Friday, November 29, 2013

銀座 篝 Kagari: wandering ginza butterfly

Ginza, ostensibly Tokyo's most expensive real estate, has been creeping up the ramen rankings. This is where you might find exquisite ramen alongside Michelin-starred French and decades-old kaiseki restaurants.

I was here for Tokyo Filmex, which was screening Noboru Nakamura's "The Shape of Night," a brilliant film about a young factory worker-turned-prostitute named Yoshie and the sad-sack men she serves. It's a film whose rich color palette and sensual imagery constantly reflects the passionate and progressively exhausted life of its protagonist. It also made me crave ramen.

Enter Kagari, a very tiny shop located in the sort of back alley that Yoshie might have once practiced her trade, sandwiched humbly between boutique designer vendors and luxury restaurants. It's an elegant shop that seats no more than eight at a time, a place where you might accidentally overlook the "SOBA" sign and stumble in looking for high-end sushi, only to become confused at the vats piping hot steam in the back. Seeing a long line of salarymen for a place like this, in an area like this, is a unique experience.

The chefs of Kagari serve two types of ramen - a shoyu heavy with niboshi dried sardines...

Niboshi shoyu SOBA with bamboo shoots (900yen)

...and a refined tori-paitan. Seeing as this is Thanksgiving where I come from, I opted for the chicken ramen in lieu of turkey.

Tori paitan SOBA with egg (950yen)

Both these bowls are fantastic. In fact, these are perfect examples of bowls that combine mastery of traditional techniques and experimental ingredients without going overboard. The tori-paitan comes with some fresh veggies, chicken chashu, and a dollop of ikura salmon roe.

The shoyu is heavy with fish flavor, and is topped by both pork chashu and roast beef, along with several different tones of green condiments.

Furthermore, each bowl comes with a side condiment - for the paitan, some fried garlic and grated ginger, and for the shoyu, some homemade oil made of fried onions. Both are delicious, giving their respective bowls an extra kick.

In place of a Thanksgiving bowl, this will do. At least until someone comes up with a turkey ramen with gravy broth and extra turkey chashu...

Tokyo, Chuo-ku, Ginza 4-4-1 Ginza A Bldg 1F
Closest stn: Ginza

Open from 11am-330pm and 530-1030pm (closed Sundays)



  1. Hi, i was wondering if you remember if the seat here in Kagari in Ginza pull outs eat or stool that are set in place? I am in a wheelchaira nd was wondering if I am able to eat here? Appreciate it if you can let me know. Thx!

    1. They can move the stools, but the shop is pretty cramped so you might have to wait until a seat opens up that has more room close to the door.