The time has come for me to share my favorite restaurant in Tokyo.
Behold, Ginza Kagari!! 銀座 篝!
I found this place on my walk back from work. I often saw a line sticking out of an alley on my walk back. This is a little strange in this area, because Kagari is located next to some very large stores (such as Apple, designer brands, some hotels, etc). Above the entrance is a white flag over the small traditional style entrance opening, and above that is a boring sign that reads ‘Soba’ only. I was mislead–these aren’t the ‘soba’ buckwheat noodles, but the ramen noodles that are sometimes referred to their Chinese name, ‘Soba’, which is a little confusing, ね？.
I was always curious, because there is always a huge line out front! How good could it be?!
One day, my boyfriend and I were looking for a place to eat, and I decided why not try that mysterious little restaurant! Since it was a little rainy that day, and we both finish work late, it was close to closing time ～9:30, and there were only 3 people ahead of us.
A worker came out and handed us a simple laminated menu. Basically you can get tsukemen (noodles you dip in sauce) or ramen (noodles in the soup already). You can order extras such as extra meat, soy flavored eggs, bamboo shoots from Kyoto, fried garlic and more as well. We ordered Tsukemen!
“Sumimasen!” I said, as I tried to get past the woman eating ramen on the corner seat. She tried to move her seat forward with an annoyed look, but there was nothing she could do because there just wasn’t enough room.
I was slighly embarrassed as everyone watched me suck in my belly and stretch my torso upwards to pass behind the woman! But Yuuki had to do the same, even lift his backpack up.
Although it was very small, it felt homely, as if I was eating in a friends kitchen. Soon enough, the party of three that entered before us had the red glowing face of after work beer-filled content
I looked over the counter and saw the whitish ramen soup being beautifully assembled, shimmering in the light, for the salary men.
I regretted not ordering the ramen!
But this thought was quickly changed when our bowls of thick tori paitan tsuke soba arrived.
Inside the restaurant are only 8 seats shaped in a U around the counter.
The soup is a thick sardine flavored broth flavored with soy sauce, brewed for hours until perfection. The noodles were the perfect size for my liking as well. I happily dunked my noodles in a slurped to my delight. My eyes shut and my mouth salivated even more–this was the best food I’ve had so far in Tokyo. Yuuki ordered the largest size as always, and his came with a small tray of other extra assortments. I grabbed his arm and said, “This is amazing. I think we should come here more often.”
The next weekend, impressed with such beautiful flavor, I decided I wanted to try more superb restaurants in Tokyo. I looked up some places in Ginza, close to my apartment. What do you know–a delicious looking ramen shop came. I was attracted to the store and enticed by the descriptions, when I showed Yuuki the photos, he said, “isn’t that the same place we went to last time?” I hadn’t known the name of the restaurant then, I only knew it as that little store that had a white and black ‘Soba’ sign in an alley in Ginza! It turns out this website was referring to Kagari’s sister branch in the Ginza underground station! Amazing! Since it had great reviews, and since the tsukemen was outstanding, we decided to go and try to Ramen this time, at the branch in the underground station.
We waited in a short line again, (luckily we made it before dinner time! 10 minutes later and the line was over 10 people long) and ordered the chicken based ramen, tori paitan soba
Words can’t describe this ramen. It was a perfect combination of flavors. I loved the rich creaminess of the broth. I had to ask them how they made it so creamy, and after some laughs about it being “Top secret/made with love!” They confessed they add a bit of fresh cream to it. The ramen is pork-free, unlike the Tsukemen which uses some pork broth for flavor. The after taste of citrus on the chicken was the perfect kick. I ordered a side dish of Seasonal Vegetables to spoil myself. A tiny portion, but full of beautiful color. I am a big fan of creamy lemony chicken, and the ramen was better than anything I could have imagined. Again, the simmer the broth with real chicken bones until it reaches perfection. Every bite was bliss. I told Yuuki I had a new favorite restaurant.
I’m trying not to go every day now. But god I wish my metabolism would let me!