Hakata Umauma (Horse Horse Hakata)
Nelson @ Shibuya, Tokyo: Department stores often have a basement food court full of wonderful choices, but this newly opened mall called Hikarie had two floors on top full of small restaurants. We wandered around for a while, but finally settled on this Ramen restaurant called Hakata Umauma, which roughly translates to Horse Horse Hakata. Hakata is a region in Western Japan and of course they have their own version of Ramen.
We could read the character for horse all over the menu and thought that this place specialized in horse meat. Only now that I have found the name of the restaurant do I realize that it was just the name of the restaurant. What threw us off even further was the fact that they did have horse sashimi on the menu, but we weren't feeling brave enough to try it.
We had the lunch special (¥950/$10.50) and it included three items. The first is called mentaiko rice, which has some marinated cod roe and nori on top of plain white rice. It was quite salty overall even with so much plain white rice.
Next is tan tan men, which is what Japanese people call the Chinese Dan Dan noodle dish. It's a fairly popular dish in Japan, but is categorized differently from traditional Japanese Ramen. It's not strictly Japanese and we should have figured it out based on the name, but oh well. It was tasty with a nice satay taste and with a nice bit of spice.
Last is 5 gyoza (fried dumplings) that were pretty tiny. Since the name of this on the menu included the Chinese character for "horse", we thought it would be stuffed with horse meat. We asked the waitress, but she looked confused and then said it was pork. It looked and tasted like pork too. Only now after looking it up at home on the internet do I find out that it is....pork. Sorry to be so anticlimactic, but I would have liked to try some horse meat at least once.
We didn't even try their specialty of Hakata Ramen. But the most unique item we missed out on was the horse sashimi, which I will have to try next time...when I'm feeling braver.
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