Saturday, November 29, 2008

山小屋 (Yamagoya)

After the disappointment of Watanabe, I wanted a bowl of ramen I knew I would enjoy, so I sought out a nice little tonkotsu close to home. Just south of the Babakuchi intersection, on the west side of Meiji-dori is Yamagoya (Mountain Hut), which had some how escaped my attention despite being so close to where I live. With a big red sign out front screaming Kyushu ramen in professionally printed letters, Yamagoya looked to be another competitor vying for the title of national chain restaurant Hakata-style king.

The first thing I noticed when I walked in was the porn, or at least, the softcore semi-nude models on the cover of the weekly magazines and men's comics laid out on a table by the door. This fact, combined with the cheap prices, suggests that Yamagoya is going for the salaryman and commuter student market rather than the hip young women that Watanabe is gunning for. Besides, you don't meet too many women who are big tonkotsu freaks, at least not in Tokyo.

I was the only customer, but it was mid-afternoon and raining again, so it didn't really bother me. The cook was young and a bit talkative, at least for a ramen cook. There was a menu item called "student ramen," so I asked the cook if that meant there was a student discount, or if it was actually a different dish; he replied that the student ramen used a cheaper kind of pork, but was otherwise the same, so naturally I ordered that since I wasn't going to eat the pork anyways. A steal at only 500 yen in this day and age. Unfortunately, takana wasn't free, so I had to shell out a bit to get that topping, but I can't complain. After garnishing the bowl with a heap of ground sesame and plenty of bright red beni shôga, I had a fully loaded bowl of Hakata ramen that was, while not especially "deep" or mind blowing, very tasty and well-executed.

Of course, kaedama noodles were available, but I opted for a small order of mentaiko (pink cod roe) and rice, a steal at only 50 yen (!) Not the fanciest mentaiko in the world, but again, for 50 yen, I can't complain. It seems like this branch of Yamagoya just opened up last month, and it's a nice addition to the neighborhood, especially at such shockingly low prices.

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