RAMEN | 中華ソバ 伊吹 (Chukasoba Ibuki)

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Visiting the reigning Niboshi king for a weekday lunch at a slightly off center location and luckily managed to squeeze in within an hour before they sold out. Yet another case of self-made expert, said to have visited more than 500 ramen joints before finalising his own style, Mimura-san (三村悠介) settled with Niboshi (dried baby sardines) finally back in 2011, widely believed to be the next big thing then after the much hyped noko gyokai. Interestingly after these years only a handful made it to the hall of fame alongside Ibuki really, with the exceptions being the Osaka-based Sanku, said to be hugely influenced by Mimura-san anyway, the fellow Tokyoite Ito, and the much hyped Nagi in Shinjuku. Just making sure that you have been warned, the shop did put up a big sign out front claiming that it is not a style for everyone, due to its bitter and fishy-ness, and people should think twice if they are not certain. Even if Niboshi is your cup of tea, the dosage used here is close to a ‘crazy’ level as claimed by some. If the PR-centric Nagi can make a big fuss out of their 60g a bowl of Niboshi, think Ibuki’s 130-200g dosage per bowl and you get the picture. For Niboshi lovers however, the bowl turned out to be the most seafood flavoured ramen one can find out there, and the accompanying chopped onion and braised pork are perfect icing on the cake, on top of the noodles from 三河屋製麺 that needs no further introduction. Not the most convenient location but if one is on the Mita-line heading towards Kanda for some curry, it is a easy detour. Go there early for both sessions to avoid disappointment as they really do serve only a few decades per day. One on the wish list for joints to be brought into town no doubt!

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