Wednesday, January 15, 2014

喜多方屋 Kitakataya: horse feathers

We were actually taken here at the end of last year by Hiroshi of the bowl-crushing No reason!! as a sort of mini ramen bounenkai, or "end of year party."

Kitakata is a region of Fukushima prefecture that is well known to all ramen lovers. They produce more ramen shops per capita than any other area of Japan, particularly in a style of ramen that is original to the region - a pork/niboshi-heavy shoyu with thick, curly noodles. 

And Kitakataya, run by Hiroshi's uncle who hails from the area, is the real deal. A bowl at a Kitakata shop can be a more leisurely affair than your average eatandgetthefuckout ramen shop, and the shop's atmosphere and menu reflect this attitude. The shelves are stocked with bottles of shochu liquor, so that you can kick back and knock back a few before and after eating.

Kitakataya is a neighborhood joint for the locals, and judging by the large number of families that came in, it's a popular one. Its size is unusual for ramen eateries in Tokyo (though it's pretty close to Saitama),  and you'd probably find a place like this in Nagoya, where space is more plentiful, parking lots are more abundant, ramen shops are catering to families, and life is less interesting.

This scene was filled with people eating ramen in a few minutes

First up was the basashi, or raw horse meat, which is another Kitakata staple. Eating horse might strike some as barbaric, but some just don't know what they're missing. Think of the leanest filet mignon you've ever had, doused with minced garlic and spicy miso. 

We got seconds.

The hits just kept coming from there. Fat, fried gyoza, which we were told to eat with only vinegar…

…an appetizer of menma…

…and a plate of stir-fried vegetables. Japanese home-cooking that is designed for the family in mind.

At this point, I was already bloated off of horse and vegetables like some mountain savage. I didn't know if I could eat my bowl.

Kitakata Ramen (620yen)

But one look at that deep dark shoyu produced a second wind. 

The simple Kitakata bowl here is a good representative of what you might find in Kitakata. Or so I'm told. I'll have to make a ramen pilgrimage there someday.

Many thanks to Hiroshi and family for a fantastic end to last year!

Tokyo, Itabashi-ku, Itabashi 3-27-3
Closest stn: Itabashi

Open from 1130am-2pm and 6-950pm (closed Mondays and every first Tuesday)


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