Miso Ramen Kakitagawa Hibari is one of the best for ramen in Ebisu, Tokyo. They serve spectacular miso ramen and tsukemen (dipping ramen).
Kakitagawa Hibari - Miso Ramen Lineage
The owner at Kakitagawa Hibari (味噌らーめん 柿田川ひばり 恵比寿本店) trained at Tokyo miso ramen bastion Do Miso. Tsugani, also located in the Ebisu area, comes from the Do Miso family tree.
Do Miso does miso ramen with a lot of seabura (pork back fat). This gives the soup extra sweetness and heftiness. In Hibari's miso ramen, this signature pork back fat is clearly visible. But the soup feels more fine-tuned and less messy than Do Miso's version.
In other words, Hibari has taken a more refined approach to its miso ramen. This approach matches an elegant interior. They even play relaxing piano music.
Furthermore, there's no smell inside. At Do Miso, this is the first thing you notice - an intense porky smell.
The Miso Ramen
Five types of miso light the way, providing sparkle in an otherwise heavy soup. The five types include Hatcho and Edoama miso.
Besides the pork back fat, the soup is chicken bones, pork bones, and fish (mackerel and bonito flakes from Shizuoka, other dried fish).
Sesame oil and peanut oil give the soup a gentle nuttiness and offset some of the more greasy elements. For toppings, there's corn, bean sprouts, garlic chives, soft chashu pork, and an egg (if you add it).
All in all, this is a well-balanced miso ramen that looks heavier than it really is. The thick, wavy noodles are produced by famous manufacturer Asakusa Kaikaro.
The Tsukemen (Dipping Ramen)
Hibari serves miso tsukemen (dipping ramen) too. It's simply a different experience. First of all, the noodles are resting in kombusui (water and kelp). It gives the noodles a slimy texture and delicate flavor.
They recommend that you initially have the noodles with a pinch of sea salt (provided on a small plate). Doing this allows you to better appreciate the subtle flavors of the kombusui and the texture of the noodles.
Once this is done, dip the noodles into the miso soup. The same powerful flavors are there, whether the saltiness from the miso or the greasiness from the pork back fat. But these soup flavors are a bit more concentrated (compared to the ramen soup).
The toppings are similar. There's no corn but there's both chicken and pork chashu (not just pork). Furthermore, there's a bit of kabosu citrus that helps slice through the rich soup. Between the two, I'm actually more into the tsukemen.
Ask for "soup wari" at the end to drink up any remaining soup.
The Soupless Ramen
Their Aemen (soupless ramen) packs a rich punch. The pork back fat congregates in the top left corner and makes sure the thick sauce sticks to the thick noodles.
The miso is less pronounced and it's expedtedly greasier than the other ramen dishes. But the raw onions and slice of lime help neutralize the greasiness. What's perhaps most noticable among toppings are the huge slabs of pork. They're as tasty as they look.
Miso Ramen Kakitagawa Hibari is one of Tokyo's finest miso ramen shops. They might even be an example of the student (Hibari) surpassing the mater (Do Miso).
Besides the miso ramen and miso tsukemen, they serve spicy miso ramen, cold miso ramen, and soupless miso ramen. I'm sure they're just as carefully prepared and tasty.