Friday, December 4, 2015

饗 くろ喜 Motenashi Kuroki: hospitalité

Rain on my days off normally makes me sad, but today a special bowl blew away the blues. Even though it was pouring in Akihabara, a line of over a dozen people had formed in front of this special shop. Kuroki has gotten kudos from just about every major ramen publication. It's a small place, but the line moved faster than expected.

Miso for me...

Miso soba (800yen)

...and shio with wontons for Hearts.

Wonton shio soba (1050yen)

When I ordered the miso, the staff took the time to explain that the bowl is normally too rich for most female customers and wanted to make sure that was what I wanted. I guess some foreigners might feel the staff is being intrusive, but this concern is actually a sign of consideration for the customer. It's a good example of omotenashi, the Japanese word for "hospitality," where the staff goes above and beyond to make you feel like you are being cared for.

The miso looks heavy and rich, and it's thick like potage, but the broth was balanced by lots of vegetables, some special tart sauce, and thick, flavorful noodles. This might be "ramen for men," but I'll be craving it in the cold of winter.

The shio, however, was even more surprising. One bite in, I tasted the strong flavor of the dashi, comprised of a half dozen different types of salt and lots of seafood stock. More than any bowl I've had, this shio tasted rich but delicate, like the sort of umami-laden broth you might be served in a kaiseki meal at an expensive Japanese ryokan. Everything else in the bowl is of the highest quality, from the hand-made noodles to the flavorful chashu to the crisp menma to the juicy wontons (always get the wontons). Hearts said this was one of the best two or three bowls of shio ramen he's ever had, and I'm inclined to agree.

Kuroki has some interesting side dishes and a Friday-only duck soba. They deserve all the awards, and probably a few more, though let's keep Michelin and it's star system away. We don't want the lines at this place getting any longer.

Tokyo, Chiyoda-ku, Kanda Izumicho 2-15
Closest stn: Akihabara

Open from 11am-3pm and 6-9pm (closed Sundays and Wednesday nights)


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