/

Kagari

Review excerpt: Tracking down tiny, one-counter restaurants in Tokyo’s narrow backstreets can often feel like the proverbial haystack needle-search. No such problem finding Kagari, even though it’s hidden away down a tiny unmarked alley. The giveaway is the perpetual line of people outside.

That’s only to be expected: ramen shops and queuing go together like rice and pickles, sake and sashimi, pizza and beer. So how do you know this is the right line to join? First, you’re in Ginza. Here among the flash department stores and brand-name boutiques, it’s not exactly common to see people braving the elements as they wait to eat. And then there’s the large sign above the door in Roman letters with the single word “Soba.” This is misleading: Kagari does not serve buckwheat soba noodles. But it is also the confirmation you are looking for. This is no ordinary ramen shop.

Kagari offers its hot noodles in two very contrasting styles. Ask for the tori-paitan soba and they are served in a thick soup the color and consistency of cream. As smooth and comforting as corn potage, it contains very finely diced onion to give a light texture along with the extra sweetness.

The alternative is the niboshi-shōyu soba, a dark, savory broth made from dried sardines and seasoned with soy sauce. As with the paitan, the noodles themselves are fine and delicate (in pasta terms, think spaghettini thickness).