Monday, March 23, 2020

ぶたのほし (Butanohoshi in Amagasaki, Hyogo)


Instant favorite at Butanohoshi. I don't say that lightly, this is an epic bowl of tonkotsu ramen. For this ramen fan, easily one I would crush weekly if I lived in the Kansai area of western Japan.

Butanohoshi (lit. Pork Star) comes by way of the Muteppo group. Known for boiling the hell out of their bones with such vigor that the resulting soup is both thicker and surprisingly less stinky than other tonkotsu ramen shops. Many great tonkotsu ramen shops simply stink. The smell can permeate a few city blocks in some cases.

The owner, Takada-san, started making ramen at Muteppo when he was 40 years old. After less than a decade, he opened Butanohoshi in 2018.

This shop ticks all the boxes. Super cool atmosphere in a light and airy converted warehouse. Takada-san is there constantly dishing out bowls and crushing fresh bones with his mallet. This helps bring that rich collagen out, one key to thick soups like tonkotsu ramen.

He has three pots on high boil at all times. The one with a lighter looking liquid gets tempered with the one with the heavier looking liquid. All three have fresh bones tossed in at what appears to be a random pace. Not true. This is something he developed in his years at Muteppo. While most shops prep ahead of time, checking the viscosity along the way, Butanohoshi looks like some kind of improv cooking.

And like a well-tuned improv jazz pianist, the results are impeccable. Get the special bowl, it comes with extra thinly sliced pork and an egg. The pork slices actually feel light when compared with the soup.

Soup full of life. Bits of meat mingle with the broth.

Noodles come from the Muteppo group, based out of Nara.

You will wait, but you won't mind.

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