★★★ ラーメン 御天 (Goten) - Tokyo
Goten is not for the faint of heart. This tonkotsu ramen is so raw and un-refined that some people might find it difficult just to step into the store. Goten's owner is from Hakata city, Kyushu island, he wanted to recreate the authentic ramen flavor that he grew up eating in Hakata. What he created was a soup with such a strong tonkotsu smell that it punches you straight in the nose with your first step into Goten. On this day I ordered the ラーメン (ramen), the simple straightforward ramen and nothing else.
The Soup - is strong stuff. Oily, thick, with the very, very strong tonkotsu smell, yet I find it totally addictive. The soup was difficult to sip on its own, I had to add a lot of extra toppings (which is available on every table in Goten) raw garlic, 辛高菜 (takana spicy pickled vegetables), and 紅生姜 (beni-shoga pickled ginger) before I could really start eating the ramen. The combination of the soup with all these toppings was overwhelming with the all strong flavors and smells coming together in one small bowl.
The Noodles - are extreme as well. Very, very thin and very, very hard. I ordered the noodles to be 粉おとし (kona-otoshi) which is very hard. I heard that they basically cook the noodles in the boiling water for a few seconds and serves it to you. The firmness of the noodles matches the style of this ramen, which just seems to be a combination of extremes.
The Toppings - are out of the ordinary. The cha-shu pork and green onions, nori dry seaweed add a little bit of different flavor to the ramen, but without a doubt they play just a small supportive roll to this ramen. Pile on the garlic and pickled vegetables with this ramen, you'd be surprised how much you can put in without it taking over the taste of the soup and noodles.
Overall - I have a hard time comparing Goten to other ramen places. For me, the experience eating here is only comparable to eating at a food stand in Taiwan or SE Asia (Have you ever had stinky tofu or pigs blood soup?). Goten is not for the ramen novice, come here only if you have tried tonkotsu ramen and enjoyed it. I would actually recommend you try Nanden-Kanden first before you try Goten. But for me, Goten is a place that I will always return when I need my tonkotsu and garlic fix. I also recommend the にんにくラーメン (garlic ramen) which uses a different type of garlic than what's available on the table.