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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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

ラーメン惠本将裕 Ramen Emoto Masahiro

When I first moved to the Tokyo area five years ago, I was surprised at how fishy Tokyo-style ramen was. I didn’t care much for it so usually opted for Yokohama iekei or Hakata-style tonkotsu ramen. But recently I decided to give Tokyo ramen another chance. It was late March and I was planning to go to Naka-Meguro to see the cherry blossoms, so I checked out Emoto Masahiro while I was there.

01 Shop

This is a funny little shop. It’s a ramen shop during the day, and a Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki shop in the evening. I arrived just after 1pm on a Monday afternoon. All of the five customers were men. Two more arrived after me. A third arrived but was turned away because there was no more soup.

03 Ramen

There is only one item on the menu – niboshi (煮干, dried sardines) ramen. This is your classic Tokyo-style fish ramen with a shoyu base. It was topped with menma (bamboo shoots), chopped onion, spinach, a slice of nori seaweed, and about a 1/4 tablespoon scoop of grated ginger.

05 Soup

The soup had a nice brown colour and was full of fish flakes. It was extremely hot and burnt my tongue at first. But it tasted great.

04 Noodles

Hiding under a large slice of pork was a generous portion of noodles. These were typical Tokyo-style noodles — thinner than Yokohama noodles but thicker than the Hakata variety. The soup was so strong and dark that the noodles had turned brown.

02 Counter

This is a nice little shop. The soup is very fishy, but it’s really nice. I think I’ve acquired a taste for Tokyo-style ramen.

06 Sakura

Score: 8.5/10

Location: Just a few minutes on foot from Naka-Meguro Station.

Address: 東京都目黒区上目黒2丁目7-10 (Tokyo-to, Meguro-ku, Kamimeguro 2-7-10)

Price: ¥800

Seating: 7 counter seats