We can easily establish two things about Tokyo: space is a luxury and food is magical. The problem occurs when you are hunting amazing food in this cramped city. Shops are on top of each other, in underground or on endless side streets. The best shops are normally hidden in the nooks and crannies. But! Lucky for us there are people who made it their quest to hunt them all down and tell us which ones are the crème de la crème.
Brian is one these people. He established his brand ‘ramen adventures’ and also wrote a book on it. He takes the taste buds to a nice ride. If you’re thinking just one ramen shop won’t do it, you’re right. He provides 3 different tours with 2 spots each. We went on a ramen-yakitori one and there are also ramen-ramen and ramen-izakaya.
On a Sunday, we found ourselves in Hatagaya neighbourhood following Brian in the quiet streets. After walking for a few minutes, we got in to an alley and reached Konjiki Hototogisu. If you find trouble finding this place, look for a long line of people waiting to get a taste. This secluded and tiny ramen shop is rated ‘Bib Gourmand’ by Michelin and it sits around 10 people around the counter. We were lucky that there were no line at that evening. Brian told us that for lunch waiting can be an hour and people are expected to slurp & leave. No time for chit-chat! After he showed us how to order from the ticketing machine, he explained the special broth of the shop. An easy person to talk to, Brian is also very generous about his knowledge of other yummy locations around Tokyo.
Our ramen has arrived and it reflects the minimalism of Japan. Soba (noodles) with few ingredients dipped into an amazing broth. I went for the salt-based soup with an egg on top as per Brian’s suggestion and it was DELICIOUS. I practiced my slurping as a way to compliment the chef and created a mess on my sweater as expected ^.^
Following the amazing ramen we dived further into Hatagaya’s streets and I was wondering why I never made it to this part of town. Not one but two hidden (to foreigners mostly haha) gems!! Next stop was another side-street shop: Miyazaki Shouten. It was as crowded and lively as a beehive. I was a little worried about this place because I’m personally very picky about yakitori (grilled meat in sticks). But then again, Brian knows his food and it was amazing as promised.
We had mushrooms and asparagus wrapped in bacon, cartilage, liver, numerous chicken parts but most differently we ate grilled stingray. All of them were phenomenal. Brian explained each meat because, as expected, menu is purely in Japanese. Also, I’m glad he ordered because I would’ve never order the adorable stingray. On top of the food, he suggested I try the apple highball and a type of yuzu sour where they freshly juice it. Needless to say, it was a festival for the taste buds.
Overall, the food tour was amazing. Brian is really a nice and talkative guy who has a black belt in the foodie universe who is not afraid to share it. He also gave me his blessings when I told him I will show off by taking my friends to these shops. I would recommend him highly! Thank you Tokyo by food for matching us <3
She is currently working in Tokyo after completing her Master’s degree in Niigata prefecture. She is Turkish who most of the time misses their local food but finds comfort in home-cooked Japanese dishes.