ラーメン吉村屋 Yoshimura-ya

This is where Yokohama’s famous iekei (家系, literally “house-type”) ramen originated. I’d been to many of the imitators that use the iekei label, but this was my first visit to Yoshimura-ya. Apparently anyone wishing to use the iekei label has to first train under Yoshimura-san before starting their own business. Then they are free to adapt the recipe as the like. I arrived on a rainy Tuesday in February just past noon. There was a long queue outside, but fortunately there are almost as many seats outside as there are inside, so that made the wait a little more comfortable.

09 Outside

I was instructed to buy a ticket, which was just a plastic tag, at the machine before joining the queue. Luckily, after five minutes a big group of workers left together, so everyone who was waiting got in easily. Inside it was very working class. There were a few office workers, but the clientele were mostly factory workers. The staff dress in white from head to toe — t-shirt, pants, rubber boots, and towel rolled and tied around the head.

01 Counter view

My order was simple — ramen. As at other iekei shops, you can adjust the firmness of the noodles, richness of flavour and amount of oil. As always, I ordered firm (かため) noodles and left the rest as is. It came topped with three pieces of nori seaweed, some spinach and two chunks of pork.

02 Ramen

Similar to other iekei shops, the noodles were only slightly firm. If there were an extra firm (ばりかた) option, I would’ve taken it. Still, they were nice thick yellow noodles.

04 Noodles

The pork had a really nice smoky flavour. It was just a little chewy, but lean.

04 Pork

Now for the soup. Iekei is known for its shoyu tonkotsu (soy sauce and pork bone) broth, and it was fantastic. It had such a nice brown colour and was full of flavour. The pork really dominated the flavour. It was excellent. This is why people come to Yoshimura-ya.

03 Soup

I think this was the best iekei ramen I’ve had. It wasn’t nearly as heavy or salty as some of the others, and the soup was outstanding. A few years ago, I visited Sugita-ya, which I believe is affiliated with Yoshimura-ya. I’ll try to get down there soon so that I can compare the two.

05 Counter

Score: 9/10

Location: About a 10-minute walk from the west exit of Yokohama Station.

Address: 神奈川県横浜市西区南幸2-12-6 (Kanagawa-ken, Yokohama-shi, Nishi-ku, Minamisaiwai 2-12-6)

Price: ¥660 (¥760 with extra noodles)

Seating: 26 counter seats and 4 table seats.

極楽鳥 Gokurakucho

This was probably the eighth time I’ve been to Gokurakucho, and my second time reviewing it. I normally order the shio ramen, but today I wanted to try the shoyu. It was a cold, wet day in early February. There was a short wait, but it was worth it for a hot bowl of ramen on a winter’s day.

01 Shop

The shio ramen is the most popular here, but I ordered the kotteri shoyu (heavy/rich soy sauce) ramen. It came topped with chopped leeks, shungiku (chrysanthemum greens), an egg, two slices each of pork and chicken. The pro is always a bit hit and miss here. They give you a generous portion, but it’s sometimes a little tough. The chicken is always good — soft, juicy and smoky. And shungiku is really nice with ramen.

02 Torikotsu Shoyu

The soup was nice. The broth is from torikotsu (chicken bone) with a shoyu base. It had a nice brown colour with lots of flavour. There was a fair bit of oil on the surface, but I don’t mind that on a cold day.

03 Soup

In addition to the generous amount of meat it’s topped with, this ramen also comes with a huge portion of noodles. They were thick, firm and chewy — typical Yokohama-style noodles. I was absolutely stuffed by the time I slurped the last one.

04 Noodles

The specialty at Gokurakucho is shio ramen, and I’d have to say I recommend it over the shoyu. The shoyu ramen is really good, but the shio is just so amazing. But it’s nice to try this one just for some variety if you go to Gokurakucho as often as I do.

Score: 8/10

Location: Along the Tsunashima-Kawasaki and Tsunashima-Tsurumi bus routes, about a 20-minute walk from Tsunashima Station.

Address: 神奈川県横浜市港北区樽町3丁目4-12

Price: From 720 yen

Seating: Two tables for four, five counter seats