Tokyo clam ramen has become a bigger deal the last few years! Recently, ramen shop Kokaku has made a huge, sea-like splash. They extract the flavors from 80 clams for each ramen bowl they serve.
Kohaku and a Big Splash Effect
The ramen shop in question is Kokaku, or Shinjiko Shijimi Chuukasoba Kohaku (宍道湖しじみ中華蕎麦 琥珀). They were named the best new 2020 ramen shop by Ramen magazine Ramen Walker. They're also part of Michelin's Bib Gourmand List. But even before this, Kohaku had lines out the door.
The owner at Kohaku got his start at Mendokoro Shinohara, another ramen shop that impressively showcases clams. But unlike that shop, they only use shijimi clams here. They use 80 of them in each bowl!
After scouring the country, the owner decided on shijimi clams from Lake Shinjiko in Shimane prefecture (West Japan). This is a brackish water lake, and these freshwater clams therefore pack some salinity.
Tokyo Clam Ramen Like No Other
Kohaku serves shio (salt) and shoyu (soy sauce) seasoned clam ramen. Their shio ramen is most popular. The shio seasoning is gentle and airy, quietly awakening that 80 clam-strong army.
Shio Chuukasoba with Egg
But even with so many clams in the broth, the clam flavor is polite and it doesn’t take over the bowl. This is similar to the experience at ramen shop Shinka. There, a similarly delicate shio seasoning holds up a beautiful chicken bone broth.
Back to this clam ramen – there’s also chicken bones in the broth, providing balance and richness. As to toppings, chopped red onions and dill add pop and pizazz. The chashu pork is of great quality and fairly modern.
I have yet to try the shoyu (soy sauce) ramen here. When you order the shoyu, you can choose your noodles. This would be the same thin noodles or thicker, hand-massaged noodles.
Expect a wait at Kohaku – the living room-like interior is tiny. They’re also massively popular now, drawing people from around the country. Super friendly staff will make the wait more manageable.