★★ 神座 (Kamukura) - Tokyo
Kamukura claims to be Osaka's most popular ramen. Having established itself in Dotonburi, Osaka's most popular shopping district, Kamukura has expanded to a dozen stores in the Kansai area before starting two stores in Tokyo. I visited their store in Shinjuku's Kabuki district. Kamukura's store front looks more like a fashion boutique than a ramen store, but as I'll find out later, their decor wasn't the only thing out of the ordinary. I tried their most popular menu item 小チャーシュー煮卵ねぎラーメン (cha-shu pork, boiled egg ramen).
The Soup - is a surprisngly light, slightly sweet pork and vegetable broth. Since the latest trend in Japanese ramen seems to be heavier with more oil, a soup that relies more on vegetables for the flavoring really stands out. However, the soup does taste quite thin, almost feels watered down compared to other ramen. They have a lot of toppings available on the counter that you can add as much as you want, after adding the soy sauce flavored nira (leek) the soup tasted more complete. I also tried some garlic, but it didn't match well with the soup at all.
The Noodles - are slightly thin curly noodles cooked a little on the soft side. These noodles are springy and light, not the type of noodles that I like but seem to match the light soup just right.
The Toppings - are lightly seasoned cha-shu pork, lot's of boiled napa cabbage, and a flavored boiled egg. With all the napa cabbage I felt like I was eating a Japanese hot-pot dish, like shabu-shabu or something. Napa cabbage and ramen just don't seem to mix that well. The cha-shu pork was tender and had decent flavor.
Overall - a light and healthy ramen that doesn't really provide the "ramen" experience but you feel a lot less guilty afterward eating it. This ramen seems to be about the soup and the mixure of toppings that you can add such as leeks, garlic, flavored bean sprouts to add variety to the flavor of the soup. Try it if you are in Shinjuku and Shibuya and want a change of pace from the normal ramen, otherwise I'd recommend you try another place that offers a more standard ramen experience.
Shinjuku store - http://www.kamukura.co.jp/store/shinjyuku.html
Shibuya store - http://www.kamukura.co.jp/store/shibuya.html