Ichikanjin — as introduced in my Japan Times column last Friday — has become a bit of a favourite of ours. Mainly that's because it serves excellent ramen (more of which below). But more than that we like the feel of the place.
It's been decorated with more than a bit of style, complete with retro chandelier-type ceiling lamps and shelves of antique radios and cameras, and the sound system grooves to a constant soundtrack of bossa nova and jazz.
And then there is the appealingly whimsical motif of the little Chinese baby figurines. There are a couple of them by the door as you come in. And you'll find one peering up at you from the rim of your ramen bowl.
But bottom-line we like the food. We pretty much always start with an order of sui-gyoza. The standard version (with minced pork) is good; but we tend to order the other kind, which contain shrimp and kuwai (lily bulb), as that combination is so unusual. They are served with a pot of heavy-duty homemade chili sauce that adds a healthy dose of heat to the dip of bright, sweet-spicy sriracha sauce.
There are lots of other nice little home-made condiments — most of them spicy — and everything is beautifully laid out and garnished. The miso ramen (now regrettably discontinued) used to come adorned with mizuna herb and scarlet kukonomi (wolfberries).
And the tonyu (soymilk) ramen — still very much on the menu — comes with a scattering of benibana safflower (looking much like saffron but with none of the flavour), to go with those rich tender slices of chashu, black kikurage mushroom and fine-chopped negi scallions. The hanjuku (soft-boiled) egg is an optional extra — but highly recommended.
And then there is the tsukemen. These are chunky, heavy gauge noodles with more than a sifting of wholewheat flour in the dough. You can order in three sizes and unless you are ravenous, medium or small (as shown below) will be ample. The warm dipping sauce is thick, rich and meaty.
Once (and only once) I tried the spicy version, which comes liberally covered with fine chopped green jalapenos. I know a lot of people get off on ultra-spicy food, but for me there's no gain in that sort of pain. I'd much rather get to know some of the other dishes at Ichikanjin. Such as the summer special hiyashi chuka...
The mound of chilled noodles is topped with cuts of marinated pork, blanched onion, chopped negi scallions and sesame seeds, drizzled with a meaty-soy-vinegar sauce. The condiments on the side are piquant balsamico; a thick sauce of red chili and sesame; Chinese black vinegar; and clear rice vinegar.
As mentioned in my column, Ichikanjin lies conveniently in between Kamakura JR Station and Yuigahama beach, though not on the main drag. It's right on Yuigahama-dori, close by the Roku Jizo Crossing. Definitely worth a detour.
Here's a map...