Mention Japan, and ramen often comes to mind. Among international visitors, there are probably many who are anticipating a bowl of these delicious noodles on their next trip here.
However, the kinds of ramen found at Japan's popular sightseeing spots are rather limited in terms of variety.
Every part of Japan has gotochi ramen (regional ramen) which is unique to that specific area, and in most cases, shops serving that particular variety are found only in that one place.
Generally speaking, it's difficult to encounter this regional ramen unless you purposely venture out to these areas, but at a complex in the Kyoto Station building you can try noodle dishes from various places in the country.
Kyoto Ramen Koji: Try Ramen from All Parts of Japan!
This place is called Kyoto Ramen Koji, and is located right next to Kyoto Station.
Kyoto Ramen Koji's corridor is lined with a total of eight shops, representing Sapporo, Fukushima, Tokyo, Toyama, Osaka, Kyoto, Tokushima and Hakata. So while visiting Kyoto, you can try ramen from different parts of the country in one convenient location.
Kyoto Ramen Koji is inside the Kyoto Station building (the building that houses shops and businesses in addition to the train station itself), so as soon as you arrive in Kyoto you can head out for a bowl of these tasty noodles.
It's No Problem Even If You Can't Read Japanese!
Kyoto Ramen Koji's pamphlet is written in English, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Korean, and of course in Japanese as well.
First buy a ticket from the dispensing machine for the ramen you'd like to eat, then pass it on to the shop staff. Each ramen button on the ticket machine has a corresponding picture you can refer to, so even if you can't read Japanese it shouldn't be a problem.
Let's Find Out Which Regional Ramen They Serve Here!
For the purposes of this article, we carefully selected three shops in Kyoto Ramen Koji which we'll now introduce to you.
1. Tokushima (Ramen Todai)
First up is Ramen Todai from Tokushima prefecture.
Tokushima ramen has soup that comes in three different colors: yellow, brown or white. Ramen Todai is famous in Japan, known as a shop serving ramen with a brown-colored soup.
The soup is made from pork bones and flavored with shoyu (soy sauce), and there are various toppings including raw egg and green onions, so you can enjoy the unique taste of this brown-colored version of Tokushima ramen.
The soup has a slightly thick consistency and the flavor is on the strong side. Let's mix the raw egg into the soup and try eating it!
The flavor isn't too rich, so we recommend it for everyone including children.
Inside we could hear the melody of a traditional Shikoku folk song (minyo), called Yosakoi Bushi, playing in the background. The shop premises are large and spacious, so even with all my bags and personal belongings I could easily go inside the shop.
2. Kyoto (Masutani)
Representing regional ramen in the Kyoto area is Kyoto Ginkakuji Masutani. It features a rich tasting chicken stock-based soup, filled with pieces of pork backfat. This style of ramen originated at Masutani, and since then has spread throughout Kyoto.
The soup is flavored with chili peppers giving it a bit of a kick.
The pork backfat gives the soup its rich flavor, and Kyoto's famous Kujo green onions (Kujo negi) add some extra texture to the dish. The chashu slices consist of lean pork meat, so even those who don't particularly care for a fatty taste can easily enjoy this dish.
3. Hakata (Ikkosha)
When someone mentions Kyushu ramen, Hakata ramen often comes to mind. Ichiran ramen, popular with visitors to Japan, also falls into the Hakata ramen category.
Hakata ramen is characterized by a milky-colored, pork bone based soup, chashu pork slices marbled with fat, and delicious toppings such as karashi takana (*1) and kikurage mushrooms. The noodles are famous for being much thinner than most ramen noodles.
*1 Karashi Takana: One kind of Japanese pickled vegetable. The takana vegetable is mixed with chili peppers and pickled.
I'm going to try the Ajitama ramen (800 yen) which is topped with a nitamago (soft boiled egg flavored with a shoyu marinade).
The noodles are especially thin, so the rich tasting soup easily sticks to them.
Karashi takana and the other toppings are all complimentary, so feel free to add some to your dish.
For those customers who'd like to enjoy an even richer taste, try adding some garlic by using this gadget that will crush one whole clove at a time. Experiment a little and discover your own unique flavor.
Still Many Types of Ramen We Haven't Yet Mentioned!
In addition to the three shops we introduced today, there are other regional ramen shops clustered within Kyoto Ramen Koji. Whether you're someone who's already tried many types of ramen before, or even someone who hasn't, on your next visit to Kyoto drop into Kyoto Ramen Koji for a new culinary experience!
Kyoto Ramen Koji
Address: Kyoto, Shimogyo, Karasuma-dori, Shiokoji-Sagaru, Higashi-Shiokojicho 901, Kyoto Station building 10F
Hours: 11:00-22:00 (Last order 21:30)
Information in Other Languages: Available
Nearest Station: JR Kyoto Station
Access: 5 minute walk from the central exit of JR Kyoto Station
Cost: 700-1500 yen
Official Home page: Kyoto Ramen Koji
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