitchen counter ready to heed the call of a customer who wants to order or pay their bill. As soon as you sit down, you get a nice big glass bottle of water, which you’ll be needing. The Taiwan ramen itself comes in a rather small bowl for ramen standards, but it’s chock full of noodles and so the soup volume is a little bit meager. But that’s ok, because the flavor makes up for it. Taiwan ramen is characterized by spicy soup with moyashi (bean sprouts), negi (big long Japanese green onions) and minced pork. What made this a heavenly bowl was a) the perfect level of spiciness and b) the noodles’ texture. It was hot enough that I needed the whole bottle of water, and the noodles were probably about 1.8mm, and my favorite consistency, just like Hakata noodles. This is a noisy place, and so not a good place to sit and think, but this I did, and I started to consider doing a Henry’s on this sucker. I counted the number of items on the menu on the wall and came up with 92, so it’s about the same magnitude. I think I’ll do a few more exploratory missions before I commit to something like that, though.
As a post-script, in writing this post I found that the original Misen isn’t in fact the one I went to in Oosu, but it’s in Imaike, which is a little closer to my house. So I’ll have to try that one.
Also, I found this site of this person who did a bunch of ramen reviews in Nagoya. I’ve only been to like three or four of the places he’s reviewed, so it looks like I have my work cut out for me.
Finally, I want to mention that I’ve updated my Japanese page, and I intend to try to say something on it every day, to practice my Japanese, so if you can read Japanese, please take a look and, most of all, please fix my mistakes if you get the chance!