|Tokusei niboshi soba (990yen)|
Oto, serving up another smooth as silk niboshi, usually has a small line of diverse clientele: salarymen, office laides, teenagers going home from cram school, hostesses about to begin an all-night shift represent this lively part of town. Oto, though, is refined, with a corridor that would befit an expensive kaiseki restaurant.
The glamour doesn't stop at the entrance. You are given an oshibori hot towel, and your ramen is served on a lacquer tray flecked with gold specks.
The ramen? Great stuff, with an assortment of toppings and seasonings to vary the flavor. The broth is surprisingly mild, given a freshness with bits of chopped scallion, onions, and yuzu peel, and the thin noodles are a nice match for this soup.
A standout is this chicken meatball comprised of bits of nankotsu, or chicken cartilage, which give the usual mushy texture of the meatballs a nice crunchiness.
Oto means "sound" in Japanese, and the day I visited the shop was noisy with the chatter of a couple young hostesses talking non-stop about non-ramen things. I'd imagine, though, that this austere setting would typically be a quiet meal amidst the bustle of the Kitasenju crowd on most days.
Tokyo, Adachi-ku, Senju 3-60
Closest stn: Kitasenju
Open from 1130am-3pm and 5-11pm