Sunday, May 07, 2006

★★★ 野方ホープ軒 (Nogata Hope-ken) - Tokyo

Nogata Hope is a popular ramen store in Tokyo that serves a tonkotsu based shoyu soup ramen that many have termed it "背脂チャッチャ" which literally means "pork fat cha-cha". This style of ramen was started in Tokyo about 20 years ago. "Cha-cha" is not a dance, here it's describing the motion of straining a piece of pork fat through a strainer and raining the little bits of fat over a bowl of ramen. Needless to say, the ramen I had on this day easily falls on the extreme end of oily. I ordered the 全部入りラーメン (zenbu-iri ramen) or "ramen with everything in it".

The Soup - is a rich tonkotsu based, shoyu flavored soup. From the picture you might notice the little bits of white colored pork fat floating on the soup. You can actually request the amount of "cha-cha" or fat on the soup, it ranges from 脂抜き (abura-nuki, no-fat), あっさり (assari, light), 普通 (futsuu, regular), こってり (kotteri, heavy), こてこて (kote-kote, very heavy). I ordered the heavy kotteri and kind of regretted it. The flavor of the broth is very rich and delicious, I bet the soup is actually quite refined if it didn't have the thick layer of fat floating on top.

The Noodles - are medium-thick curly noodles, cooked slightly firm. These noodles are a joy to eat, springy and chewy. These egg noodles are quite flavorful and matches well with the soup.

The Toppings - are many chunks of slow cooked tender pork that just melts in your mouth. Lots of green onions, menma bamboo and dried seaweed. They have raw garlic on the counter so you can add as much as you want, it went really well with the tonkotsu based soup.

Overall - I have never felt so guilty after eating an oily ramen like this, I recommend you try the soup "assari" with little fat on it. This ramen place isn't just a grease fest though, the soup had such a strong, rich flavor to it that even the oiliness couldn't hide it completely. I had to order the ramen with lots of "cha-cha" on it since "pork fat cha-cha" ramen is quite a major style in Tokyo, I did it for "acedemic" reasons.


At 4:48 PM, Blogger Jimmy said...

I have traveled all over Japan, and have been to many ramen-ya, and tried many, many different styles/flavors/types of ramen. I have to guiltily admit that the kote-kote at Nogata Hope is my absolute FAVORITE. I wish one would open up here in Hawaii ... although I may go broke by eating there everyday.


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