Jyunteuchi Daruma (純手打ち だるま); The Protégé, Nakano Fujimicho
Within the last couple years, this portion of the Marunouchi line towards Hounancho has become a hot spot for up and coming ramen chefs to open their new restaurant. Newcomer Jyunteuchi Daruma has set his shop up at Nakano Fujimicho, a short 15 minute train ride from Shinjuku on the Marunouchi line, to much anticipation. The chef is a protégé from the famed Shokudo Shichisai brand that has spurned restaurants Menya Shichisai and Kujira Shokudo among others. The decor and style of the restaurant is a stark contrast from Shokudo Shichisai, but has a marked resemblance to the Menya Shichisai restaurant by Tokyo station. A very modern look, with a nice clean interior, Daruma is not your typical neighborhood, run down, ramen shop.
The flavor profile is quite different through (albeit few similarities), but has definitely lived up to the hype. Like the other shops originating from Shichisai, Daruma uses their infamous noodles that are kneaded upon order. The noodles have a high water content and are kneaded to give a unique texture unlike any other ramen restaurants. The texture allows for the soup to cling on to the noodles better than straight varieties and help hold the soup with every slurp. While preparing the noodles, the chef will begin heating his tender roast pork char siu and measure out each soup individually in a small pot. A regular bowl will also include green onions and bamboo shoots, with optional extra pork and marinated egg.
I opted to get the extra pork with egg and a side of roast pork over rice while my friend got the regular bowl with egg. The soup is a traditional Shoyu ramen with a very unique soy sauce blend. Not very dark, but not light as well. A great combination of the two to create a savory soup, but somehow with hints of sweetness. The broth is primarily chicken based and the residual chicken oils coat every noodle to give an incredibly well balanced flavor. The meat is tender, but still leave a bite. The extra pork was a bit of an overkill however so I would recommend just ordering their regular bowl and add the egg if you’re inclined. Throwback to traditional shoyu ramen, the noodles are quite soft, but pairs well with the shoyu soup. I was a bit taken back at first, but grew to love it with every bite.
The pork over rice was worth getting if you opt to not get the extra pork on your ramen. The sharpness of the green onions help cut through the fattiness of the pork and was the perfect compliment to the rice.
Having just opened earlier this summer, this definitely makes my top 5 new restaurants of 2018 list (coming soon). As almost every restaurant opened by ex-Shichisai employees have been met with high regards, the anticipation was incredible for Daruma. The fact that it has lived up to it and surpassed my expectations, I was completely blown away. Whether or not you’re a fan of the Shichisai brand, Daruma is definitely worth a visit.