Try the Michelin-starred ramen that costs only 1,000 yen in a modest location in the center of Tokyo

Ramen at Soba House Konjiki Hototogisu received a Michelin star in 2018 (Claire Jenq / Stars and Stripes)

Right in the heart of Tokyo, you will find some of the most luxurious ramen you will ever try.

The soba restaurant, which received a Michelin star in 2018, is out of business in one of the many stunning and impressive skyscrapers that line the main street of Shinjuku. Instead, it’s in a modest building in a dark alley off the main road, and the food is dirt cheap.

My friend and I took the train to Tokyo on a Tuesday night to try the Michelin-starred ramen soba house kongeki hototogisu that sells for 1,000 yen, About $7.40 at the current exchange rate.

Even though we arrived 30 minutes before opening time, there were quite a few other people Line up – a neat young couple laughing on their phones and a man in a suit who looked like he had just left work.

My friend and I were the only Americans, and probably the only mothers who left their husbands and young children for dinner alone.

As we stood in line discussing what kind of ramen we would try, a warm, damp, dirty smell wafted from the vent hood that was next to the queue. It’s a scent I associate with truffles.

Having grown up in the States when truffles were in vogue, I remembered—not without a slight sense of disgust—when truffle flavor was added to everything, from macaroni and cheese to French fries. Since truffles are expensive, most of the truffle flavors used are likely to be artificial. I didn’t care After that, I was a little worried because Soba House Konjiki Hototogisu uses black truffles in many dishes.

Once the restaurant opened, the line moved quickly. Ramen is like fast food in America: you pay, you eat, you go. The whole process was sped up by a vending machine inside the entrance. Next to the vending machine was a helpful diagram with English subtitles, but me and my friend, aware of the extra time we were taking matching the diagram’s translations to the vending machine buttons, felt some pressure to make the selection quickly.

Soba House Konjiki Hototogisu serves a salt-based soup (shio), a soy sauce-based soup (shoyu), or a combination of the two. We decided to order the set, tsuke soba with shio And shoyu broth. I also added a soaked egg (agitama) and pork char siu.

We sat at the table in front of the chefs, and our food was ready in less than 10 minutes. Took a minute to admire the fragrant pot steaming in front of me, took some photos and then the race started. I hurriedly twisted the noodles, trying to keep up with the young couple who were doing the same thing at a nearby table.

Usually, ramen is served with ramen noodles. Soba House Konjiki Hototogisu specializes in tsuki soba, ramen with soba noodles Fresh at home. They had a great chewy texture and were brown speckled with buckwheat flour.

The familiar taste of the soup hides its layers of complex flavors. Shiny bubbles of liquid fat float to the surface of a broth that’s salty enough to season every dose of pasta but too salty to swallow on its own. I sampled a few spoons anyway, just to see what their ingredients were.

Soba House Konjiki Hototogisu says on its website that its chefs use a combination of “animal stew, duck soup, and Japanese-style dashi.” I discovered the pungent taste of unconventional poultry and dashi, but I’m sure an element of pork added rich thickness to the soup.

To my relief, there was no fake truffle flavor to overpower it. Instead, the black truffle was carefully grated on top and was the perfect earthy ingredient to cover the layered flavors in the bowl.

Once we finished eating the ramen, we put our bowls on the table, and said, “Gochisousama deshita!” To the Chef, freeing our seats for the next waiting customers. We paid, ate and left, but I’ll be back.

Look for Soba House Konjiki Hototogisu behind this entrance in the back streets of Shinjuku.

Look for Soba House Konjiki Hototogisu behind this entrance in the back streets of Shinjuku. (Claire Junk/Stars and Stripes)

KONJIKI HOTOGISU SOBA HOUSE

Site: 2-4-1 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, 160-0022, Japan

directione: A 2-minute walk from the Marunouchi Line

hours: Open from 11 AM to 3 PM for lunch and from 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM for dinner. Closed every Sunday.

the prices: Noodle dishes start at 1,000 yen and up at 1,500, with extras. It is cash only.

dress: Official

Information: Online: sobahousekonjikihototogisu.com; Tel: +81 03-5315-4733.

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