For ramen around Ochiai station, Chukasoba Chigonoki (中華そば 児ノ木) triumphs. This hidden gem is one of my favorite ramen shops in Tokyo!
Ochiai Ramen – Pure Niboshi
Chigonoki is all about niboshi (dried sardines). In their 100% niboshi ramen, they use 100 grams of “katakuchi” niboshi. This extra fresh niboshi type is found by coastal areas and is always in high demand.
The concentrated niboshi flavor in the broth is bitter and salty (from the soy sauce seasoning). While this flavor is aggressive, there’s still a refined quality to it. Quietly harnessing the power of niboshi, this broth is a similar to what you’ll get at places like Chukasoba Ichikawa.
The chopped white onions cut through the niboshi broth like a sharp blade. The thinly sliced, low-temp cooked chicken and pork chashu are incredible too.
But if it sounds a bit too fishy, you’ll definitely enjoy the 2 ramen below!
Niboshi + Pork Bone Ramen
In their “seabura niboshi” ramen, Chigonoki is mirroring a ramen style from Niigata prefecture (up North). They more than do it justice.
It’s a pork bone and niboshi broth, captained by the same salty shoyu (soy sauce) seasoning. There’s definitely a less intense fish flavor, since they’re only using 65 grams of niboshi.
The broth also has a good amount of pork back fat (seabura) floating about. But they don’t go overboard with it. The flavor and texture of pork back fat is actually quite sweet and smooth. It doesn’t doesn’t go down as heavily as you’d think.
The toppings are similar to the first bowl. But the noodles are much thicker. I love these thick noodles – they’re put to good use again in the below bowl.
Soupless Ramen with Mayo??
The third ramen they serve is soupless (maze soba). It comes with a massive jug of mayonnaise on the side. It’s wonderfully rich to begin with, with pork lard clinging to the same thick noodles.
There are only faint traces of the fish flavor here. The soy sauce seasoning pokes its head out from time to time too.
But now that mayo – it works surprisingly well! It adds a new dimension of richness. Mayonnaise is a fairly common condiment at soupless ramen restaurants.
But at Chigonoki, it stands in stark contrast to the classic interior of the ramen shop.
As mentioned, Chukasoba Chigonoki carries a fun vintage vibe. It looks like more like a soba shop than a modern bowl serving ramen shop. They’re only open for lunch on weekdays. Chigonoki is THE spot for Ochiai ramen.