As I mentioned before, I still have every intention of eating my way through the rest of the Waseda-Baba ramen zone. One's gotta finish what one starts y'all. That said, now that I'm living out in Nakano-ku, my daily bike rides are taking me through parts further west, so you can probably expect to see more posts of ramen shops along the Chuo and Seibu Shinjuku lines (in areas like Kôenji, Asagaya, Nogata, and the like), as well as bowls in Baba and here and there across town.
Anyhoo, it should come as no surprise to anyone who reads this blog with any regularity that one of the first things I did upon getting settled in my new place was to go track down a legit bowl of Hakata-style tonkotsu (pork marrow) ramen! Cruising on my bike near Higashi-Koenji, I caught a whiff of The Smell, the incomparable stench of slow roasting pork bones that emanates from every Hakata ramen joint worth its salt, as well as from yr own pores for hours after you chow down. The culprit: Barikote, a cozy little shop located on Ôkubo-dôri. I made a mental note and came back the next day, sliding in just before the shutter went down at the end of lunch service.
The sign at Barikote (which translates roughly as "Good'n'Strong") proclaims "True Hakata-style ramen, with no quarter given and no concessions made to Tokyo tastes!" I've never been to Hakata(...yet), so I'm in no position to judge the veracity of that statement, but it may well be truth in advertising. What I got was a tangle of thin, hard, white noodles in a thick yellowish-white soup, served at the very un-Tokyo-style price of 600 yen. A first sip revealed a soup not as brutally pungent as some bowls I've had, but it was creamy, smooth, and unfuckedaroundwith. Yum, man!
All that was left was to turn the mother out with a generous amount of the tableside toppings that make Hakata ramen what it is - red pickled ginger, ground white sesame, minced garlic, and spicy pickled takana mustard greens. Remember kids, if your bowl doesn't look like a garbage dump by the end, you're not doing it right!
While there isn't really anything to set it head and shoulders above the other Hakata-style bowls I've had in the city, Barikote's ramen is certainly solid, and I had not a single complaint. Noodles are, of course, available in a spectrum of 5-ish firmnesses, ranging from soft to...raw. Raw?
Quoth the Ol` Dirty Bastard, "Baby I like it raw." Barikote's noodles are shipped in from Hakata (maybe as often as every morning), and are fresh enough to eat after a half-second dip in boiling water to rinse the flour off.
I have to say, I prefer the next step of firmness down, but you gotta give props for dishing it out proper. In addition to the ramen, Barikote serves a whole phalanx of Hakata-style snacks, including sweet egg omlettes with cod roe and other delicious dishes. I noticed their webpage has a gallery of photos of regulars; keep your eyes peeled for a pic of this ramen writer!