When one thinks of Harukiya, one may automatically think Ogikubo--the birthplace of Tokyo Ramen. But to a true ramen geek, the difference lies in a single character, 家 vs 屋. So as Nate once did, I've decided to tackle both in an hour span (can't believe it's already been a year): Harukiya Honten (春木家本店) versus Harukiya Ogikubo Honten (春木屋荻窪本店).
By far the less popular of the two, Harukiya Honten (家) has been around a lot longer. 18 years to be exact. Established in 1931, this third-generation family-owned business is also much more than just a ramen shop. But of course, ramen is the main dish.
Plain and simple, this nostalgic shoyu ramen is a forgotten breed. A little lighter than most chuuka soba, I noticed the presence of chicken and almost no fish in the broth. The funny thing is, this soup is made with pork bones and niboshi only. The niboshi is just barely noticeable and the presence of chicken must come from the thin layer of oil.
The noodles are pretty standard for chuuka soba, slightly thick and wavy.
Overall a good bowl, but it will take nostalgia to make it great.
Not too far away (and as you can see the more popular), Harukiya Ogikubo Honten (屋) has been mastering the Tokyo ramen scene since 1949. Surely there is a lineage to Harukiya Honten (家), but that relationship has long been forgotten. There is a certain aura of history and greatness when you walk into this shop.
Being right smack in front of the action helps too. There used to be a time when taking pictures wasn't allowed. I'm not sure if that's still the case, but I didn't see any signs and I hadn't had any problems on previous visits so I just kept doing what I always do.
Upon first slurp, I immediately noticed that niboshi was more prevalent in this bowl. It's also a lot stronger with a distinct shoyu flavor. The added impact must also contribute to why this shop is more popular.
The noodles are a tad thicker and have a bit more bite. I definitely prefer these over the other.
I may agree with the masses and find myself slurping at Harukiya Ogikubo Honten (屋) more often, but when you think about it there really is no comparison. Each is it's own and each is not worried about making it a competition. Everyone just seems to live happy and slurp happy. That's good enough for me.
Now it's time to make things right...