Hototogisu | 金色不如帰
Style: Shoyu w/ Clams or Niboshi
Bowl to Crush: Niboshi-soba Ajitama-iri on Thursdays, Ajitama-soba shoyu on other days (煮干そば 味玉入り or 味玉そば 醤油)
Hototogisu opened to some acclaim in 2006, and the shop's reputation has only soared since. When we first ate here in 2008, we were left wondering what all the hype was about. Two years later, we ate at Hototogisu again and were wowed. The master, Yamamoto-san, is a ramen rock star. Anything he cooks these days draws crowds. We've come to think that our ramen palette simply wasn't experienced enough at the time of our first visit to fully grasp what he was up to.
The core menu at Hototogisu is shoyu and shio, both in ramen and tsukemen. All of the ingredients are natural, high quality and used only in small batches. No MSG or preservatives. Yamamoto-san was one of the first chefs to gain acclaim for using hamaguri clams as the base of his dashi (soup stock, typically from fish and kelp). The clams add a delicate, ocean-like quality to the broth.
Also interesting: On Thursdays, the menu changes. Instead of making his broth with hamaguri, Yamamoto-san mixes it up and makes his dashi with niboshi (dried baby sardines), a much more typical ramen ingredient. In our view, Yamamoto-san's shoyu-niboshi ramen is the best thing he regularly serves. Reserve a Thursday; it's simply incredible.
Yamamoto-san also recently started serving a ridiculously complex miso ramen on Fridays only. This dish uses four different soups – two beef -based broths, and two made from more traditional Japanese ingredients, such as kelp and dried fish – all mixed together. An innovative and ambitious bowl.
On top of his regular menu, Yamamoto-san occasionally does special collaborations and limited-edition dishes, of which he serves just 10 bowls all day. Friday used to be Yamamoto-san's day off – he's now in the shop making world-class ramen every day of the week. A true beast.
The shop is tiny – only eight seats.
Hototogisu | 金色不如帰（コンジキホトトギス）
Opening Hours: 11:30am-3pm, 6:30pm-10pm
Days Closed: None