Ramen Garaku: Gourmet ramen in leafy Azamino
Ramen Garaku (らーめん 雅楽) is a solid little ramen shop in Azamino, just outside Tokyo. Opened in July 2014, the bright and breezy, contemporary cafe interior sets a departure from the traditional ramen-ya experience. The ramen, too, is top-notch and a pleasant hidden gem to stumble across if passing through this largely unassuming suburban neighbourhood between Azamino and Tama-Plaza.
Garaku is spearheaded by owner-chef, Kadono-san, who brings considerable experience from his previous ramen shop venture, Do Miso, in Tokyo's Kyobashi district.
As you'd guess their miso ramen is pretty popular, with its blend of 7 miso varieties making for an intensely rich, flavour-packed broth. It's reminiscent of the style served at Do Miso, and is topped with generous slices of pork, bean sprouts and more.
Their kiage (raw soy sauce) shoyu ramen is a safer choice is you're looking to avoid the heavier miso and you won't be disappointed either. The shoyu soup is carefully prepared from ingredients ranging from Daisendori chicken from Tottori to seafood and contains a blend of raw soy sauces. The medium-thickness noodles are firm and chewy – as can be expected from the respected producer, Mikawaya Seimen. Garaku also has a monthly special to match the season, which will vary wildly from exotic choices like the green curry miso ramen to chilled Chuka Soba with ginger.
Garaku is just a few minutes walk up the road from Azamino station on the Tokyu-Denentoshi Line, and the northern terminus on Yokohama's Blue Line. On my outing, I was passing through Azamino and looking for a quick lunch option. Whilst there is a nearby Konshinya dishing out bowls of fatty Tonkotsu Shoyu in closer proximity to the station, Garaku will be the shop with patrons lined up outside and will definitely reward you for seeking it out.