The world-conquering ramen may have the reputation of being a pragmatic comfort food, but over at Ginza Hachigo, it’s elevated into a refined, elegant dish. Owner-chef Yasushi Matsumura’s training has much to do with this; once you realise he’s worked more than 30 years in French cuisine, you’ll see how this bowl of ramen came into being.
Ginza Hachigo’s ramen soup is like consommé: a clear liquid gold that’s light yet complex and full of flavour. It’s made by boiling down Nagoya Cochin chicken, duck, scallop, dried tomatoes and shiitake mushrooms, konbu (seaweed), an heirloom green onion from Kyoto and surprisingly, cured ham. Where your standard bowl of ramen calls for tare, a sauce concentrate that acts like a seasoning, Matsumura eschews that for a sprinkling of French sea salt to round out the flavours. And it’s just phenomenal.
The bowl of noodles is then topped with strands of bamboo shoots, slivers of green onion and slices of chashu pork, and finished with a fresh crack of black pepper. Those fatty pork pieces are cooked so perfectly that the fat just coats your palette with a sweet, creamy, savoury goodness. Better yet, this Bib Gourmand-rated ramen will only set you back ¥1,100; throw in an extra ¥100 and you’ll get a perfect boiled egg with a gooey yolk.
The interior of this discreet and unusually calm noodle shop in Higashi-Ginza looks just as refined as its sophisticated ramen. The tiny space seats only six diners along a counter that overlooks a surprisingly pristine kitchen. To secure your spot, you’ll have to be prepared to queue. The restaurant has no booking system, so we recommend getting there early and being patient – it’ll be one of the best bowls of ramen you’ll have in Tokyo.