Ichijoji Ramen

August 20, 2015

by Mao Osako and Yuina Terasaki

Most people think of Kyoto as a place to see temples, shrines, and geisha. However, Kyoto is more than that. In this article, we will introduce a place that many tourists don’t know about: Ichijoji, a fierce battleground of delicious ramen restaurants. After describing what ramen is, we will tell you more about this most famous ramen area of Kyoto and recommend some of the shops there. We hope that after reading about it, you will want to visit Ichijoji yourself.

What is Ramen?

Ramen is a Japanese noodle soup dish made with Chinese-style wheat noodles and served in a meat or fish based broth. One of the characteristic features of Japanese ramen is the different types of broth offered, such as soy sauce, miso (soybean paste), and salt. Mainly, the taste of soy sauce is typical of Kyoto. In addition to broth and noodles, there are various ingredients on top, such as slices of roast pork, green onion, and garlic. A typical bowl of ramen costs around 600 to 1,000 yen. Men like to eat ramen late at night, while most women tend to eat ramen during lunchtime. The calories are a little high, but you can get great boost of energy at the same time.

Ichijoji

Ichijoji is located in the north part of Kyoto near the Takano river. There are no famous temples or shrines there, but instead Ichijoji is mostly known for its large collection of ramen restaurants. There are about 22 ramen shops there, all competing with each other for business. That’s why this place is known as a fierce battleground of ramen. When you get off the train at Ichijoji station and walk a little to the west, just follow your nose to the many ramen shops on and around Higashioji Street.

The variety of ramen shops is fascinating. One of the ramen shops has been in business for over 40 years. On the other hand, another shop just opened its doors recently. Each shop has its own unique characteristics. While some shops change their ways to meet their customers’ needs better, other shops stay true to their ways regardless of the desires of customers. For shops open to change, they tend to alter their interior decoration for families, or make a special menu by referring to surveys given to customers. Other shops are against this approach. The purposely don’t keep up with the trends. Instead, they maintain their own way from one generation to the next, building a tradition. That’s why although there are many Ramen shops, there are also popular and unpopular shops.

Perhaps one of the reasons why Ichijoji became such a hotspot for ramen is that there are many schools around this area. And since ramen is cheaper than many other restaurants, it saves students money.

Tentenyuu Ramen Shop

One of the ramen shops we recommend is called Tentenyuu, also known as the ‘Faith of Ichijoji’. According to the Japanese gourmet website, Tabelog, Tentenyuu won the award for Best Ramen 2011. When you visit Ichjoji for the first time, you should definitely go to this ramen shop. It has a signature broth made with 100% chicken stock and vegetables. The chicken stock is boiled for more then 11 hours, so if we drink the broth, we can get a lot of collagen, which is good for us. Also, this shop offers different tastes between day and night. So will you try going twice in one day?

When we went to Tentenyuu, it was nighttime. We ordered a bowl of chashumen for 830 yen. ‘Chashu’ means baked pork, while ‘men’ means noodles. When our order arrive, we were surprised at how many pieces of chashu there were. We couldn’t even see the noodles due to the seven tasty looking pieces of chashu on top. And because the pork had a light taste, we were able to eat it easily and still have room for the noodles, which were slim and a bit firm. The salty-simmered bamboo shoots had a pleasantly strong taste. It was our first time to experience that taste. We came to know the real taste of salty-simmered bamboo shoots. Delicious!

When you order ramen at Tentenyuu, you have to call shop staff over and tell them what you want to eat. After we placed our order, we only waited about 5 minutes for the food to come. The shop’s space is fairly large, with three Japanese style small private rooms and 10 stools at the counter. When we went there, most of the seats were full. The staff are very kind, so we recommend that you sit at the counter so you can interact with them.

A bowl of chashumen for 830 yen

A bowl of chashumen for 830 yen


 
The salty-simmered bamboo shoots

The salty-simmered bamboo shoots


 

Yumewokatare Ramen Shop

Yumewokatare is the name of the second Ichijoji ramen shop we recommend. This shop is popular with students. This is because some customers say the ramen here is quite filling, while other say that eating it releases stress. One family we spoke with said they came from all the way from Osaka, and had come to this shop three times in the past. They said the last time they came, they weren’t able to eat there because the ramen was completely sold out. They claim to feel charmed by stamina when eating the ramen at Yumewokatare.

When we went to Yumewokatare, we ate pork double ramen for 980 yen. Customers are able to choose from different sizes, so the cost is related to the portion size. Some customers advised us that the 980 yen size is too much for a woman. But we tried it anyway! When we first saw the bowl of ramen, we were amazed by its size. It contained a lot of bean sprouts and thick chashu. The noodle were thick, too. So if you eat the normal size ramen, maybe you will feel it is still too much to eat. There is no doubt that we can consume a large amount of vegetables, meat, and noodles from the ramen at this shop.

pork double ramen for 980 yen

pork double ramen for 980 yen


 
Noodles

Noodles

When we walked into Yumewokatare, we noticed a strong garlic smell. In fact, the ramen comes with a lot of garlic in it. However, we can order our ramen without garlic at all, so don’t worry if you are not a big fan of garlic.

One of the things we loved about Yumewotakare is that when you go to order the ramen, you have to buy a ticket from a vending machine, containing all the menu items. Then you must hand in the ticket to shop staff. This is one of the unique points of this shop. After handing over our tickets, we only had to wait about 5 minutes. It was just right for us. All the seats in this shop are at the counter, so we were able to watch the shop staff prepare the ramen and interact with them. This is another charming point of Yumewotakare.

you have to buy a ticket from a vending machine.

Ticket Vending Machine


 
In addition, these two shops are literally right next to each other!

So please try two shops a day?

Access

Tentenyuu (天天有)

By train: Get off at Ichijoji station of Eizandentetu.
By bus: Get off at Ichijoji Kitadaimaruchyo.
By subway: Get off at Matugasaki station of Karasuma line.

Operating hours:
Mon-Sat: 18:00~02:30
Sun & public holidays: 18:00~01:30
Shop holidays: Wednesday
Signboard color: Yellow

Building

Tentenyuu


 

Ramensou Yumewokatare(夢を語れ)

By train: Get off at Ichijoji station of Eizandentetu.
By bus: Get off at Ichijoji Kitadaimaruchyo.
By subway: Get off at Matugasaki station of Karasuma line.

Operating hours:
Tue-Sat: 11:30~14:30, 18:00~24:00
Sun: 11:30~14:30, 18:00~22:00
Shop holidays: Monday
Signboard color: Light blue

Building

Ramensou Yumewokatare


 
Two shops are literally right next to each other.

Two shops are literally right next to each other.

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