Well, it's been a busy fall. My company's biggest event (5700+ attendees plus 20,000 virtual attendees) is taking place this week, and my March event just opened on our new software platform today. It's been hectic over here at Arthur Hungry HQ. December will be better, I think, and it should at least be quiet during the holidays. I've got a couple more Japan photos to share, then a bunch from my fall trips to Chicago and New York. I've got a bit to get through.
Our last lunch in Kyoto was at Takaraya Ramen (note: Japanese website) on Ponto-cho near the river. Kyoto is not particularly famous for ramen, but this glowing review from Kyoto Foodie (with great Google map) plus my inability to go to Japan without at least one ramen stop made this trip inevitable. Takaraya is actually nicer inside than a typical ramen shop, with 2 little tables, a pleasant counter, and a boisterous crew in the back. It was pretty crowded when we went during the lunch hour, and we initially had to split up into 2 pairs. Eventually, the couple next to us left, and we got to take over most of the counter.
Ordering this was kind of a no-brainer for me. Their standard ramen, using a pork bone stock, topped with extra fatty thinly sliced chashu? I'll take 2 please! Toro here is a bit of a play on words in reference to the tuna version, aka my favorite food, and the concept of pork toro alone makes me salivate. This did not disappoint, as the pork was melt-in-your-mouth buttery, while the soup was hearty and flavorful. The noodles had a nice thickness to them with a little bit of chew.
Kyoto Foodie adores this dish, proclaiming it symbolic of Kyoto style. I must say, it was one of the most interesting bowls of ramen I've ever seen. That's not a typo up there.. this ramen had a few cubes of mozzarella cheese! My dad volunteered and ordered it, since it was too interesting not to try. It had a lighter overall feeling than the pork ramen, and actually wasn't nearly as strange as it sounds. Once everything was mixed up, it turned into just a straight up good bowl of noodles.
I think that if I lived in Japan and ate quality ramen with more regularity, the sumashi ramen would be an exciting change of pace... but I preferred the regular style of the toroniku.
Another intriguing item at Takaraya was this egg/rice dish. The quality of eggs in Japan is very high, and the simplicity of this dish is what made it great. The rice is served very hot, and after being scrambled into the bowl, the egg became ever so slightly cooked (kind of like a carbonara). You can then mix in or eat with the kelp and pickles. This would be a great breakfast.
Of course, we were in a ramen shop, so we had to get some gyoza. Takaraya's was about par for the course for a Japanese ramen place. Pretty good, thin skin, and a nice char.
Like many of you out there, I'm an absolute ramen lover. I'm always looking for good versions here in SF - sadly, most good ramen requires a drive down to the South Bay. If I were to spend any extended amount of time in Japan, ramen would undoubtedly become a staple of my diet. It's way better than the stuff in college...