After having spent more or less my entire life in Japan and slurped countless bowls of Ramen, I don't get carried away easily anymore over that dish. However, my encounter with the "Chuka Ramen" (Chinese Ramen) at "Ichiryu" has been one of these rare occasions when I got all excited.
As you can see, besides the topped Beni Shoga (thinly cut pickled ginger) , nothing seems extraordinary about this bowl, with the very usual Chasu (Chinese-style bbq pork), Menma (Japanese style Sungan), Moyashi (soy bean sprout) and Negi (leek) decorating the noodles.
The restaurant too is normal looking: the very reminiscent of Showa Era red long counter, the red round stools, the cheap metal Hashi (chopsticks) holders, the ever present condiments, the old analog TV towards the entrance. It's clean, neat, with the old man and his white worker hat cooking in his tiny kitchen while the lady takes care of all the service; really nothing outstanding in this typical old school noodles joint. Until you have a closer look at the soup...
And then, you can not but exclaim"Wow, the soup is gold!" And I'm talking about a beautiful gold, shiny and warm, which the pictures can unfortunately not translate. A gold color which I have never encountered in any of all those joints I have visited. Zipang, I found you!
OK, you heard me about the color...Now, how does it taste? Well, it tastes REALLY good, though a hint too salty maybe. It's a slightly thick Tonkotsu (pork bones), Torigara (chicken carcass) and shoyu mixed broth which you would happily down if you did not mind exploding your calories intake limit for the week. Oh, boy, what a guilty pleasure that would be!
For your information, the master learned this recipe from his brother, who in turn acquired it from a locally famous joint "Ichiriki" in the Fukui prefecture. Too bad Fukui is more famous for its numerous nuclear plants than its rather unknown noodles...
The four slices of Chashu are also worth the mention, slightly dry and fibrous at first but quickly dissolving in your mouth as you work on them. Like all the other toppings, they're very humble, rather low in salt but well done. A nice and harmonious team work between all the ingredients to give you the best possible Ramen experience.
The moyashi (sprout) could personally be a little less boiled in order to give you a hint more of crunchiness but as I told you, they're being low-profile so you can probably enjoy the pungent and dense broth to the fullest.
You will often find Beni-Shoga in a Kyushu Tonkotsu ramen, but I think it's quite rare in northern Japan recipes. It is after the golden soup, the next nice surprise appearance in this Ramen as it gives you that additional freshness and sourness that smoothes the broth in an amazingly very delicate way, not to mention the pleasant to the eyes color combination with the green chopped leeks.
Last but not the least, the squiggly noodles: medium firmness and diameter with a nice pale yellow color. They taste good and combine well with the soup when slurped on. One thing: go only for the Oomori large size (¥800) if you're hungry as the supersized bowl comes with quite a lot of these noodles.
Ichiryu is open everyday from 11:30am to 22:00pm
Setagaya-ku, Kitazawa 2-30-11
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