★★★ こむらさき (Ko-Murasaki) - Shin Yokohama
Ko-Murasaki is a popular local Kumamoto ramen store that has been around for more than 50 years. In the early 90's Ko-Murasaki made its debut in the Kantou area by opening shop in the ramen museum in Shin Yokohama. I tried the first item on their menu 王様ラーメン (King ramen).
The Soup - is a tonkotsu based broth cooked with various vegetables and blended with a chicken based soup. The soup is void of the tonkotsu smell and has little oil, yet manages to maintain the rich flavor of tonkotsu. Compared to its Kyushu Hakata style ramen cousin, this soup seems much healthier. The soup is topped with a lot of freshly ground black pepper which didn't seem to compliment the soup that well.
The Noodles - are thin ramen noodles, slightly thicker than Hakata style ramen, cooked medium firm. Slightly springier than normal Kumamoto ramen, the flavor and texture seems to match the soup real well.
The Toppings - include tender, flavorful cha-shu pork, crunchy kikurage mushrooms and menma bamboo shoots, plus bean sprouts and diced spring onions; A unique topping that Ko-Murasaki has is the garlic chips, where thinly sliced garlic is carefuly raosted to bring out the aroma that gives this ramen its character. Where raw garlic might be too strong for this tonkotsu ramen, these garlic chips compliments it just right.
Overall - a Kumamoto style ramen with a few added twists on the aroma side. The garlic chips does give it a nice garlic aroma to it but Ko-Murasaki still doesn't compare to Natsuttei or Higomonzu as far as pure flavor of the soup and ramen.
I waited in line for Ko-Murasaki because it had the longest line, after waiting 40 minutes I wans't too dissapointed. But then I noticed that stores that had no lines an hour ago suddenly were lined up for 30 minute waits or more. It seems that the lines being formed were happening at random. So basically, check out all the ramen stores before you visit here and decide what region's ramen you want to try out.