Ramen has many facets in Japan. Of course there is the food itself, but I think the atmosphere plays a huge roll. A beautifully reconstructed old Japanese warehouse converted into a ramen shop, a steamy shop filled with salarymen, an hour long line for a little hole in the wall... these things make it magic.
Enter Hakusan ramen. My photos, I realize, don't portray what I want to. Let me explain, and offer a promise to revisit in the near future.
The shop opens at 9pm. It closes at something like 4am. This is a spot for the night crowd. But Hakusan isn't near any sort of night life. You could walk here in about 20 minutes from Tokyo Dome after seeing a ball game... I guess. You could take the train way out of your way... I guess. Or you could drive up, order some ramen, and eat in your car. Or sit on the curb. Or stand. There are only 2 chairs available for the 30 or so people there.
This is the reality of the place, everyone orders their ramen, either with or without egg as there are only 2 menu items, waits 20 minutes, then just sits on the curb to eat. The curb of a semi-busy Tokyo road. The crowd is a mix of college students (big surprise), drunk salarymen, and a host or two. It's completely rad. And only a 2 minute bicycle ride from my apartment.
So I really really really wanted to love this ramen. Yeah, I'm saying the first bowl did disappoint. It was way greasy, even the bottom of the bowl had grease on it, and the chashu pork was like eating concentrated soy sauce.
Maybe I jinxed it, as I had planned on going here with fellow ramen blogger Nate, but jumped the gun when a friend was visiting from out of town. I also had high hopes, as this place is loved over at Yo! Japan.
So I'll play a little game of "fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me" and head back here soon.
Shop info here