Monday, January 21, 2019

中華蕎麦 にし乃 (Nishino in Hongo)

中華蕎麦 にし乃

The new shops of 2018 have been downright impressive. Hit after hit. Nishino is a hit.

The master at Nishino trained at one of my favorite hidden gems, Koike out on the west side of Tokyo. I say hidden gem, but both of these shops are mentioned in all the ramen ranking lists, so people definitely know.

Chukasoba is on the menu, but the one to order is the 山椒そば. Sanshosoba takes their normal bowl and tops it with an aromatic sansho oil. What is sansho?

The fruit of the Japanese prickly ash, commonly mistaken as Chinese numbing pepper. It is slightly numbing with a lovely floral aroma and bitterness. 

The base flavors are a blend of white soy sauce with a light dashi broth. What can I say besides this is an amazing bowl.

Just make sure you like sansho.

Open since February 2018.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

金竜 (Kinryu in Matsudo)


Kinryu is a schlep from central Tokyo, but sometimes a schlep is needed.

It was pouring rain when I arrived at Goko Station on the locals-only Shinkeisei Line. And I made sure to go on a non-Thursday. I had been in the area many times on Thursdays in the past for some reason. Kinryu's day off.

Ramen and gyoza. You can also get a side of menma to snack on with your beer.

This is some serious miso ramen.

Kinryu is ranked very, very highly amongst the ramen elite. It comes in at number one for many of them, and I can understand why. With so many shops copying the Sapporo style, a bowl like this is a breath of fresh air.

Kinryu's base uses miso from Sendai. It has a deep, funky flavor that matches with their original seven spice blend. This isn't spicy ramen but it has a little kick. The six-hour soup is topped with crunchy bean sprouts and a lot of mitsuba, a kind of Japanese leafy green.

The gyoza was pretty damn tasty as well.

Monday, January 14, 2019

金色不如帰 (Hototogisu in Shinjuku)


Hototogisu is back and better than ever!

Well, the new photo policy put a damper on a proper video, but it is important to respect the shops you visit.

Hototogisu spent over 11 years in Hatagaya and was one of the ramen scene's gems. Critics loved it. I loved it. Michelin loved it. Michelin loved it so much, in fact, that they anointed this small shop with a coveted star in 2018. Hototogisu is the third shop to be given a Michelin star, behind Tsuta and Nakiryu

What makes ramen of this caliber? Insane detail in the soup, exquisite homemade noodles, and unique toppings.

And for those who think all it takes is some truffle oil to grab Michelin's attention, there is some white truffle oil added as an accent to the shio ramen along with porcini mushroom and Inca berries. The Inca berries are a new twist for the new location.

The soup is a three-part deal. There's is the standard bone broth, in this case, made with mostly chicken. There's the wadashi, Japanese dashi broth made with dried fish and konbu kelp. And there's the clam broth made with clams from Mie Prefecture.

The clams are what put this one over the top. It is such a nice balance of umami and aromas. A real treat.

Lines are now, as expected, quite insane. My advice is to arrive an hour before they open and start waiting.

They have also opened branches in Toronto and Singapore. Someone let me know how they are!