Tuesday, March 31, 2009

ぼたん (Botan in Takadanobaba)

ぼたん

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(from Takadanobaba station Waseda Exit, go left and walk up the road for about 4 minutes, past about a dozen other ramen shops)

You walk into Botan and are hit with the smell. I've heard about some people hating Hakata style ramen because of the stinky smell, but I had never really experienced this. That is... until Botan.

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"Like a good swiss cheese," is how a friend described it. Yes, thats perfect. It was like the swiss cheese I bought from a cheese vendor on the border of France and Switzerland in the city of Chamonix back in 2002. This cheese had been aged in a cave and was covered with a layer of wax and dirt. Cut into it and there you go. Stinky. The good kind. That's what you smell when you walk in the door.

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There you have it, the wonderful creation that is Hakata ramen. I can't say I've had bad Hakata ramen yet. I think Ichiran tastes a little more refined, but the whole eating in silence in a one person cubicle thing isn't worth it. Maybe Ippudo could take top marks, but I'd say that is more Hakata Nouveau style. A drizzle of garlic spice oil isn't an option at most places.

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One bonus of this shop is that you get a coupon for a free serving of noodles the next time you come in. Bonus!