You may think that headline is an exaggeration, but it's not. The first time we went, we arrived at 11:50, even though it opened at noon. We happened to be in the neighborhood and wanted lunch. We weren't in a rush. We also weren't the first people to show up. When Hinoki opened their doors at noon, we discovered that there were maybe 12 tables total, four of which were immediately filled.
Most ramen spots in Europe have the same menu offerings: three variations each of shoyu, tonkotsu, and miso ramens, with a couple vegetarian options and specials. When I visited the states earlier this year, the offerings were either limited to two or three types of ramen, or a smattering of unique takes and twists on ramen.
Regardless, I have always been happy with my options, especially at Hinoki.
Debating between the tonkotsu black special and the Tokyo traditional, I decided to go with the black garlic ramen. It was the most popular option according to the chalk board, and for good reason. When "garlic" is in the name of any dish, my concern is that the garlic will overpower the rest of the ingredients - that was not the case here. It was a great addition to the perfectly balanced broth. And for some reason, I really noticed the corn in this one. It brightened the ramen with a refreshing sweetness I don't often find in the dense noodle soup.
The Tan Tan Men came in an unusually large bowl with an unusually large spoon. Please note the side-by-side comparison of images here:
If you are at all hesitant about spicy foods, I would not recommend ordering this. I wasn't in pain, but it cleared my sinuses (which was exactly what I needed). The spice level walked that fine line between discomfort and pleasure. And this time it was the bok choy that freshened up this dish. Maybe I just have faint childhood memories of soggy bok choy, but I've been really digging it in my ramen lately. Also, for those with peanut allergies, the Tan Tan Men may have had peanut oil in it. According to their allergy list, they note peanuts in the Tan Tan Men and any miso-based ramen.
If you have nowhere to be except sitting and eating ramen, stop by Hinoki and enjoy a delicious bowl!
Hinoki Rotterdam (they do not take reservations - you'll need to just wait outside patiently), Keizerstraat 52, 3011 GH, Rotterdam, +31 10 4133585