RAMEN BŌKEN 6 | FIRST TIME TAN-TAN MEN「Haikyū week」
Who would have imagined that a week dedicated to a sports shōnen would even include a food post? Not me anyway… This is the exploit achieved by Haikyū and I will explain how.
March 2016. Quietly in my bed, I watch an episode of the anime. While Oikawa, Aoba Johsai’s captain “the bad guys” 😀 is about to perform the first service of the match, his third year team-mates shout some dishes names :
Vegeta* : Nice serve!
Iwaizumi : Shōyu!
Hanamaki : Tonkotsu!
Matsukawa : Tantan-Men!
“Wait… What? Wowowowooo”. That was my instant reaction back then. Shōyu I know what it is, it’s soy sauce based ramen. Tonkotsu, it’s my thing, it’s my favorite ramen type. However regarding the tantan-men, I’m in totally unknown territory.
* His name is Kindaichi but the first time I saw him I thought “hey, it’s Vegeta??!!?”… so now, I can’t call him anything else.
So I did what anyone would have done in my place : I pressed “pause”, I opened a new tab and hit “tantan men” into the search bar. Then I started drooling like crazy at the sight of the images…
Septembre 2016. I stroll along the Yamate Dōri in Tokyo when I come across a restaurant that offers the famous dish. At that time it was about 30°C so apart from water, fruits and possibly raw fish and grilled meats, I couldn’t consider the adventure too much. But it was definitely anchored in a corner of my head.
December 2016. I’m back in Tokyo and only have a few days left. Without hesitation, I push the restaurant doors…
Let’s cut to the chase! Verdict :
Normally I talk about every element – noodles, soup, meat, toppings… – but right now, I don’t know where to start. Here is a beautiful illustration of the face I probably made when eating the first bite :
I had the impression of eating a contradiction. Between my palate and my taste buds, I felt that a conflict was taking place.
To give you an idea, it was beyond not good : it was unlikely. It was an unexpected blend of flavors that had nothing to do with each other : imagine mustard, lemon peel, vinegar, peanut, chilli, cumin, berries. It’s a clash in your mouth, you can only say to yourself “Find a damn agreement! I have nothing to do with it!!!”.
I felt this meal was going to be loooong… The noodles : I wouldn’t be able to say whether they were stodgy by nature or whether it was the soup in which they were bathing that made them so.
The soup : Imagine a peanut sauce like mafé or saté but a little more liquid. Add some pepper. Add some oil. Finally, sprinkle everything with a mixture of whatever else (Spices, condiments, washing powder…). You get a war, both in terms of taste and texture.
This mixture, in my opinion, revealed all the defects of the ingredients : for example, pepper can enhance a dish ; the disadvantage is that it stings, even burns. The peanut sauce is creamy or pasty : on a bed of rice, no problem. In a tantan-men, it’s play-doh in your mouth…
The meat : I don’t remember there was any, I was in such a pain.
Toppings : like the meat, sunk in swamp of sadness… shout out to ig up Artax, Atryu,…
The plusses : a very pleasant service, a cozy atmosphere inside the restaurant and the included bowl of rice which alleviates your sorrows.
In conclusion : a sounding fiasco! I don’t know what to blame : the restaurant, the food wasn’t good? My choice, the dish chosen would be “special” ie a little too much? The lack of education of my palate?
I’ll leave the benefit of the doubt and conclude it was a mix of the 2nd and 3rd options. In any case, I don’t think I’ll be back again soon!