Soba House Konjiki Hototogisu: Clam-flavoured broth, hidden away in Hatagaya
onjiki Hototogisu (金色不如帰) is a tiny ramen shop out in Tokyo's suburban Hatagaya, that's been operating since 2006. Eight seats occupy a cozy, L-shaped counter overlooking a tiny kitchen, with two chefs gracefully preparing bowls of ramen in synchronisation.
Hototogisu is known for a few things in ramen circles. First up, alongside Kagari, they achieved a Bib Gourmand in the Michelin Guide Tokyo 2016 – an incredible achievement for a ramen establishment, though just shy of the accolade that saw Tsuta hit the headlines late last year. Still, in such illustrious company, you can imagine Hototogisu often makes 'best ramen in Tokyo' lists and anecdotal evidence would seem to agree.
Also, on Thursdays and Fridays they mix up the menu a bit. Visitors can try the secret menu ('Ura Hototogisu') limited time option (previously spicy niboshi etc) every Thursday, while Friday is the day to go to try their beef and miso ramen – 'Hototogisu Ha', their third brand, serves up a blend of 2 Japanese dashi and 2 beef stocks, topped with A3-A5 ranked wagyu beef.
I'm here to try their Shoyu Ramen with ajitama soft-boiled egg (¥950). Shio (salt) is also on the menu, though I usually start with shoyu (soy sauce) which is something of a barometer for me to truly judge against other bowls.
The soup here is particularly well known for its signature use of clam—or hamaguri—which gives the chicken/pork-base soup a magnificent shellfish flavoured depth, alongside the blend of soy sauces.
Noodles are wholegrain, handmade and light – easy to pick up and devour at speed. The slice of char siu pork is perfectly tender, and the bowl is also topped with two kinds of sliced onion, extra long bamboo menma and a tartufata-style mix of olive, mushroom, anchovy and truffle on one side, with a cep mushroom oil on the other side of the bowl. Magical stuff!
Hatagaya Station is two stops from Shinjuku on the Keio-Shin line, though you can reach it in about 15 minutes from Shibuya taking the 66 from the bus terminal. It's on a side street off Rokugo shopping avenue, just a few minutes from the station.