On the quiet backstreets of Nishi-azabu is this gem of a noodle shop, Gogyo, mixing things up relative to any other ramen experience you may know. Their specialty: kogashi, or burned, ramen.
As soon as you step inside Gogyo, you'll know you're in for a unique experience. The whole setup resembles a laidback, easy-going cafe for young hipsters, with its spacious and comfortable yet elegant interior and dark wooden share tables – I kind of wanted to pull out my laptop and connect to Wi-Fi and order a latte, but I was here for one thing – Kogashi Miso Ramen.
Black is back
The burnt kogashi effect comes from heating the soy sauce or miso in lard up to 300°C – generating an abundance of orange flames and a smoky kitchen in the process! The result is a thick, dark-hued soup with an incredibly deep, rich flavour and smoky, chargrilled notes. Honestly, it's really hard not to feel compelled to finish the soup—it is that good—but the rest of the menu is just as appealing too.
You can order several kinds of ramen here: soy sauce (kogashi), miso (kogashi), shio/salt, tonkotsu (all ¥880 each) and tsukemen (¥900). Pretty much any topping is available for a small additional fee: soft-boiled egg, nori, green onions, bean sprouts, extra char siu pork etc. With the exception of tsukemen, you can even request larger portions of noodles for no extra charge.
During the day, the lunch set option provides extra value too, throwing in rice and gyoza for a few extra yen. I found the gyoza to be some of the best I've ever had, and the addition of yuzukoshō (yuzu/chilli pepper sauce) is the perfect accompaniment.
The parent company, Ippudo, runs several other branches of this exclusive chain – including one in Kyoto as well as Nagoya. Bringing their Hakata Ippudo Ramen know-how into the fold, you know you're in good hands with Gogyo and these other branches are also definitely worth checking out if you can't get down to Nishi-Azabu anytime soon.
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