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Men Labo Hiro: Balanced ramen from a yakitori chef

by

Contributing Writer

Men Labo Hiro is far from your standard noodle counter. Squeaky clean both inside and out, with spacious tables by the door and enough room to squeeze in even a stroller or two, it feels more like a family restaurant than the type of place to excite the hardcore ramen fraternity.

But when your bowl arrives, you understand why it’s been drawing cognoscenti since it opened just over a year ago. The long, white noodles are bathed in a clear, golden chicken broth. Three slices of meat float on the surface. One is chāshū pork, another is pale, white chicken breast and the third is rich, fatty duck meat, with colorful garnishes of the herb mitsuba (trefoil), blanched onion and shreds of fragrant yuzu peel.

What underlies this masterful bowl, so light, well-balanced and satisfying? The story is that the owner used to work at Masakichi, a yakitori restaurant in Musashi Koyama, where noodles were served at the end of the meal.

Not only did he bring his recipe with him — offering shoyu and shio (salt) versions and excellent tsukemen (dipping noodles) besides — he also offers occasional yakitori specials.

And, just in case you’re craving some decadence with your noodles, there is also a premium version topped with duck foie gras. That alone makes the pilgrimage to residential Gohongi well worth the effort.

Noodles from ¥900