Bokkoshi: Umami-rich ramen that defies expectations

by J.J. O'Donoghue

Special To The Japan Times

The house special at Bokkoshi is a little confusing — but, that’s a good thing. Called Niwatorisayu, this version of chicken-based ramen is served in a tall, deep black bowl and looks extremely creamy. In fact, the broth looks so creamy that it could almost pass for clam chowder or thick chicken soup. Preparing to take your first sip, you’re expecting a rich, velvety taste. But it never comes.

Bokkoshi’s Niwatorisayu is unexpected, with a dissonance between taste and appearance unlike any other bowl of ramen I’ve had before. What you are left with is an umami-rich yet light broth with hints of creaminess. The soup is filled with slices of tender chicken breast, bamboo shoots and spools of thick, firm noodles.

After my second sip I have to ask the server: What is in this broth?

The staff at Bokkoshi are down to Earth and well used to this question. My server reaches over the counter and produces a small plastic container filled with paper thin dried chicken flakes. They’re almost tasteless, but, after a long boiling period, imbue the broth with a deep umami and oiliness — and a cloudiness that turns each bowl creamy white. Though I wouldn’t make too many repeat visits for this novelty, Bokkoshi is worth investigating if you enjoy unusual ramen.

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