Ramen at Kikanbou  (カラシビ味噌らー麺 鬼金棒)

Ramen at Kikanbou (カラシビ味噌らー麺 鬼金棒)

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Recommended bowl: Wicked spicy miso

This shop's concept hits hard. Kikanbou means 'spiked bat' in Japanese. More specifically, it refers to the truncheon-like weapon that Oni (demons and ogres) wield in traditional Japanese folklore. The shop's exterior features paintings of menacing Oni brandishing their kikanbou. Inside, the pounding of Japanese taiko drums pumps through the sound system on endless repeat. Oni masks line the walls. The master, Miura-san, has created a fearsome ramen experience that delivers on all levels.

The soup here is a mix of miso and tonkotsu – rich, creamy and fatty. The standard toppings include a big chunk of juicy chashu, a drizzle of blackened garlic oil and heaps of chili and peppercorns. Explosive flavors. Be prepared to sweat.

When you order, the staff will ask you to indicate your spice preferences: how much chili (the 'kara' rating) and the amount of mouth-numbing sansho, or Szechuan peppercorns (the 'shibi' rating). First-timers are recommended to go 'regular' on both (just say: 'futsu-futsu').

Each bowl comes with three varieties of noodles, of varying width, which is fairly rare in the Tokyo ramen world. The chilies and peppercorns employed at Kikanbou are typically associated with Szechuan Chinese cooking, but despite the heat, they're harmonized beautifully with the Japanese miso-tonkotsu soup.

Kikanbou debuted in 2009 and has gotten a lot of local press. There's almost always a line several heads deep. If you'd rather not wait, there's a spinoff Kikanbou shop located just 50 feet down the same street. The menu is exactly the same, but all of the dishes are tsukemen instead of ramen. In 2014, Kikanbou opened a second shop in Ikebukaro.

9 / 10