Marukin Ramen Updated Menu

I’ve written about Marukin Ramen before when they first soft opened their SE Ankeny location and talked you through the difference between their ramen offerings. Since then, they have opened their second location at Pine Street Market, they’ve increased the amount of noodles to upside the hearty fullness of their bowls, as the kitchen has gotten more efficient and accurate they now offer more to choose from! Here’s a look at what’s new at Marukin Ramen.
Marukin Ramen Updated Menu Marukin vegan mapo tofu over rice, and the only once a week, 30 bowls limited edition Ebi Ramen, a Rich Tiger Shrimp and chicken based broth with sea salt topped with tiger shrimp, bok choy, mushroom age-tofu mix, kikurage, and negi Marukin Ramen Special Ramen, available only once a week at each location and limited to about 30 bowls because of the amount of work required to create it! Ebi Ramen, a Rich Tiger Shrimp and chicken based broth with sea salt topped with tiger shrimp, bok choy, mushroom age-tofu mix, kikurage, and negi  Marukin Ramen Updated Menu addition of vegan mapo tofu over rice

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Making CoCo Ichibanya’s Curry

When I was in Japan for work back in March of this year, CoCo Ichibanya was highly recommended and raved about by my youngest sister J. So on my last night, I wandered lost along the neighborhood of Shibuya Crossing, trying to find CoCo Ichibanya’s Curry House, as mentioned in a previous post. When I finally found it (apparently having passed it at least twice- there are so many bright signs that I missed it), I finally got to enjoy a comforting Japanese curry  dinner of level 4 heat curry with chicken katsu and mushroom. While paying for my meal, I also bought two curry mix packages to take back to to the US, one pork and one vegetable, to take home.

My sister informed me there is now a branch of CoCo Ichibanya’s Curry House in LA (the first on the US Mainland), so it looks like when my family gets together this Christmas holiday, we will be able to visit. There’s no reason for me to horde my CoCo curry mix anymore. So, thanks to the internet, I decided to give it a try, including even trying to katsu up some tofu.

Ingredients (enough for 2 people):

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Diced onions
  • Mixed diced vegetables of your choice
  • Coco Ichiban’s Curry Mix (I happened to use Vegetable)
  • Tofu (you can also use meat of course such as pork or chicken cutlet)
  • Flour
  • 1-2 egg (start with one and add another if you run low)
  • Seasoned breadcrumbs and/or panko
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • Steamed Rice (I used my standby jasmine rice)


  1. Heat a sauce pan, pour in the olive oil, and saute the onions until caramelized. Add in the mixed vegetables and lightly saute for a few minutes.
  2. Drop the heat to medium-low. Squeeze in the curry mix. Let thicken, stirring occasionally while preparing your katsu tofu/meat. The one from Coco is liquid and already included some veggies, but I’m glad I added more as mine were fresher and crunchier versus the mush in the bag… though maybe I went a little overboard in quantity of veggies.

    But, often times the Japanese curry mix you find is actually hard and in blocks, similar to chocolate. So if you have that kind break it into pieces so it will melt. As it melts, for this curry block kind because the flavor is more condensed, start adding water, starting with one
    cup, to taste. You will want to do this in steps as the flavors opens up and develop. When it is all melted, depending on how it tastes to you, you can add more water, or some brown sugar to sweeten it, or add more heat with cayenne, or even sprinkle in some cheese for richness. Let the curry simmer on low, and remember that the Japanese curry should become thick almost like gravy, not like soup.
  3. Meanwhile, with the tofu, since I was not using meat there was no need to pound it into tenderness. If your tofu is not fresh and comes in a liquid, you will want to put it on paper towels and put something heavy (I use pans) to press it to squeeze the moisture out. Otherwise, if you are using meat, pound it out so it is about 1/2 inch in thickness.
  4. In a shallow bowl, combine breadcrumbs with salt, pepper and other desired seasonings, and or panko. I only had a little bit of panko left, and so I mixed the panko and some seasoned breadcrumbs together to get enough for two people’s worth. Dredge the tofu or meat in flour, then the whisked egg, then in the mix of seasoned breadcrumbs/panko and until evenly coated. I like doing this dredging using chopsticks, but need the fork to help turn over the tofu in the egg bowl.
  5. Cook your tofu or meat a skillet with 1/4 cup vegetable oil, shallow pan frying them about 5 minutes each side if you are using meat but shorter for tofu since you are just browning it no fully cooking it. To start you probably want to start with a smaller piece just to check the heat of the oil first. Drain your fried goodies on paper towels.
  6. The prettiest presentation for serving the curry is by first plating the white rice on half a plate, putting the curry on the other half, and place your crunchy tofu/meat on top of the curry so it will stay crispy. Or, I went the practical way which is using a bowl and putting in the rice, curry, and then topping with the tofu.

This was ok – definitely not as good as actually going to CoCo house and having the real deal. I wish I had mushrooms in the pantry for this, but had used them up earlier making a mushroom creme sauce on pasta. And, somehow I haven’t been able to recreate the kind of taste of katsu that I experienced in Japan- the texture was right with this panko breadcrumb mix, but not the taste. It must be something with the panko they are using- even katsu in the US  I get doesn’t taste the same way, yet at least 3 places in Tokyo were blowing me away with their versions. Now that I’m out of panko, I am going to specifically get my next batch from an Asian grocery store.

Well, I have something to look forward to next month in LA!


Japanese Curry at Kale

Last week, I visited with a Foodie meetup group and had the Doria at Kalé. When you enter, you order at the counter one of their three kinds of entrees- the beef curry, the original (meatless), or the Doria. That’s it. They do curry, and that’s the speciality. The portions are traditional and adequate- so if you are looking for a huge American/Italian style heaping plate, reset your expectations.

The curry itself is almost like a thick gravy that also has chunk in it like onions, carrots, tomatoes, etc, which is served with Japanese rice- mix it all together! And, you can add some extras like egg, spinach, or what I recommend, more of their pickles as it adds a bit of extra bite to the savoryness of the curry.

Japanese curry, Kale

The Doria is your choice of either beef or original traditional curry which is then topped with parika and your choice of a sprinkle of shredded cheese:  mozzarella or cheddar or half/half like I did. This is then baked in the oven for 10 minutes, and they can only make three at a time (so you may have to wait if you are #4), and they will bring it to your table.

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The other two options they will put together right there and call your name to get it on the tray and you bring it to the table yourself. It’s a very simple place- the owner is there excited to explain Japanese curry at the register which definitely lends it charm. This space used to be the Japanese restaurant Bush Gardens- and the sushi bar is now the curry dish prep assemble and retrieve your curry workstation.

Then, after you order and retrieve your dish (unless you have to wait 10 minutes for your Doria), there are plenty of two-top and four-top tables along the side, as well as three tatami booths to sit in to eat your dish in a clean and very minimal decor- except for a few Japanese items along the wall, you might expect to see any kind of other food being served here for lunch. As you walk back towards the door, there are buckets for you to place your trash and dishes as he nods and appreciate you with his thanks as you walk out the door.

Currently Kalé is still applying for their liquor license, because I really wished I could have had just a little thing of sake to go with it all. Without any dessert offering, we went on to Pudding on the Rice in the South Park blocks for our bites of dessert (heh, more rice- but also patronizing two small local businesses with our group). Kalé has only been open a month, but while we were there we saw plenty of Japanese groups of college students come in and out for their hearty dinner: it really is a order, eat, and leave kind of place. Let’s see what Kalé grows up to be.