Monday, August 10, 2015

MENSHO TOKYO: lamb on the run

It's been remarkably, deadly hot (rather than the usual burning hot) in Tokyo, but we still can't resist eating ramen. Hot days require us to hit up a shop quick and run before the sweat starts to sink into our shirts. Today marks our visit to the final shop of Tomoharu Shono's quintet of ramen labs.

We had been to Shono-san's Mensho on a couple other occasions for special events, but his shop is easy to find, right by Korakuen station, and perfect for those of us who lose all our energy after being exposed more than 10 seconds to the sun. The outside of the shop is made of polished, paneled wood slats, and smells like Japanese modern art, with a chandelier made from dried bonito, beautiful wooden tables, and ambient lighting inside.

Mensho is notable for yet another wild variant on a tried-and-true formula: the lamb tonkotsu, a mix of pork and lamb bone broth.

Ramen (750yen)

This is unquestionably one of the finest tonkotsu in Tokyo and, maybe, ever. Lamb has a funky smell and gamey taste, but Shono-san incorporates it into the broth for a pure, rich, milky soup with a hint of graininess. He even adds a slice of sudachi citrus to add some freshness to the pond of liquid gold. Gold, Jerry. Gold!

The lamb and niboshi bowl is also a winner, with strong, smoky bonito dashi and a hint of yuzu citrus mixing with the lamb and pork for a more savory bowl.

Lamb Niboshi Chukasoba (790yen)

The noodles, as always, are made in house through a noodle-making lab. They are fresh and excellent.

Not settling only for the ramen, we also tried the special lamb mazemen. Divine!

Maze hitsuji (900yen)

I couldn't imagine what lamb ramen would taste like, but this was simply wonderful. Not only did these bowls taste great, but care was put into the balance of their visual presentation, and service was quick and friendly. Eating at a Shono shop stimulates all the senses. Shono-san's now heading to San Francisco to spread his genius, and despite having five of his shops in Tokyo, I'm jealous of Bay Area Ramen Lovers who get to try his latest invention.

Tokyo, Bunkyo-ku, 1-15-9
Closest stn: Korakuen

Open from 11am-11pm (closed Tuesdays)


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