Monday, September 29, 2014

春木屋 Harukiya: ramen history

Ogikubo is one of the most famous ramen areas in all of Japan. And Harukiya is one of the oldest and probably the most famous shop in all of Ogikubo. Which makes Harukiya a contender for most famous ramen shop in the world. In existence since 1949, the shop was pumped up by the legendary film director Yamamoto Kajiro, who also mentored and elevated none other than master director Akira Kurosawa (Yamamoto was also a fine director of comedies, though they've been mostly forgotten due to their lost status). Is Harukiya the Kurosawa of ramen? We shall see.

Harukiya was one of the early adopters of the Tokyo chuka-soba, a blend of fish and chicken stock mixed with fresh vegetables. The shop adds a secret recipe of shoyu sauces for additional impact. This was the most common bowl post-war, and is said to be a big inspiration for Momofuku Ando's Nisshin brand Chicken Ramen and Cup Noodles developed to cheaply satisfy Japanese appetites.

Chuka-soba (800yen)

Harukiya's chuka-soba has fantastic broth. Piping hot, with what appears to be an extra layer of oil on the top, this is a bowl with complex flavors that kept getting better with every sip and slurp.

The noodles are a perfect match. Curly and chewy, hand-made every day. These are some of the best strands in all of Tokyo. I just wish there was another handful more.

At 800 yen, it's a little pricey for such a simple (and meager) bowl. I can't make this a regular spot, but anyone who is serious about ramen should visit it at least once or twice.

Generations of Harukiya fans no doubt bring their kids and grandkids here. Harukiya's bowl is said to keep evolving, which is no doubt precious marketing hype, but I could see this bowl taking on additional complexity with future slurps. Ramen Love will need to plumb the depths of Ogikubo, land of old-school ramen, in more detail. 

Tokyo, Suginami-ku, Kamiogi 1-4-6
Closest stn: Ogikubo

Open from 11am-9pm


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