The ticket machine at the door to Hayashi looks more like a Zen riddle than a method of ordering noodles.
The columns and rows of buttons stand empty and blank, mocking all illusion of choice: egg or no egg; standard or extra grilled pork (options that are often sold out anyway). Regardless, only one kind of ramen is served here. Accept it or leave.
The path to enlightenment is never fast. The line outside is rarely less than 30 minutes long. Once seated, prepare to meditate some more: There is little to look at and nothing to hear but the muffled sound of satisfied slurping. The bowl, when it arrives, is always worth the wait.
The toppings are standard: nori seaweed; strips of menma (bamboo shoot); slices of pork; chopped scallions; plus a sliver of lemon, more for color than the minimal citrus tang it provides.
It’s the soup that is extraordinary. Thick and comforting, rich but never too unctuous, it is surprisingly subtle, blending the flavors of pork and chicken with an underlying seafood umami.
The long, smooth noodles slip down without resistance. It is a sublime bowl, and you are likely to drain it to the last drop. And before you know it you are out on the street again, satiated but already planning your next pilgrimage.
Open 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. (or until sold out); Japanese menu; English not spoken
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5