Every trip to Japan is kind of a mini ramen pilgrimage for Ms. Buddha and I. When I say Ms. Buddha and I, it’s more me being fortunate enough to have a partner who will put up with waiting in line for hours for a bowl of ramen, and on our recent “pilgrimage” – we went for one of the highest rated ramen in Japan – Itto Ramen (一燈) – located in Tokyo.
Ramen in Japan is a religion, and reviews and rankings means A LOT to the local population and also the store owners themselves because it can mean make or break! And because Itto is rated as the No.1 ramen shop – having “made it”, we expected a line to begin with so we arrived at the store a little after the shop was opened and there was a line already.
The process that Itto works on is when you arrive, you are allowed into the store to buy your order tickets (similar to other ramen places), post that, you give the ticket to the staff so that they can prepare the queue of food – you then go outside to continue your wait – reading materials are posted on the walls including advice on how to be a decent human being 🙂
We waited for about 45 minutes before we got to the front of the queue (which is apparently quite reasonable) – by then, the queue had stretched to the other side of the road. You’re also treated with a view of the kitchen when you’re close.
Because it was so cold and wet the day we visited, the refuge of shelter was incredibly pleasant when we were welcomed inside – the staff were super polite and nice. Orders were already placed so Ms. Buddha and I played around with the “history book”.
Because the chef knows your order before you enter, the food actually comes quite quickly – the presentation with Tsukemen is normally quite pretty in my opinion (very neat and tidy).
First off, the soup base is quite exceptional in the sense that it is packed with natural flavour from the ingredients – in addition to that, the broth has layers of “tastes” to it such that the initial punch, the middle and the aftertaste all have their own characteristics – in terms of soup, Itto’s one is excellent.
Now onto the actual noodles and meat – there’s different cuts of meat to accompany the ramen and both Ms. Buddha and I think that in terms of how each ingredient is prepared – each was done as well as they can be individually.
Finally, in terms of the noodles themselves, I have to say that the texture and the consistency of the noodles were one of the best I’ve ever tasted. The texture was firm but complimented the soup to perfection.
To finish, you mix some hot broth to dilute the remaining soup – needless to say, I made sure I finished every last bit.
Feeling very satisfied, Ms. Buddha and I walked out still enjoying the warmth of the soup as we braved the cold and rain back to the carpark. In the car, our discussion revolved around how good the bowl was. Although both Ms. Buddha and I aren’t Tsukemen “fans” – we both agreed that this was probably one of the best Tsukemen in Japan you can get.