Friday, October 2, 2009

Hirugao Ramen, Tokyo (ひるがお)

Under Tokyo Station, all sorts of delights await. I walked it once before with little excitement, but today I enjoyed some mild exploration down the length of #1 Street (一番街, it's on the Yaesu side). Down at the extreme south end, they have a little 'ramen museum' setup that opened this year. Perhaps in a bid to keep people from taking the train to Yokohama's actual ramen museum and the tasting area there (haven't been), there are branches of 5 or 6 different shops. I tried to go one time before but found lines outside all of them; today at 1:30 I was luckier.

Usually I get miso ramen, probably because regular ramen doesn't have enough calories. In this case I was mildly puzzled to find nothing like it on the menu at the ticket vending machine. Was I right to be surprised? No. In retrospect, it's telling that the shop's sign says "Salt Ramen Specialist" and each of the staff wears a shirt with an 8-inch high "SALT" character on the front and back. Considering that, you shouldn't expect to find shoyu ramen, much less miso. It's pure salt around the place.

So I fell back on old habits and ordered the 'everything' ramen (boiled egg, pork, wonton in addition to normal toppings). Here's a quick rundown:
- Soup: Very good. Light chicken with hints of fish, especially when drunk in contrast with the other elements. Memorable (or maybe I just never get salt ramen).
- Noodles: OK. Thin, obviously machine cut, possibly some whole wheat in the mix. A bit soft, not enough flavor; thought they were good at first but they seemed to lose it
- Pork: somewhat generic, heavy, grayish chashu. Disappointing since on the sign outside it shows a lovely pink slice that's obviously been grilled slightly after it was cut, and that's a good way to go.
- Wontons: An oddity for me in ramen, but very good here. Nice pasta, light chicken/shrimp filling.
- Egg: Just slightly overdone, with a slight rim of chalky yellow around the deep orange, creamy yolk. Good.
- Other: It's nice that there was a liberal spray of finely-slice negi strands, as well as lots of chopped onion in the soup.

Overall, I'd have to say the soup is the high point but doesn't quite carry the day here. Just their style, I guess. Still, better than a lot of heavier ramenz I've had in the past.

Bru-bru-bru-oiiiiii-sta...I dunno.

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