Below are my "hot picks" for ramen-ya I'm interested in visiting. Research was based cross-referencing the two largest databases, two 2007 version of Tokyo ramen guidebooks, and the Japanese blogosphere. A couple of quick general comments:
First, the more professional looking RamenDB is an interesting operation and it led me to Rokurinsha. But the rankings this week seem to be very heavily weighted down with various Ramen Jiro locations. I'm assuming, hoping actually, that this is a result of some mass media coverage and that future weeks will settle down. The second database is the one I've been really using for years. I keep trying to find some comment or reference that it is more than one person who has eaten at all these shops, taken pictures, written down menus, and posted about it. But I find no indication that this is a site created and maintained by one passionate individual. What an amazing accomplishment.
My picks are based rather randomly on what caught my fancy going through everything. I'm most interested in the Rokurinsha style of blended broths, which are usually a precarious balance of tonkotsu and various fish. I'm referencing Rokurinsha because it's the first place I tried such a broth like this (other then something like Koumen), but I'm not sure who came up with this. Nevertheless, from the types of these shops popping up, the high ratings they garner, and the television coverage they receive, it seems to me they represent a serious new trend in Japanese ramen. We're probably several years into it.
The other shops are places I've been interested in a while or places that simply sound different. They are geographically spread out around Tokyo and a couple have home shops in Kanagawa. For simple mapping convenience, I've posted the link to their respective RamenDB pages, which provides full hours, address, and a Google map link.
Located in Kiba
-Current RamenDB #1 and Tabelog #1
Located in Monzen Nakacho
-Sounds similar to Rokurinsha
Located in Kudanshita
-Blended broth with strong fish broth tendencies, but still "well-balanced".. High quality fish ingredients are sourced directly from Tsukiji. Great looking half-boiled eggs.
Located in Ikebukuro, Shinagawa, Kawasaki, Shibuzawa
-Kumamoto style tonkotsu place that's won some TV contests. This place is in the beginning stages of becoming a chain. The Shibuzawa location is the home shop, but is incredibly inconvenient from central Tokyo.
Located in Hon-Atsugi
-Know for their shio, but more especially for their chicken broth. Not in Tokyo though, but accessible by Odakyu Line from Shinjuku.
Located in Ichigaya
-Thick chicken broth cooked over 8 hours, hand-thrown noodles, miso base.
Located in Shinjuku (home shop is elswhere)
-Two types of miso, thick noodles, piled on toppings. One blogger called this as unique and distinct a character ramen as Jiro. Sort of sounds like a love it or hate it class of its' own.
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