Eating a meal and posing the question ‘If you could die any way, how would you do it?’ may not sound like the best lunch conversation but it was the question I posed Meg, todays lunch companion at Mugi to Olive located off the main road in ritzy Ginza.
‘I dunno… old?’ She answers with hesitation. ‘How about you?’
‘I would lower my head into this bowl of ramen and drown myself.’ I respond with little to no hesitation.
I’m not saying Mugi to Olive is the best ramen I’ve had. It’s just that like my donut obsession… well… it’s an obsession. Having said that however, Mugi to Olive is an innovative concept run by a french chef that seems to be unlike any ramen shop I’ve been too but at the same time being oddly familiar. The shopfront is no more than a dozen feet across but if you have trouble finding it it’s probably because a line of people are blocking it.
So, just look for that line.
Listed in the Michelin guide for 2015, this is it’s original location that opened in early 2014 and a second location has recently opened up in Manseibashi. Service is efficient with no chit chat and the interior is aluminium and industrial white wash in the kitchen with spattering of timber on the dining counter.
‘You get the Clam and I’ll get the Chicken…’ I propose as we look at the traditional ramen ticket machine with the idea to swap halfway through.
‘…then we’ll swap halfway through’ she says.
Man… she read my mind.
The ramen is the best I’ve had in Tokyo to date but not the best I’ve ever had. That honour belongs to the holy trinity of ramen shops in my Japanese hometown of Nagasaki. I’ll get into that another day.
All dishes come with the best and yolkiest boiled egg I’ve ever eaten as well as three extra pieces of freshly cooked Chasu. The Clam Ramen (¥1130) is a little salty but possess a unique flavour that packs a little bit of a punch but is still refined enough to be fresh. The clams sent it over the top as a tasty as fuck dish.
The Chicken Ramen (¥1030) is just as good, actually probably better. The broth is dark and rich with taste and holds own against the competition around Ginza enough for me to want to go back. I actually was a little disappointed they crammed so much stuff in the broth that it decreased available mass for the broth.
If either of us were more game and not comfortably sitting middle tier on the ramen scale we would have tempted fate and ordered The Three Soup Ramen which combines the Clam, the Chicken and strangely enough, dried sardines.
That’s it. No witty ending this time. Just if you want delicious ramen drown yourself in a bowl at Mugi to Olive.
Mugi to Olive is located at:
+81 3 3571 2123
Just letting ya’ll know I’m outta Melbourne again and moving to Tokyo for 6 months from April 1st. If you around holla at me and we’ll hang.
Donuts. When asked about my relationship status my answer is ‘I’m in a very complicated relationships with donuts’. Why? Because I’m acutely aware of how frustratingly bad they can be for you. ‘Cold fats. It’s because they are cold fats’ Vlada, my partner for my trip to Shortstop Coffee & Donuts explains. The blank expression on my face probably informed her that I had no idea what she meant. This was probably confirmed when it took me about 5 seconds to finish the Banana and Hazlenut donut in front of us.
There is a huge hype behind Shortstop Coffee & Donuts for a place that has only been open for all of 3 months. I’ve seen it tagged multiple times on the five people I regularly stalk but don’t follow on Instagram as well as almost all of my friends. It was also recently bought to my attention that even before Shortstop had even opened its doors it had amounted some 16,000 followers on its instagram. Such a place warrants a visit so I may crack open its skull and consume its power, I mean eat its donuts. Vlada and I ventured there for its last day of operation for 2014.
$5. The price jumped out as probably the first thing I noticed, which is a shame because that little price text was below eight mighty fine looking donuts that were laid out in the open on the counter so you can choose. ‘These better be the best damn donuts I’ve ever tasted’ my inner monologue demands before we order 3, a flat white and a cappuccino. The aforementioned Banana and Hazlenut, a Cinnamon, Cardamom and Sugar and Peanut Butter and Rhubarb Jam, all of which are promptly delivered to our wall mounted counter. The coffees though looked the same.
‘Hey, which ones which?’ We ask.
‘Oh! We serve all our white coffees the same. It’s just so we can ensure the consistency is the same across what we do.’
What? That… actually makes sense.
Also, they’re pretty good donuts.
In case you can’t tell, I’m underselling it here trying to play it cool.
‘Did you get some good photos?’ The man behind the counter asks as we stand up to leave. He introduces himself as Anthony, shakes my hand and engages me in some banter about specialty donuts in Japan. I find out later while researching this article he’s the owner.
I forgot about taking photos to be honest, part of the reason I chose to come. Donuts have caused me to once again become distracted.
‘I think we need to talk about our relationship.’ I whisper to the last bite of my donut.
Shortstop Coffee & Donuts is located at:
12 Sutherland Street, Melbourne (map)
+61 3 9642 0807
© 2015 Carey Ciuro