Thursday, March 3, 2011

Otokoyama ramen, Hongo (縄麺 男山)

Have you noticed recently that it's all about Hongo? Probably not since this is only the third post from there, but I've already been to 6 places that you'll see in good course. I just started thinking, if I'm willing to go to Kagurazaka for lunch, what else is in range? Hongo - 6 minutes by train, leaving right outside the office.

There are some neat little shopping streets, and of course all the book stores and antiques. Today, the most striking thing was this shop selling...wood carvings? Nothing fancy, just bulk bins of dried bonito ready to be shaved into ribbons for making Japanese soup stock.

Just down the street, the Man Mountain looms. (I mean, the Man Mountain is only looming because I have limited time to fool around, and the nifty bistro next door was already closing.) I love the big ceremonial rope across the entrance, and could have sworn the logo was familiar. (It seems to be just this store, however.)

I went in, I ordered ramen, and they said "You want garlic with that?" Uh oh. That tends to mean "Jiro-style".

And so it is. If anything, I'd say this is a lighter, friendlier Jiro-style ramen. The mountain of sprouts and cabbage was just as big as usual, the soup was rich and tasty, but the pork wasn't as aggressive and the whole package wasn't as soul-fulfullingly-and-destroyingly huge as a real one. Plus there were napkins on the counter.

Oh, and the noodles were a bit friendlier still thick and firm, but softer than you might expect.

Somehow I've gotten a crash course in Jiro-style ramen in the last 2 weeks. The two places in Hongo, and then an accidental order a few days later in Kichijoji that turned out to be Jiro-kei too. I've had enough - it's heavy stuff, and I don't like bean sprouts anyway. It's just so hard to find really excellent Tokyo-style ramen in my usual travels.

Also bears mention if you end up here - the spicy version seems to be the done thing.

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