Thursday, January 26, 2012

Kirimachi Part II, Tonkotsu Ramen

Tonkotsu ramen with optional corn at Kirimachi
When I reported on the Sapporo-style miso ramen at Kirimachi recently, I promised to return soon to check out the other half of the establishment's two-item ramen menu, tonkotsu ramen. Kirimachi means "Fog City" and TA DA! the fog horns sent me its way today.

Tonkotsu broth, as every ramen nut knows, is made from simmering pork bones.  Pork bone broth has a special place in my soup firmament, since pork neck bone stock is the first choice in soup stocks of my Shanghainese wife, though hers is rendered with a gentler alchemy than  typical tonkotsu mavens would endorse.  Kirimachi's tonkotsu bowl comes with the same set of toppings as their Sapporo miso ramen; I added corn as an extra simply because it had been a long time since I'd eaten corn in any recognizable form. The corn played nicely with the broth and other ingredients (though I'm kicking myself because I hadn't thought off adding it to the chicken-based miso stock on my first visit).  I'm happy to say that Kirimachi's tonkotsu broth, like their miso broth, leans toward deftness and subtlety, demonstrating that a tonkotsu broth needn't be as muddy and yellowish as a river in Shaanxi (are you listening, Ajisen?).

I have to confess that at first sip I thought Kirimachi's broth perhaps too subtle until, halfway through the bowl, I realize I had made the mistake of not stirring the soup. (In my defense, there's something about the careful arrangement of toppings in a bowl of ramen than makes stirring counter-intuitive.)  In any event, the broth intensified in richness and saltiness as I got closer to the bottom of the bowl, and the analog computer in my taste buds calculated that averaging my first slurps with my last would put something just about right on the bottom line.

But I'll have to go back again and stir to be sure.

Where slurped: Kirimachi, 450 Broadway, North Beach, SF.

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