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つけめん TETSU/西日暮里


Tetsu is located about 10 minutes walk southwest from Nishi Nippori station on the JR Yamanote line. At 2 PM on a Saturday there was a line of about 10 people in front, however I have seen it much longer, 30-40 people. The place has 10 seats inside. The ticket machine is actually outside the store, it's that small. I ordered the tsukemen atsumori or "つけあつ". This is a total of 400g of noodles that is delivered in two separate bowls (separate from the dipping broth). The first bowl (200g) is warm noodles in a thin broth made with katsuobushi. The second bowl (200g) contains the same amount of noodles but served cold in no broth, normal tsukemen style. The omori ticket on the machine will bump this total up to 500g (> 1 lb) of noodles. The thick shiru pork and fish dipping sauce was generously portioned - it had a very rich taste and a thick kotteri texture slightly reminiscent of Tenkaippin. This broth was drinkable directly from the bowl, it was that good. The chashu topping that I ordered (250 yen) was cut up and put in the bowl for me. It tasted good but it was then harder to evaluate its fattiness/level of grilling, etc. The noodles were correctly done, slightly katame. But this place also has two small touches that set it apart from other tsukemen shops. One of them is that the hot noodle water ("yu") that you are sometimes offered to heat up your leftover shiru was already on the counter in thermos pitchers, that was convenient, most places bring it to you when they think you need it, in a little cup or pitcher. A more interesting innovation is the yaki-ishii (焼き石) that you will be offered near the end of your meal, pictured in the photograph above. This is a heated rock (actually on closer inspection it might be metal, "tetsu" = iron, although I didn't see the correct kanji 鉄 anywhere, but I'm not sure) that is served to you on a little dish, you then put it in your remaining shiru to keep it hot, it fizzes and bubbles, while you are finishing off your noodles. Definitely recommended.

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