Koto 135-0016, Tokyo
+81 3 5677 5176
My first meal in Japan was a comforting and insanely delicious bowl of ramen that sent me walking back to my hotel with change for AUD9. After a very long bus ride from Narita Airport to downtown Tokyo followed by two subway trips to Shirakawa, I finally checked into my hotel two hours after my feet touched Japanese soil.
I don’t know why I booked a hotel at a random slightly-out-of-nowhere district on my first night in Tokyo as opposed to the more popular Shibuya, Ginza or Shinjuku districts. In saying that, at least I was forced to learn Tokyo’s initially confusing subway system very quickly. Plus, staying in a relatively quiet district meant that I would be forced to sleep early rather than get distracted by lights, bars, restaurants and cheap whisky bars.
Despite my hotel being on a quiet street, there was no shortage of eateries within walking distance – as was the case almost everywhere in Japan. It was a bit chilly that night so when I came across a ramen restaurant, I knew that a steaming bowl of noodles would hit the spot.
I didn’t know it at the time, but Ramen Yamagoya is a ramen franchise famous all over Asia and I just happened to walk into one of Japan’s many branches. It was close to 11PM but the place was still happenin’ with a few solo diners polishing off the last dregs of their ramen. I was nervous because this would be the first time I’d be ordering food in Japan but thank goodness for menus with photos and English translations, hey.
I ordered the default ramen, with the barest of trimmings – sliced chashu (roast pork), boiled egg, dried seaweed and pickled bamboo shoots.
The word ‘mukashi’ means ‘old school’ in Japanese and the menu described the pork bone broth as being ‘nostalgic-style’ – whatever that meant. Regardless, this simple bowl of ramen was amazing. It might have been a chain restaurant ramen but it certainly beat any ramen I’ve tasted in Melbourne; the broth was teaming with so much flavour and depth and the noodles beautifully chewy. Everything was perfect, from the buttery slices of roast pork to the gooey egg. Best of all, it was the perfect portion size to stave off my massive hunger pangs (after all, I flew Jetstar and didn’t bring enough food for the entire flight – silly me).
I never got to visit another Ramen Yamagoya in Japan but that was fine because I got to try heaps of other wonderful ramen places. Best of all, there are Ramen Yamagoya restaurants in Jakarta so I know where I’ll be getting my fix when I’m there in just over two weeks’ time.