When it comes to dining at a Japanese restaurant, sushi and maki often interest me. On April of 2016, out of curiosity I tried the ramen of Sigekiya Ramen restaurant located inside Commercenter, Alabang, Muntinlupa City. The ramen was very good with its rich soup, pork servings and most notably freshly made, in-store noodles.
A few months later that same year, I returned to the restaurant and daringly tried something really new to me. Something I never tried before. That was Tsukemen. It was served to me with cold freshly made noodles (with a patch of seaweed and vegetable bits) and a bowl of hot broth that was pretty thick.
So there I was struggling a bit to drip the noodles into the soup and then consume it while using chopsticks (and sometimes the soup spoon provided). The struggle was worth it because the dish really tasted very delicious! The soup was so tasty, I never bothered to add some condiments. The noodles were so fresh and clearly thicker than most noodles, they were very satisfying to eat (pretty chewy) once they got wet with the hot soup. Since then, Tsukemen became my favorite dish to order at Sigekiya Ramen and for some time I’ve been searching for the dish in other Japanese restaurants in Alabang and BF Homes. So far I only saw two other restaurants serving Tsukemen.
What is Tsukemen?
Historically Tsukemen was invented by a Taishoken restaurant owner in Japan identified as Kazuo Yamagishi. At the age of seventeen, he came up with the concept of Tsukemen as a result of seeing a colleague consuming down the noodles after dipping them in a cup that contained soup. At his restaurant, in the year 1961, Yamagishi added Tsukemen to the menus identified as “special morisoba”. The experiment became a commercial success and the rest was history. Yamagishi died in 2015 and so far his contribution to Japanese and global cuisine won’t be fading away anytime soon. Slowly but surely, Tsukemen is making its way to more Japanese restaurants outside of Asia.
How to eat Tsukemen? Use the chopsticks to grab a manageable amount of noodles, slowly dip it into the soup, move them into your mouth then slurp it carefully. If this is too hard, you can use the soup spoon to help you support the noodles.
What you should NOT do when having Tsukemen is mixing the noodles into the soup to make it more like ramen. That’s wrong and improper. There is a good reason why the noodles and soup were served to you separately. Tsukemen is all about dipping the fresh cold noodles into the soup and then consuming it with a unique approach. Do not treat Tsukemen like ramen or like some other noodle soup dish.
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