Glimpse of Japan’s tsukemen: Marumen, VA Review

I went to Marumen with little expectation, especially because the location was in the middle of nowhere! I guess that’s what you’d expect from restaurants in Virginia.

 

What is Tsukemen?

Tsukemen (つけ麺?) is a Japanese noodle dish consisting of ramen which is eaten after dipping in a separate bowl of soup.

Essentially, the noodles and the soup are served separately. Tsukemen noodles tend to be on the thicker side and are usually served cold. The broth is, of course, hot. Why in the world would anyone want to eat ramen like this? First, keeping the noodles separate from the broth preserves the dense, thick, and chewy texture of the noodles. When you leave noodles in soup for too long, they get soggy! Second, the soup tends to be more concentrated in tsukemen, allowing you to cater the amount of broth you use to your own personal liking. If you prefer a richer flavor, you can soak your noodles in the broth – which, I’m guilty of doing.  Third, the cold noodles are refreshing to eat during warm seasons. Although, I think ramen can be eaten during any season!

 

Review on “Astro Boy” with shoyu dipping sauce.

 

The Positive

“Every bowl of ramen is made with paitan broth that has been carefully prepared for 14 hours.”

  • Authentic Japanese flavor
    When I visit ramen places in the states,  I’m always haunted by how “americanized” the bowls of ramen are. Eating at Marumen brought me back to a distinct memory of eating tsukemen in Tottori Prefecture. Its clean and simple flavor genuinely made me happy to inhale the noodles while comforted by the memories of eating in Japan. :’)
  • Density and chewiness of the noodles
    The noodle’s thickness was about an 8.5/10. I prefer thinner noodles, but the al dente style made each bite as satisfying as you could imagine. The larger width of the noodles made it a little harder for me to slurp – I haven’t mastered the art of slurping, yet.
  • Egg was timed almost perfectly
    ALMOST perfectly. I’m so picky when it comes to the egg. The perfect egg (for me) is on the runnier side, yet firm enough to hold the yolk in place – until you bite into it. It also has to be bold in flavor, yet harmonize with the essence of the bowl. Marumen’s egg almost satisfied this criterion, although you could tell it was a little cold.
  • Savory and sweet chashu
    After visiting here three times, each person’s reaction to the first bite of chashu is “wow, that’s good!” It really is good. Deep, sweet and savory flavors are infused into the meat. My only critique is that it stands out a little too much on its own.

 

The Negative

  • Mediocre shoyu broth
    Paitan, which means “white soup”, tends to be thick and cloudy. The tsukemen broth at Marumen was definitely thick and densely rich in flavor the first time I went. The third time I went, it felt like the flavor was lacking.
  • Consistency was different every time
    Why is it that the broth was different for each of the three times I went? I seek for consistency. Marumen failed in this category.
  • Taste and absorption of the noodles
    Although the chewiness was almost perfect, the noodles tasted a little bare. When I dipped the noodles into the broth, I tasted the noodles, not the tsukemen as a whole. You can counter this by drinking the soup with the noodles.

 

The LeftoverTsukemen Leftovers

 

Globo’s Ultimate Rating: 3.2
Location: 3250 Old Pickett Rd, Fairfax, VA 22031
Yelp Status: 3.8 Stars, 680 Reviews


Yummy, but salty! // Daikaya Ramen Shop, DC review

Daikaya is one of the better places I’ve tried in the DC area. My 3.6 rating and the following review are based entirely on the bowl of Shoyu Ramen. I’d highly recommend this place if you are craving and searching for strongly flavored ramen!

The Atmosphere + Ramen

The Positive

  • Noodles were textured and flavored well
    On a thickness scale of 1-10, the noodles ranked near a 7. The noodles slurped pretty smoothly and the al dente style satisfied every chew. You could really embrace the flavor of the ramen while eating the noodles.
  • Initial broth tasting was incredibly satisfying
    My ritual for eating every bowl of ramen is to (1) take a photo and (2) try the broth. The Shoyu is incredibly rich in flavor, so slurping the broth from the wide spoon overjoyed my taste buds – in the beginning, at least.
  • Bean sprouts were crunchy and fresh
    Although there were more than I would have liked, each bean sprout absorbed the flavors of the broth. So, crunching them along with your noodles created a nice diversity in texture.

The Negative

  • Broth was a little too salty
    You know the broth isn’t optimal when you can’t down the entire bowl after you’re finished eating your noodles. The saltiness forced me to drink water continuously throughout and after the meal, too.
  • Excessive bamboo shoots flavor
    Adding bamboo shoots is optional for the Shoyu. It’s one of my favorite add-ons to ramen, so I always opt-in! But at Daikaya, I probably won’t order them again. The flavors were insanely strong and created unbalance in the entire ramen! I ate one or two pieces, then left the rest in the bowl.
  • The meat overpowered  the soup
    I couldn’t figure out why the ramen tasted a little off and un-Shoyu-like. It was the meat. If you’re a huge meat lover, you might appreciate its strong flavors, but it was too overpowering for me. The meat was flavored too sweetly! It threw off the authenticity of the broth.
  • Too many toppings
    A perfect bowl of ramen needs to be well-balanced with the right amount of each ingredient. The steep ratio of toppings vs. noodles is always a disappointment when you’re searching for the single strands of hidden noodles at the end.

The Leftover

I also judge ramen based on how clean the bowl is after I’m finished eating. For the best bowls of ramen, I can literally lick the bowl clean. This broth was a little too salty! Don’t let that stop you from trying it though. 😉

Location: 705 6th St NW, Washington, DC 20001
Yelp Review: 4 Stars. 1794 Reviews
Shoyu Ramen Price: $12
Globo’s Ultimate Rating: 3.6/5