Z Blog: Friday Ramen and Coconut Ice Cream in Tokyo

You probably know this already — but for some reason, the Consular Section often has the most fun digs — not limited to potlucks, birthday cakes, caroling contests, Halloween whatever, improv-haiku performances karaokes, and now, ramen lovers!   

From US Embassy Tokyo’s Z Blog by DCM Jim Zumwalt:

Every Friday at 1 p.m., a group of Embassy ramen lovers assembles in our Consular Section to venture out and explore the neighborhood ramen shops. Working in central Tokyo, Embassy employees have plenty of choices for eating Japanese-style Chinese noodles.

Three of our Consular Section employees – Andy Utschig, Hitoshi Sekino, and Kaoru Takatsuka – select the noodle shop we will visit each week. Over the past nine months, they have led this group to taste the ramen at over 35 establishments. While the number of ramen tasters varies each week, usually about 8-10 American and Japanese staff members venture out to a chosen restaurant.

Photo from US Embassy Tokyo’s Z Blog

At the end of the meal, participants rate the ramen shop based on flavor, volume, service and atmosphere. The survey results are then sent to Embassy employees so those who missed the outing can still visit the restaurant on their own.

I recently joined the Friday Ramen group to visit a noodle shop in Akasaka. It had just started to drizzle slightly as we began our 10-minute walk to the shop. Having forgotten my umbrella, I walked briskly to avoid getting too wet. We arrived at the noodle shop, and the owner greeted us with a friendly “irrashai!” I ordered the soy-sauce flavored broth with roast pork (chashu shoyu ramen), and it was delicious. I am always amazed at how quickly Japanese ramen chefs can prepare such a large number of bowls of noodles during the busy lunch hour.

I felt especially lucky that day as the shop was advertising a special in their window. All customers would receive free homemade coconut ice cream on rainy days. Although the rain had already stopped by the time we arrived, the nice owner agreed to serve us the free dessert anyway. I did not mind getting slightly wet after eating the cool and creamy ice cream.

Check out Jim Zumwalt’s posts at Z Blog.