This is the new Taishoken in Higashi Ikebukero that opened in February to much acclaim, and to some, rather unexpectedly. The original Higashi Ikebukero Taishoken was finally knocked down last year (after one stay of execution if memory serves) to make way for one of the usual glass and concrete monstrosities. The founder of Taishoken and the supposed inventor of tsukemen, Yamagishi-san, sits outside this restaurant on days both cold and not-so-cold, chatting with customers and greeting them with a "domo, ki o tsukete" when they exit. Someone behind me on line who presumably didn't know who he was asked him to make change for a 10000 yen note. You can see Yamagishi-san on the left of one of the pictures above. Occasionally while I was waiting a customer or two asked to have his or her picture taken with him. I've walked past this place two or three times since the opening but didn't have the time to stop and try it until today, the line has been 20-30 people long each time. Well I am glad to say that the line moves quite quickly actually, an average of one person every 1-2 minutes I think. Be sure to get your ticket *before* you get on line, I had the mori chashu (もりちゃーしゅう, middle ticket on top row) which is a quite sweet tsukemen broth (from yuzu I believe) with a medium-sized helping of glassy light-colored noodles that sort of look like spaghetti but are much softer after cooking. All Taishoken's broths taste like this. Probably one of the sweeter broths around. A few menmas and negis and half of a boiled egg also, but that's it. There were only two pieces of chashu in the bowl and they were decent, but for the price (1000 yen) I think there could have been a bigger portion, I guess that explains why people were coming in and out so fast. The interior of the place is nice, newly constructed, 11-12 seats at the counter and 4 or 5 tables for 2, with photographs and hand-drawn pictures of Yamagishi-san and the old original Taishoken on the walls. If the line here is too long you could always walk down the back street to Kuro Nabe. The Taishoken on the other side of Ikebukero Station and the one next to Ikebukero Jiro serve roughly the exact same dish with crowds but no serious line, people are coming here for the novelty factor. I think Taishoken is good food and I give it a recommended rating based on this, however I can't say that it is the best tsukemen in Tokyo.
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