Friday, December 5, 2014

Hirugao (Tōkyō-to, Ōta-ku)

塩らーめん専門 ひるがお (大岡山店)
しおらーめんせんもん ひるがお
Shio Ramen Senmon Hirugao (Oookayama ten)

Shio ramen: 15 / 20

Shio tsukemen: 14 / 20

A branch of Hirugao in the relatively remote area of Okayama station, that's an unexpected discovery! Ten minutes west of Meguro by train, Okayama station is located just next a campus of Tokyo Tech University, which probably explains the relatively high number of ramen shops around. Hirugao had always been a bit special for me, as it is the first restaurant (at the Tokyo ramen street branch) where I tried shio tsukemen, four years ago, a dish that had always puzzled me (how can you dip noodles in a clear broth?). This time, though, I went with their more classical shio ramen.

Broth: Simple and elegant, with just enough fattiness and a hint of yuzu. It concentrates nicely the taste of all ingredients - although I could not recognize the niboshi in it.

Noodles: Straight and firm enough.

Meat: A thin slice of chashu, relatively lean and very firm, with some crunchy fat inside and a caramelized taste - not the kind of soft, fatty chashu I usually prefer, but very decent though.

Toppings: Some relatively thin menma with, surprisingly, a taste of braised meat. And some viscous seaweed for an interesting twist.

Like many shio ramen, this is a simple bowl, but I appreciated its subtle simplicity. Kind of similar in terms of quality to Ryukishin in Kyoto (and in Kansai airport). If you are on a diet or care a bit about your health, you should consider this bowl.

The day after, I came back to try their shio tsukemen:

Broth: The broth in itself had a quite intense (and salty) taste, and it coated nicely the noodles, but still, not enough taste could be transfered to them. The soup wari at the end brought some fishy twist – and was quite different from the more meaty and umami shio ramen broth.

Noodles: Quite peculiar: slightly curly noodles with a relatively soft and starchy out part, but a relatively firm inner core.

Meat: A few pieces of firm chashu, with hard fat - it had a pleasant, slightly braised taste.

Egg: Two halves of an egg, but it didn't look like an ajitama as far as I can see (the outer part was very white, so there is no sign that it had been marinated). Well cooked, with a gooey yellow.

Toppings: Some long, thin crunchy menma with a mild, salty taste. Some scallops in the soup, a quite nice addition.

Overall, this was a pleasant dish but it did not convince me that shio tsukemen could be something special. Therefore, I put myself on a mission: try the best shio tsukemen of the capital city in the next few days, to see if there could be anything interesting with this uncommon dish! More info on this soon...

More info on ramendb.

Other reviews: Friends in Ramen, Ramen Adventures, Gastrolust, Enjoyramen

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