Thursday, January 21, 2016

Taiyō no Tomato

I don't always eat ramen, but when I do, I eat tomato ramen.

To be perfectly clear, I almost never eat ramen. It's heavy, salty and oily, and I'm still detoxing from eight years of living in Setagaya near a particularly ramen-heavy stretch of Kannana Street. I make an exception, however, for the ramen at Taiyō no Tomato. 

Pictured here: Tomato cheese ramen set "A"
Taiyō no Tomato (meaning "Tomato of the Sun") is a Kanto-area chain of restaurants specializing in ramen that ditches the typical Japanese soup (salt, miso, soy sauce, pork bone, etc.) and throws in Western elements like tomato soup, eggplant, cheese and basil. As East-meets-West fusions go, it's pretty good. Recently the chain has grown overseas to include locations in Taipei and Hong Kong.

Let me tell you a few things about eating at Taiyō no Tomato:
  1. It's kind of like the print-club section of the game center: Be ready to feel weird if you go stag. The Shinjuku MyLord location is pretty much always populated with 90% women and 10% couples. Every time I visit on my own, I'm the only man seated alone. Apparently tomato ramen isn't a very macho food.
  2. You will, with absolute certainty, burn your mouth on the stuff. Hot ramen plus molten cheese equals delicious nerve damage to the inside of your mouth.
  3. Get the cheese gyoza (pictured at right in the photo above). Your heart will frown in disapproval at all the cholesterol, but your stomach will look up at you as if in a trance and say, "thank you sir may I have another."
  4. As dictated by Taiyō no Tomato's cultural norms, save the rice that comes with your ramen. After you've eaten the noodles, spoon the remaining soup onto the rice to form a hidden dish: risotto.

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