Yesterday Shinjuku saw its first snowfall of the year. There have been cold winds cutting through the city and so the only course of action was to heat it up with some spicy ramen! Nestled amongst a small group of ramen shops (all delicious!) is the Nishishinjuku branch of Nantsuttei, this branch known as Misoya Hachiro Shoten. Step inside and buy your tickets from the vending machine.
On the left you can see the variety of instant ramen you can buy and bring home!
Micah and I both decided on the Spicy Miso Ramen and one small bowl of rice. We handed our tickets to the chef and were asked how many noodles we'd like. We had the option of futsu (regular or normal amount) or oomori (extra noodles!) We were then asked how spicy we'd like our ramen. Nantsuttei has four choices, in increasing spiciness: Standard, Choikara, Chukara, and Gekikara. Micah and I have eaten at Nantsuttei several times, Micah always gets Gekikara (the spiciest option). I've tried Chukara and Choikara. The first time I tried Chukara it was too spicy for me to finish, so I usually go with Choikara, though it's not quite spicy enough for me. Once more, Micah went with Gekikara and I asked for Choikara.
The spiciness chart
Nantsuttei's translation of the chart is as follows:
Want a nose-bleeding, hotter flavor? We offer you four levels of hotness as follows.
[For customers who plan to order Extremely hot]
Please refrain from ordering it if you have heart trouble, feel ill, or have a sensitive stomach. Please note that your social status will not be raised if you eat Extremely hot. If you are brave enough to challenge yourself in private, please try Extremely hot.
One chef, doing his thing
Seating at Nantsuttei is all bar seating, with a capacity of about 12 people. So it's not the best place to go to with a large group, but for a few people, it should be fine. When we arrived around 9:30pm on a Wednesday night and the shop was nearly full with only two non-adjacent seats open. However, a chef quietly asked two customers if they'd scoot over by a seat to open up two adjacent seats for Micah and I. About 10 minutes after we placed our orders our ramen was ready! However, when the chef handed me my ramen, she said "Chukara", which leads me to think my order had been misheard. I screwed my courage to the sticking place to brave the unconquerable ramen.
The chukara ramen!
Micah's gekikara ramen!
Both bowls have the same toppings and noodle-style but the only difference is the level of spiciness. The ramen comes with a healthy topping of moyashi (bean sprouts), negi (spring onion), chopped cabbage, two slices of chashu (barbecued pork slices), spicy oil, ground pork and black pepper. In addition to the black pepper, hot spice and garlic oil are also used. Noodles are thicker than average though still the perfect balance between soft and firm.
The gekikara ramen is SPICY! I am a fan of spicy food and I can only handle a few spoonfuls of broth! As Micah puts it, the ramen is immediately spicy and continues to build from there. Drinking the broth by itself is incredibly spicy. The ramen is piled with moyashi (bean sprouts) which provides a brief reprieve from the spicy broth.
Champion of epic spiciness, Micah enjoys his ramen
With trepidation I faced my chukara ramen. With the spiciness level so high, I could not follow my usual method of enjoying ramen. I usually start off with tasting the broth, usually a couple spoonfuls. Then I move on to the noodles. Unable to dive immediately into the spiciness, I first sampled the noodles. Due to the thickness of the noodles, they had a more noticeable flavor than thinner noodles. The taste is great and the noodles soak up just the right amount of the broth. I made sure to take enough breaks via the moyashi and chopped cabbage to keep up with the ramen. As a fan of spiciness and miso, I am very much in love with this broth. It's a bit of a challenge to drink the broth by itself, but in combination with the noodles, it's pretty great!
It's spicy but fun!
Micah and I ate as much as we could but both of us were unable to finish our broth as it was just so spicy! By the time I finished my ramen and Micah had finished his ramen and rice, we were stuffed to capacity! I'd like to note that the jump between chukara and gekikara is huge! While I was able to finish nearly my entire bowl of chukara, I know that I would not be able to get past a third of the bowl of gekikara. Its spiciness just builds and builds and builds! The chukara had some tears running down my face near the end, but was still delicious and bearable. I definitely would not recommend anything higher than "Standard" for anyone who isn't confident in their ability to handle spicy food!
The chukara is on the left and the gekikara is on the right, check out how much redder the gekikara is!
Are you ready to challenge the spicy ramen of Nantsuttei: Misoya Hachiro Shoten? If you like miso and spiciness, Nantsuttei is sure to satisfy!
102, Plaza Nishishinjuku Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
TEL 03-6304-0420 FAX 03-6304-0421