Review: Ichiran – Ueno, Tokyo

Ichiran Tonkatsu Ramen in Tokyo’s Ueno location.

Well, I’m not sure what all the acclaim is about.

I’ve heard from so many sources that this is the best, or among the best, ramen (specializing in tonkatsu). While it was very good in some respects, it did not live up to the hype for me. Highlight was the broth, a very nice umami flavor and light in texture (not creamy). Noodles were good. Pork slices were soggy but had good flavor – but were still a weak element overall.

No egg included, but I got one as an extra. It was not soy-cooked and came separately (not in bowl) — with the shell on!! Really? I realize in my ramen travels that there are so many types of ramen, and that much of my commentary is informed by my preferences. That said, all in all, I’d call this a decent quality bowl, but – in my opinion – not at the level of Ippudo, Nagi, Mensho or Iza Ramen in San Francisco. I’ve certainly had better tonkatsu. I do like the preferences sheet you get to fill out.

Ichiran order preference sheet.
Ichiran boxed take-home ramen is available all over Japan. Around $18 US.

Ramen Club 5-Star Rating System:

Food: 3.25 stars

Service: 3 stars

Atmosphere/Comfort: 3 stars

Note: I’m not keen on the industrialization of ramen at Ichiran: you sit in a slotted cubicle and slurp in private. You never even see the face of the person serving you. Some locations have 6 floors of such cubicles. And the worst piped-in music.

Tsuta is coming to San Francisco!

Tsuta in Sugamo, Tokyo

Tsuta, the Tokyo restaurant that was the first ramen spot to secure a Michelin star, is opening up a San Francisco location.

I nearly dropped my chopsticks when I read about this in the San Francisco Chronicle. Tsuta joins Nagi, Ippudo, Mensho and Ichiran as notable Japan ramen specialists which have moved to the U.S. I’m pretty damn excited about this, as I had one of my rare transcendent ramen experiences at Tsuta. Notable because shoyu ramen, Tsuta’s specialty, isn’t typically my favorite.

The restaurant will open in mid-September and be located at 155 4th Street. For updates and other info, check out Tsuta’s U.S. website at http://www.tsutaramenusa.com.

Full review of Tsuta Tokyo coming soon.