The engine of Tokyo runs on ramen fuel. Stand on any Tokyo street corner and listen carefully. You’ll probably be able to hear the slurp of savory noodles quickly downed for breakfast, lunch and dinner in the thousands of ramen joints scattered across this vast megalopolis. One of my favorite joints is the Kyushu Jangara honten, main shop, in Akihabara just across the alleyway from a maid café.
Kyushu Jangara serves a tonkotsu-style ramen with a broth richly flavored by slow-simmered pork belly with the bones still attached. They add complexity to this mother stock with additional flavor notes from a chicken stock and a vegetable stock. Originally from Kyushu, tonkotsu is one of the most popular ramen broth styles which also include shio (salt), shoyu (soy sauce) and miso broths.
The signature bowl here is the 1000-yen zembu-iri (the whole kit and kaboodle), which means toppings of menma bamboo, meltingly tender pork belly, pork shoulder chashu, a hard-boiled egg, a spoonful of spicy tarako, slivers of tree ear mushrooms, and a handful of green scallion tops. The men noodles are as thin as capellini, angel hair pasta, and properly al dente. If you would like more noodles after you’ve slurped down the first batch, you can order another serving for 150 yen.
The shop also offers a few side dishes to go with your noodles. The vinegared cabbage, for 100 yen, turns out to be a quite tasty coleslaw.
And the “dry curry,” for 150 yen, is a tasty addition for the ravenous.
Seating is elbow to elbow at the counter or shoe-horned into a small chair at one of the three tiny tables. No one minds though.
The restaurant gets its name from the Kyushu jangara shamisen, a popular type of banjo, a soundtrack of which twangs out a constant stream of tunes to slurp by.
To find the Kyushu Jangara shop, head out of the maze of Akihabara station at the west exit toward Laox and Onoden. Cross the main street, Chuo Dori, with the tracks overhead. Turn right and walk along Chuo Dori about 4 blocks. You’ll find a Apple Mac store on the corner. Turn left and about 50 meters down this side street you’ll find the shop on the left. Look for the queue of people waiting to get a seat.
3-11-16 Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku. Open daily 10:30am to 11:30pm. Except Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays when they open one hour earlier at 9:30am. www.kyusyujangara.co.jp