★ 麻辣麺荘 (Ma-ra Mensou) - Tokyo
Ma-ra Mensou is a ramen place located in the lower floor of the Lumines department store in Shinjuku. The name Ma-ra Mensou translates to "numbingly spicy noodle house" and is suppose to describe the sensation of eating Sichuan style ramen noodles. Since I was headed to Sichuan's capitol, Chengdu after my brief trip to Tokyo, I thought I'd give this place a try to see how authentic it was. I ordered their 担々麺 (tan-tan ramen).
The Toppings - a five spice flavored cooked egg and a piece of broccoli. Nothing special.
The soup - is a sesame flavored soup that doesn't have much depth at all. The sourness from vinegar actually dominates over any other flavor. The broth is very thin, just a sour, sesame flavored soup.
Overall - a poor quality ramen that is an imitation of an imitation. The Japanese tan-tan ramen is far from the real Dan-dan noodles from Sichuan, Ma-ra Mensou is merely imitating the Japanese interpretation and does a poor job at it. Japanese tan-tan ramen focuses on the depth of the flavor of the soup, while Sichuan dan-dan noodles overwhems you with a wide amount of spices. Ma-ra Mensou does neither and is void of any character.