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Motoishi is a an example of something that I have seen occasionally recently, a "mensakaba" or "noodle and sake place". (麺酒場). In Motoishi's case they refer to it as "sakemen". Places like this pose as ramen shops during the day (although they will frequently serve other things during the lunch period) and then they change into izakayas at night (often serving noodle dishes at that time too, although they may not have the same noodle menu during the evening as they have during the day).

Another example of a "mensakaba" would be Kamachi in Ebisu.

The Ramen Lovers Club had not convened a meeting in about 3 or 4 months and we were long overdue. Motoishi is about 3-4 minutes walk south east from JR Kanda Station. It has two floors, the first is a counter set-up and upstairs they have several tables of various configurations. The first floor can get very smoky in the evening as they have some yakisoba-type dishes they make there in the kitchen as described below.

There are two items of interest on the menu here: the first one is a very richly-flavored tsukemen and the second is a special dish called yakijiro. Pictures of the complete menus are here and here. Firstly, as for the tsukemen, the differences between this and other gyoukai tonkotsu tsukemens are that 1) this one has a large amount of tasty tama negi onions in it, along with plenty more on the counter, 2) that this broth has shredded pork in it, sometimes referred to as a little hokuji meatball, and 3) they add some sort of thick oil to the top, or it bubbles up from the soup as it settles and separates in the bowl. The noodles are good but not special. The second item is very different and fairly creative, I'm suprised other shops haven't done this yet. It's called "yakijiro" (焼きじろう) and it is what the name suggests, just all of the components that make up a real bowl of Jiro (noodles, pork, garlic, moyashi, abura, cabbage) all mixed up and grilled itame-style like yakisoba. A picture is above.

So which would I get again, having had both? They were both good but I would get the tsukemen, if choosing between the two. If you are a Jiro fan then the yakijiro might be a must-do for you - it was good, however I got the omori and the taste started getting a bit lost (especially due to the strong garlic), much too much after I was about 1/2-way through - it started getting lost in the texture of the noodles, especially as the dish cooled. I don't recommend the omori for this one, especially since you also get a small bowl of broth too, similar to the tsukemen broth. Interestingly enough, they do sell out of the yakijiro occasionally according to the waitstaff. They also have various types of yakiniku, other inexpensive izakaya-type dishes etc. at night.

Our team of ramen hounds was also fortunate enough to be joined that evening by the illustrious Rick Kennedy, a long-time Tokyo native and well-known author of several books on Tokyo. We talked about many things, including ramen, and everyone had an enjoyable time. We definitely hope to have Rick back again for future Ramen Lovers Club meetings.

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