Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Takatora ramen, Takadanobaba (麺屋武蔵 鷹虎)

Wh...wh...what what? Is this the second day in row for tonkotsu-gyokai ramen in Takadanobaba? Why yes. Yes it is. Today I had a run and a small breakfast to prepare. I also accidentally waited until about 2:30 to eat. I just figured, as long as I'm here, I might take advantage of the proximity of the famous ramen in Baba. Takatora is one of the small group of Menya Musashi stores, and presumably this one give you mowah powah. At that time, I was worried they might be closed. Fortunately as I came out of Baba station under the tracks and crossed, I saw their big fancy sign, luring people down the dingy alley where they live. I've walked down this alley before, just looking for stuff to see. There wasn't any, really. I turned back.

Today there was an 'open' sign, and that was good enough for me (they seem to be open 11-11, so I was wrong before). This building is a junk-food mecca - in addition to Takatora, there's a branch of Hakata Fu-Ryu and also a Go! Go! Curry. And a Thai place and a Burmese place. And a soba place, but honestly, who cares? I could live in this building, if it wasn't right next to the tracks and a major station. You'll notice something that's conspiciously missing from this shot - a line outside. There were empty stools when I got there; you think this is a given, but actually it filled up again, and when I left a few people were waiting for my seat.

Even with empty seats it was pretty cramped so I didn't get any interior pictures, but before sitting on it I snapped off a shot of the screaming eagle stool cover...like, groovy.

Here it is, and all I can really say is Ca-CAO! No, I can say more than that. You know I can. I like to get a shop's recommended soup, and this is the Takatora Ramen that appears on the quadruple-sized button at the top of the machine, saving me from figuring out the system. It costs one thousand yens.

This is some good soup. Compared to Watanabe yesterday, it's less comically fishy and meaty and strong. I'm not really denigrating W's, but it was a more like a (barely) thinned-out tsukemen sauce, where this is like a nice, thick, kotteri ramen with overtonez of fishez. And then pretty much everything else is better - the noodles, from Menya Musashi's own factory judging by the boxes, were excellent in their medium-thinness and chewiness.

The porks was many and variegated - the fatty rolled piece was a things unto itself, but the chunkier piece (it's not a slice, it's like a 2 inch-thick slice) was one of those perfectly-roasted sections with melting fat. The egg was pretty close to perfect, although I've said before that eggs are a waste in this kind of ramen, and I forgot my own advice until I noticed I couldn't taste the egg at all. The menma aren't worth a special mention, which in itself is worth a special mention after struggling through the planks of them at Watanabe. Anyhoo, this isn't a Watanabe review.  Part of the reason I couldn't taste the egg is that, right about when I started getting bored with things, I realized there were pots of chili and crushed garlic right in front of me. I want to tell you that I don't smell all the fresh at the moment, but the last third of the bowl was really delicious.

Most ramen isn't worth a trip, and this isn't worth a trip of more than 20 minutes, but it's darm good.

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