I can't believe this was my first time to Sano City!
A quick breakdown. Sano is a city in Tochigi Prefecture, less than 100 kilometers from Tokyo. It feels like your typical countryside big city, except it has a secret; some of Japan's best natural spring water. You can guess where this is going. This water is used to make some great ramen! Much like Kitakata, the end result is a simple, but amazing bowl.
Another big part of Sano ramen are the noodles. They are often made in the traditional 青竹打ち - aotakeuchi - method.
An image is worth a lot. Taken from the official Sano ramen homepage. This method of kneading dough is very labor intensive. A dying art for sure.
First thing I did was hop into the tourist info center and ask for a ramen map. The map is inundated with shops, and the lady behind the counter simply pointed me to the closest random shop. I didn't want to get into too much detail with her, so I rephrased.
"Where is the nearest shop with a long line?"
This just happened to be Tamuraya.
The line stretched out the door, and I could imagine it being doubled if it weren't for the heat wave that hit Japan the day before. The thermometer on my motorcycle read 39 degrees.
Nothing like a hot bowl on a hot day.
Right off the bat, you notice the noodles. A bit rougher than what you get from a machine, with a heavy bite. The soup also came off a bit rougher than the recent wave of refined shoyu ramen in Tokyo.
The chashumen is my recommendation. The soup and those thick slabs of pork melt together nicely.
This is one of those classic bowls that I could never tire of. Rustic and pure, it's just great ramen.
Once the weather cools down a bit (the following day was over 40 in this area), I'll try and make it up there for a proper ramen crawl.
The shop's gyoza is very much stamina-style, meaning garlic and nira. Since you can order a set of just three, you might as well try them.
Tochigi-ken, Sano-shi, Narabuchicho 302
Closest station: Sano
Open 11:00-14:00, 17:00-20:00