Holy smokes! I discovered a minor Japanese ramen style that I had no idea existed!
I make it no secret that I am a big ramen nerd, and thusly try and know as much as I can about not just the Tokyo ramen scene, but the fascinating world of local ramen throughout Japan. So when I rolled into Hikone Station, on the banks of Lake Biwa, and saw a famous-in-our-town poster at the station, I was shocked to see something new.
Omi champon. I had heard of omigyu, the locally raised cattle with well marbled meat, but had never heard of a locally branded ramen. I had also heard of champon, the famous ramen style from Nagasaki. Gotta grab a bowl.
According to the champon wikipedia page, 近江ちゃんぽん dates back to the 90s, when local shop Champontei wanted to expand their brand and become a franchise chain. By creating a local style, they could count on a minor influx of tourism, and things like the previously mentioned train station poster calling them out by name.
Yeah, this one isn't looking to good.
But then I dug into it. Omi champon is defined as having a light broth made with konbu seaweed and katsuo fish. Top with a hug pile of crisp vegetables, and give the customer lots of vinegar on the table to hit it with. This bowl was, shockingly, quite good. Although I think the concept of making this a local dish is corny, in the end I recommend it to anyone who is in this area and needs an affordable bowl.
Not worth a huge detour, but Hikone is a quaint little castle town that might be worth a trek for someone living in the Kansai area.
Of course, B-list celebrities put on their best faces for the cameras, as always.
Official Site Here
Shiga-ken, Hikone-shi, Asahimachi 9-6
Closest station: Hikone