Monday, April 24, 2017

Chugoku Sanyo, San-in 中国地方山陽、山陰 - Tsukemen Honbo Karabu Tokashi Branch つけ麺本舗 辛部 十日市店

Visited 24.04.2015 (Fri)

Noodle culture. There are many varieties of noodles dishes that Hiroshima is proud of. For example, Hiroshima Ramen which the soup is Tonkotsu shoyu sauce based, dried dandan noodles (汁なし担々麵) with chili oil and sichuan peppercorn and spicy version of Tsukemen (つけ麺). Tsukemen is the dry version of ramen in which the cold noodles (typically) and soup/broth are served separately. Being sipping the noodles, they are first dipped into the soup/broth, similar to how cold soba/udon is eaten. Tsukemen enjoyed with a spicy dipping broth is specialty of Hiroshima. Do not relate this spicy broth to any other Japanese curry you have eaten, which is usually very subtle in heat. The spiciness level of Hiroshima's tsukemen is definitely much way beyond that!

Give me Level 1. Followed a book recommendation and made our way to Tsukemen Honbo Karabu, which is just a stone throw away from Honkawa-cho streetcar station. The restaurant utilises the traditional counter seating arrangement and open kitchen concept where you can observe the dynamics in the kitchen while waiting for your food to be served. First, choose the size of noodle serving; from half portion, normal, 1.5 times, twice or thrice the normal portion. Being a small eater myself, I usually go order the half portion. Next, select the desired spiciness level of the dipping broth to go with the cold noodle.
The spiciness level ranges from 0 to 30:
  • Level 0 to 3: 普通, normal spiciness suitable for kids or people who are trying for the first time
  • Level 4 to 6: 辛い, spiciness level will generate a little sweat
  • Level 7 to 9: 中辛, medium spicy
  • Level 10 to 15: 大辛, very spicy, for people who are confident of their tolerance for spicy food
  • Level 16 to 20: 激辛, very very spicy
  • Level 21 to 25: 超辛, extremely spicy, to the point you will start tearing
  • Level 26 to 30: 猛辛, most spicy of all

I am not confident of the amount of heat I could handle, therefore decided to be conservative and chose Level 1. The cold noodle was served with two slices of char siew and covered by huge amount of cabbage and green onions. The soup base is flavoured by bonito and shoyu sauce, mixed with chili peppers, chili oil, vinegar and sesame. On first look, the dipping broth looks rather mild and "harmless", and was oozing fragrance of chili oil and sesame continuously, whetting my appetite. Coated my noodles with the dipping broth and enjoyed my first sip of tsukemen. The noodle was chewy and springy; and it did not taste spicy at first. Just when I thought I have over-estimated the spiciness level, the heat from the chili peppers and chili oil gradually crept in and swelled my lips! The numbing sensation is what you will get from eating mala hot pot and I have to admit that the it was quite good (or "shiok"). Char siew meat was tender, with the right amount of fats. Love the hearty serving of crunchy cabbage and green onions which elevated the taste further. Overall, I am pleased with the outcome of this food exploration as this is my first time eating tsukemen. This definitely falls into the list of food that I will want to eat again if I visit Hiroshima next time!  


Tsukemen Honbo Karabu Tokashi Branch つけ麺本舗 辛部 十日市店
Opening hrs: 1130 - 1500 hrs; 1800 - 0000 hrs

How to get there?

(1) By streetcar. Take Hiroden Streetcar 2 or 6 from Hiroshima Station and alight at Honkawa-cho (本川町). Less than a minute walk away from the streetcar station.

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