A small mountain of niboshi. Vats of tare and steaming soup stock. A deshi prepares a batch of orders under the watchful eye and guidance of the tenchō. We’re in Ogikubo, the birthplace of fish and shoyu-based Tokyo style ramen. Though Harukiya is generally regarded as the exemplar for old school Tokyo ramen, on this visit to the neighborhood I opted to try the updated take served up at Futaba (二葉). The kitchen is oriented perpendicular to the front wall, so this teriffic mess is the first thing you see upon entering.
NB: Though the shop is the same operation as in Brian MacDucktson’s 2011 review, it has changed to a slightly different location. Google Maps has the new point, but has not yet removed the old one, so double check that you’re headed to 上荻１丁目１６−１４ and not 天沼３丁目２６−１４.
The JR Chūō Line, JR Chūō-Sōbu Line and Toyko Metro Marunouchi Line will all get you to Ogikubo Station. In case you’re planning to head out of town, Ogikubo has a Midori no Madoguchi (みどりの窓口), a ticket office found at large and medium sized JR stations where you can reserve tickets for any train operated by a JR Group company up to a month in advance.
We’re getting further away from the inner wards of Tokyo. Density begins to decrease, giving train stations and the business districts built around them greater roles as anchors of civic space. Futaba isn’t directly next to the station, but still within the radius of this built up area.
Gloomy weather makes for some not really great looking photos, though it’s perfect for a bowl of ramen.
A purist’s Tokyo style would probably feature a dark and clear broth, medium weight and slightly curly noodles, a couple of pieces of chashu, menma, a sprinkling of green onions, and nothing else. Futaba goes for maximum impact with chopped yellow onion, plenty of minced fatback, and really thick and unevenly cut noodles that make me think of dao xiao mian, all sitting in an intense dried sardine-based soup. Serving sizes are generous, so come hungry.
In my exploratory photowalks for The Tokyo Project, I’m usually out on my feet for 12 to 16 hours a day. No doubt more than enough activity to offset two or three bowls in the same time period—is what I tell myself as I gingerly roll out the door after each salt, fat and carbohydrate bomb. Back to work!
This post is part of The Tokyo Project, Volume 2. Click here to go to the introduction and table of contents.