February 12, 2014
My new neighborhood in Tokyo is called Yayoicho, just a mile west of Shinjuku, one of the biggest entertainment and nightlife spots on planet earth. It’s like Times Square, only if New Yorkers hung out there all the time instead of clueless tourists and touts. My part of town is pretty suburban, with a cluster of shops around the station and about thirteen FamilyMarts within a 100 meter radius of my apartment.
That tall building you see is Tokyo City Hall. You can go to the observation floor at the top for free and see sights like this.
Or on clear days, Mt. Fuji.
And this is Koshin.
I’ve always wanted my own neighborhood ramen shop. Silverlake Ramen in Los Angeles was a six minute bike ride away. Koshin is a two minute walk.
Niboshi (dried baby sardine) ramen was big last year. It’s pork broth infused with massive amounts of dried baby sardines, the same tiny fish you can find as snacks anywhere in Japan, making goldfish crackers look like some kind of sick joke.
Standard miso soup is based on a niboshi broth, but the ramen variety takes it one louder.
2000 points for the minimalist presentation.
What can I say? I can’t believe this place is right around the corner from my new home. Each of the few ingredients is succinctly executed. It’s a light broth, suitable for a date (hint hint) and the toppings act accordingly. The chashu isn’t laden with fat or soy sauce. The noodles are suitably al dente, but not so hard as Hakata style noodles. The menma (bamboo shoots) are fantastic.
Just look at those bamboo babies! They’re taken from supporting role and thrust into the spotlight here, and their slight dark tangy flavor leaves you craving more of the salty soup. The kaiware (baby daikon radish shoots) land a visual and textural punch. Time to carb up boys!
This is starting to sound like a newspaper review, so I’ll end with this:
Koshin isn’t one of the niboshi big boys but there’s nothing like it in LA. I can get used to this. And the Nintendo Bar.
Nakano-ku, Yayoicho 3-17-2