I'm guessing that a lot of y'all have known my blog primarily as Ramenate, but those who have been around for a little bit know that it started out as Waseda Ramen, my quest to eat at all of the 100 or so ramen shops within spitting distance of Waseda University. Eventually I moved out of the 'hood and started casting my noodle net a bit wider, but I still frequently find myself in my previous precincts, usually on trips to the library for research. And when I do head Wasedawards, you better believe my eye roves around to check and see what's new on the local noodle scene.
This time around, I was shocked and surprised to discover that local stalwart RYOMA is no longer. For those of you still wanting to try out their famous tomato and cheese shio ramen, the Arai Yakushi original branch is still very much still in business, but the Waseda storefront is no longer, having been recently replaced with newcomer Fukuyama Ramen Tonton.
To be honest, I can't really wrap my head around what's happening with Fukuyama ramen. There is an obscure regional style known as Fukuyama ramen, hailing from Hiroshima prefecture with a strong shôyu (soy sauce) base made with chicken stock, not dissimilar to neighboring Onomichi ramen. But this doesn't seem to be that. Rather, the team at Tonton claims that the takana topping of spicy pickled mustard greens found their way onto Kyushu-style tonkotsu pork bone ramen before making a round trip to Hakata. Huh?
In any case, the resulting bowl is essentially indistinguishable from Hakata style ramen - a whitish creamy pork soup (with perhaps a bit of chicken stock added in this case) filled out with extra thin, extra firm, extra straight noodles.
Pretty bare bones, but trick it out with the standard setting of pickled red ginger, ground sesame, raw garlic, and of course the trademark takana, and you'll be all set to go. Tasty for sure, but nothing above and beyond any of the other more or less standard Hakata-style joints around town. The takana were, however, above average.
Tasty enough that after I gruzzed it down...
...I got my de rigeur kaedama (noodle refill) to be sure and get myself way too full for the rest of the day. It's when I don't even want an extra noodle helping that a tonkotsu place is in trouble, so in the final analysis, Fukuyama Ramen Tonton gets the worthy nod, even if it's nothing spectacular. You could do a lot worse than a decent bowl of Hakata...er, Fukuyama ramen, no matter what the neighborhood.