★ 蜂屋 (Hachiya) - Shin Yokohama
Hachiya is the second place I visited during my last trip to the Ramen Museum in Shin Yokohama. Hachiya is quite out of the ordinary, being a rare ramen that combines 焦がし (burnt flavor) with Asahikawa style ramen in one bowl. I gave this 蜂屋ラーメン (Hachiya ramen) a try.
The Soup - is a tonkotsu based soup blended with a seafood soup. It is also covered in the dark brown oil which gets its color from carefully burnt oil that also gives the soup a strong bitter smokey smell. The burnt oil is much stronger than any other burnt flavored ramen that I've tried, covering most of the subtle flavor of the blended soup.
The Noodles - are medium thin slightly curly noodles cooked to medium firmness. They needed ramen noodles with a strong presence to compete with this soup. If they had thicker noodles it might have matched up better.
The Toppings - are cha-shu pork, menma bamboo and sliced spring onions. The store recommends adding freshly ground raw garlic to the ramen, I tried it but it still didn't help subdue the strong bitter burnt taste.
Overall - it is safe to say that no other ramen shop will taste like Hachiya's ramen. The taste of the bitter burnt oil was a little too much, almost made me wonder if the chef made a mistake. But I always believed that ramen is about finding the one bowl of noodles that you personally like and not conforming to what is popular. I do hear that Hachiya has some die hard fans, just don't count me as one of them.
There are many other burnt flavored ramen places that I would strongly recommend: Nantsuttei, Go-gyou in Tokyo are both excellent while Chichi in Sapporo Hokkaido is pretty good too.