俺の空 Ore no Sora

Only a few days after having a fantastic bowl of gyokai ramen at Miharu in the same ramen gekisenku (fierce ramen war region) area of Ikebukuro, I had to go back to check out another competitor. This time I went for Ore no Sora.

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There was no one waiting outside, so I thought I had lucked out. However, this is Tokyo on a Sunday afternoon, so of course that was too good to be true. There was a queue inside. We decided to wait. It took 30 minutes. I don’t normally bother to wait more than five minutes for food, but I made a special exception here.

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Inside there’s a dark corridor between the entrance and the counter. As we moved along in the queue, the smell of the fishy broth got stronger and stronger.

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It’s quite a nice shop. It has an open kitchen with lots of stainless steel and exposed concrete. There are twelve counter seats but no tables.

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I ordered kake buta soba (掛け豚そば; literally “pork on buckwheat noodles”). It was topped with chopped onions and green onions, a small piece of nori, and a pile of pulled pork. It looked absolutely delicious and I couldn’t wait to dig in.

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I’ll start with the soup. It was outstanding – beautiful, thick tonkotsu-gyokai that smelled and tasted like katsuo bushi (bonito flakes). You can see little fish flakes in the soup.

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It’s not so common in Tokyo ramen, but this ramen had thin, straight noodles. They were very tasty.

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The pork was a highlight (along with the soup). I don’t think I’ve ever had ramen with shredded pork. It was soft and juicy. If they offered chashu men (ramen with extra pork) I’d order it for sure.

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We also ordered these steamed prawn dumplings. It’s always nice when there are good side dishes to choose from.

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Ore no Sora is excellent. It’s right up there with its local rival Miharu. Both the soup and pork are wonderful and I would definitely go here regularly if I lived in Ikebukuro.

Score: 9.5/10

Location: About 10 minutes from Ikebukuro Station.

Address: 東京都豊島区東池袋1-31-7 (Tokyo-to, Toshima-ku, Higashiikebukuro 1-31-7)

Price: ¥800

Seating: Counter only – twelve seats

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らすた Rasuta

After having ramen twice in as many days, I decided to make it three in three. But instead of venturing into Tokyo, I stayed a little closer to home and checked out Rasuta (as in rastafarian) near Hiyoshi Station. This shop looks old and has very basic decor. Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” played on a loop the entire time I was there.

01 Shop

I ordered a bowl of Rasuta men from the machine but declined the free rice service. Rice with noodles is crazy unless you’re on a high-carb diet. It was served covered in seven pieces of nori.

02 Ramen

Under all that nori was half an egg, green onions, steamed spinach, and three pieces of pork.

03 Ramen

My first thought was that it looked and tasted like iekei ramen, but there was no sign advertising that style. I wasn’t asked if I wanted to change the flavour of the soup, but the other customers were. It was a bit salty and oily, but not as heavy as you’d expect from other iekei imitators.

04 Soup

The noodles were thick and chewy, and there was a good portion of them.

05 Noodles

It’s not often you get three thick pieces of pork. This pork was a little dry but had a really nice texture. I really liked it.

06 Pork

I would’t go out of my way to visit this shop, but if you’re in the area it’s certainly worth checking out.

07 Counter

Score: 7.5/10

Location: Less than 5 minutes on foot from Hiyoshi Station.

Address: 神奈川県横浜市港北区日吉本町1-5-41 (Kanagawa, Yokohama, Kohoku, Hiyoshi-honcho 1-5-41)

Price: ¥870 (Rasuta men); ¥620 (ramen)

Seating: 19 counter seats

瞠 Miharu

After having such a nice bowl of ramen a couple of days earlier at Emoto Masahiro, I was curious to try some more Tokyo-style fishy ramen. I had heard of the area unofficially known as “Ramen Gekisenku” (literally “intense ramen battle area”) in Ikebukuro. Apparently there are a number of popular ramen shops in the area that are all competing for supremacy, so I decided to check out one called Miharu. I went for lunch on a Tuesday, so luckily there was no wait.01 Shop

As soon as I entered the shop, I could smell the fishy broth. It was strong. I ordered noko gyokai (濃厚魚介, rich fish-flavoured) ramen with free extra noodles. It was topped with one piece of nori, three huge pieces of menma, green onions, and one thick slice of pork.

02 Noko Gyokai Ramen

The soup was a beautiful brown colour with some small fish flakes floating around in it. It was so full of flavour. And it was fishy, which is exactly what I expect from Tokyo-style ramen.

04 Soup

The noodles were thinner that Yokohama-style noodles. They were firm and a bit chewy – just how I like them. I’m glad I ordered free chu mori (中盛り, extra noodles).

05 Noodles

The pork was one of the highlights of this ramen. Although it only came with one slice, it was thick, soft, and fairly lean. It melted in my mouth. I noticed that there was chashumen on the menu, so I might order that next time I go.

06 Pork

Miharu is one of the best ramen shops I’ve been to. It was outstanding. I feel bad for the competition in the area because I don’t see how they can contend with Miharu. And I’m now officially a fan of Tokyo ramen. In fact, it might be my favourite style of ramen now.

07 Outside

Score: 9.5/10

Location: Less than 10 minutes on foot from JR Ikebukuro Station.

Address: 東京都豊島区東池袋1-31-16 (Tokyo-to, Toshima-ku, Higashi Ikebukuro 1-31-16)

Price: ¥780

Seating: 12 counter seats