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Aug 8, 2005 04:01 AM

Tsukemen (Ramen Dipper) @ Ryowa, Berkeley

  • m

Recently I had a chance to satisfy my curiousity about what "Ramen Dipper", $6.50, offered by Ryowa might be. That's what it's called on signs with photos posted around the restaurant. On the menu, it's shown as "Tsukemen". This style of ramen with noodles and soup served separately is said to have been invented by Taishoken in Tokyo.

Unlike the descriptions I've read of Taishoken's tsukemen, Ryowa has the add-ins with the cold noodles and not in the soup. The wider and firmer extra grade "special noodles" are used for this dish and topped with bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, wakame, shredded nori, half a hard-cooked egg, and thick cuts of fatty cha su roast pork, all cold or room temperature. The small bowl contained a very concentrated shoyu-flavored stock with chopped scallions and sesame seeds.

To eat this, you dip chopstick-fuls of the noodle mix into the hot stock to flavor and warm it. It's actually a little clumsy. I tried putting a larger portion into the soup bowl, however, the stock is so reduced and salty that more than a quick dip in this potion makes the noodles too intensely flavored to eat. Also, the other ingredients fall to the bottom and its hard to get them together again in one bite. After a while, the small volume of soup stock cools down quickly too.

The special noodles were elastic and firm, just great. The pieces of cha su seemed fattier and more tender when cut in this fashion versus the cross cuts used in the regular ramen. Yet, while I liked the flavor and enjoyed trying this, I'm not sure that with the work it takes to eat I'd order it again. It's certainly worth a try for the experience.

I noticed that the tubs of kimchi on the tabletops were gone. Now you request kimchi and receive a small portion. Also, there was a notice posted that Ryowa's liquor license had been temporarily suspended. It should have been reinstated by now.


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3. Ryowa, Berkeley
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39.Bear’s Ramen House, Berkeley
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Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

Image: http://home.earthlink.net/~melaniewon...

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  1. Tsukemen was one of my favorite foods when I was doing a lot travelling to and from Okinawa back in the 80's. I was never able to find it anywhere until I came upon this post today. Now I must hurry over there to try it. Though from the picture it does look different, it may be because it is not exactly the Okinawa style. The detailed description does sound like what I've been missing for so long. Thanks Melanie for the info.

    4 Replies
    1. re: dd

      I had the opportunity to try something like this on Okinawa in 1968. It was served more as a bar food, and consisted of pre-cooked soba without garnish, and a bowl of strong miso broth (I'm guessing it was miso). There were several sides served separately, similar as I recall to Korean sides. I remember pickled udon, that's about it. Procedure was to add a little side dish to a pinch of noodles, dip to heat and soften, and eat. This was before I ever learned to use chopsticks, and having taken on board a considerable volume of beer, I was something of a spectacle.

      The Japanese historical dramas I've seen on TV often show people eating exactly the same thing, served in roadhouses and inns.

      1. re: dd
        Melanie Wong

        It was new to me. Didn't know anything about it until I got home from Ryowa and googled. Any hints for fumble fingers like Shep and me to eat this more gracefully?

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          Although I have attained a child's competence with k'uai-tzu, I find it expedient to carry at all times a small set of tongs, such as might be used for ice cubes, to assist in moments of noodle crisis. (^_^)

          1. re: Shep

            Chopstick panic
            Noodles dropping into lap
            Thus the link below.

            Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

      2. awesome. thanks for putting all the links to your previous reviews. saves me some time.

        I've always wanted to try the real taishoken tsukemen...

        1. Fantastic report! Look forward to trying some of this stuff for myself