Friday, January 26, 2007

Ganko ramen, Takadanobaba/Waseda

(JR Takadanobaba station, Waseda exit/Tôzai Takadanobaba statio, Waseda exit: Head down Waseda-dôri, after approx 7 min, you'll cross Meiji-dôri in a big intersection. Keep going for three-four minutes until you see Ippûdô [一風堂] on your right-hand side. Dive down the small alley on the left-hand side of Waseda-dôri, just across from Ippûdô. Look for a black, non-descript tent with a bone(!) hanging out in front)

What: Ramen (shio/shôyû)
Recommendation: Shio
Verdict: Highly Addictive

The Story
There seems to be a kind of a law out there, that a good ramen joint has a stubborn chef, wh
ose dedication to the noble art of noodling is so absolute that no trivial concern - like pleasing customers - is allowed to interfere with his quest for the perfection of his craft. Now, with the insane competition among restaurants in Tokyo, no one really expects this practice to be upheld. All the more refreshing when someone actually does. Let there be no doubt; Ganko ("stubborn") ramen lives up to its name.

The Place
Well, what can I say? The length this gu
y goes to to not advertise the fact that he is running a business, is impressive. No sign, no poster, just a black, non-descript tent. which covers the entrance of the building. The only signal he sends out to the world that he actually is in there, is the animal bone which hangs on the outside when he's open. Step inside, and it's equally impressive: Five seats in an old (definitely not retro, just plain old), grimy joint, in which the kitchen, filled with monstrous pots and pans filled with heaven knows what, occupies more than half of the space. Here, it's the chef who is god: No excessive talking, no dallying (or the noodles will get soggy), no talking on the mobile. Oh, and if I can't get the taste of the soup right, I don't bother to open the store that day.

In short: I love it.

The noodles
Go for the shio-ramen (he also serves shôyû and occasionally has periods where he serves experimental ramen, like prawn-based soup stock), 700 yen. Unhurriedly, he'll start preparing the noodles, slicing the pork, heating the seasoning oil. Finally, he puts the bowl on the counter, and pours sizzling, hot oil over the mound of leek on top. At first the soup seems straight-forward; it's nowhere near as sophisticated as Sakurazaka. But then you discover that it has depths, and a unique flavour which no other place I've been to has been able to copy. To put it this way: Sakurazaka makes for a good first impression, but it's ganko's ramen I keep coming back to (and not only because it's just around the corner from my appartment). I admit it; I'm a ganko junkie.

Has the jury reached its verdict?
Must... have... ganko...

1 comment:

Magnolia said...

You write very well.