Thursday, March 14, 2019

Tomita at Narita Airport

日本の中華そば 富田 成田空港第一ターミナル店

Tomita is one of Japan's most famous tsukemen shops. The recent Ramen Heads movie means that many people around the world know about the shop.

And while the shop in Matsuda is the real deal, they recently opened a branch at Narita Airport. Convenient!

Keep in mind, this is not a carbon copy clone of the original shop. Part of what makes Tomita so great is that the master, Osama Tomita, is always there making sure every detail is perfect. This is what the Japanese call a shokunin (職人) or craftsman. People will wait up to four hours at the head shop for what is arguably the number one shop in all of Japan.

Tomita at the airport, on the other hand, uses an off-site industrial kitchen. The whole thing was overseen by Tomita-san, but the experience is nonetheless different.

That aside, this is one amazing bowl. I've had airport ramen from Sapporo to Kyushu, and this one is legit.

Thick tonkotsu gyokai soup, heavy on the dried fish flavors. Underlying umami is intense on this one.

Great egg!

Great soup, great noodles, and great toppings. Tonkotsu gyokai tsukemen is on most people's hit list in Japan. Rokurinsha is the shop that most foreigners know about, mostly due to the hype from an American TV show that aired around 10 years ago. That overseas hype will probably be taken over by Tomita, but then lost. Most people are unwilling to wait the required time at the head shop. Who knows, a very famous YouTuber made a video there, so that might drive things a bit.

I'm ranting a bit. If you've met me in person, you know that I really dislike the way ramen becomes famous in the West (and China) versus how a shop becomes famous in Japan.

I'd say this is a must hit on your way out of Japan, if you are traveling from Narita Airport. By the way, Haneda Airport, despite the lack of a Tomita branch, is the one you should use. Narita is 90 minutes to three hours from Tokyo. Haneda is a quick 20-minute monorail ride. Just FYI.