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Motenashi Kuroki

Review excerpt: Any season is ramen season. But when the heat builds and energy levels start to sag, is it really worth trekking across town and waiting in line for noodles that will only make you sweat even more? In the case of Motenashi Kuroki, most definitely yes.

Since it opened four years ago, word has spread fast about this friendly restaurant with 13 counter seats on the far side of Akihabara. It’s a brisk seven or eight-minute walk from the station, but that does not deter the aficionados who come to sup on chef Naohito Kuroki’s trademark shio (salt-based soup) or miso ramen.

As always, it’s all about the balance between the noodles, soup and toppings. The recipes for both soups are Kuroki’s own closely guarded secrets, but he will willingly admit they involve blends of salt (six kinds) and miso (three types), respectively.

He makes all his noodles in-house — in a space barely bigger than a broom closet — and they, too, are a blend of flours, all domestic, including a dash of whole wheat to add texture and bite. For the shio ramen, there are two choices: a lighter, more digestible fine-cut version, or a heartier flat version.

But it’s the toppings you notice above all. Kuroki simmers his chashu pork for two days, concentrating the umami rather than adding more salt or other seasonings. For the miso ramen he serves thick succulent cuts of chashu made with a totally different recipe.