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!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Clam & Bonito RAIK in Honancho


A new ramen shop in my part of town? It's produced by RAIK, one of my favorite spots? Something about clams and fish? I'm there.

Clam and Bonito RAIK makes their ramen daily with whatever fresh fish and shells they manage to grab at the market. This means the flavors will be drastically different each time you go but tied in neatly with a theme. The posted sign shows that it was crab, oyster, sea bream, and littleneck clams.

All umami-rich fruits of the sea.

They also stock an all-clam version for when the fresh fish runs out.

1000 yen for the special, which seems normal these days.

Another norm is the explanation cards found at the counter. Homemade shellfish paste for the win.

A beautiful, high-end bowl.

Seafood, especially shells, has been a trend for the last few years, and it is nice to see that new shops can still knock it out with their creations.

This is a pescetarian-friendly bowl if you ask for it without the pork and chicken topping.