Thursday, August 16, 2018

天下一品総本店 (Tenkaippin in Kyoto)


Well, I finally made it here, to Tenka Ippin. This was part of my hunt for great ramen in Kyoto, and I just had to pay a visit to this institution.

This is one of Japan's most famous chains of ramen shops.

The first restaurant was opened in 1981 in Kyoto by Tsutomu Kimura. Since then it has been rapid expansion, and there are over 240 shops nationwide.

They serve a few styles, but the thick こってり is the one that most people swear by.

Before I show the bowl, a quick story. Personally, I stay away from the chains. I have no problem with tasty food, but chain shops make their soup in a factory, ship it to the shops, and employ minimum wage students to serve it to you. It's organized and consistent, but lacks the emotion and personal story that I look for in ramen shops.

One time I was asked on a Japanese TV show about Tenka Ippin, and I said that I never went. The next day, my mailbox was full with anonymous hate mail from Japanese people who said I had no right to speak about ramen if I didn't worship the ground that their beloved Ten-Ichi was built upon.

Anyways, this one is Kyoto-style, meaning a thick chicken soup with thin, Kyushu-style noodles. Think of it as East meets West, replacing creamy pork for creamy bird.

It's actually, as the name こってり suggests, super thick.

Great with a little added spice.

This is their original shop, so I felt it was part of my journey to come here. Will I visit other shops? Probably not. But I'd have no problem eating this again.

Website here.