Menba Hamatora (麺場浜虎) serves up several varieties of ramen at this hidden gem of a ramen shop just north of Yokohama station.
Hamatora tries to set itself apart from your average shop, and a noticeable construction site-esque vibe certainly hammers this home. It starts outside with the metal mesh signage, before revealing a hip post-industrial decor inside (complete with scaffolding pipes). The staff shuffle around in their rugged Dickies overalls, all set to a breakbeat backing track.
Hamatora serves shoyu (soy sauce) and shio (salt) ramen as their standard bowl, with several varieties available for each. I went for the Koku Shoyu Soba (¥760). On the ticket machine, this actually sits next to a black bean natto variety which you might want to not order by mistake.
The 'koku' variety is a supercharged, rich double soup blend (including several soy sauces and seafood) with added toripaitan (chicken soup) for good measure. Add to that a shoyu blend tare and a dried sardine-infused flavouring oil. It's loaded with spring onion, menma bamboo shoots, peppered chicken char siu and grilled/kogashi onion too. Noodles are medium-thickness, springy and curly – handmade daily. Overall it's great stuff, and a potent bowl full of flavour.
Their salt ramen uses a chicken soup base instead, and seemed to be as equally popular. As well as the unique atmosphere inside, they serve an interesting mix of jasmine and oolong tea. It reminded me of Ippudou's rooibos tea and is pretty good – better than what you'd get anywhere else.
Mendou Hamatora is about a 5 minute walk north of Yokohama station – take the north-west exit.
The Hamatora name is an interesting one, chosen to represent their vision to make their Yokohama ramen a permanent fixture on the food landscape. It also references the Hama-tora (Yokohama traditional) fashion style linked to the Motomachi area, and is also the name of a manga series set in Yokohama.