매화, 대나무 숲, 역사 탐방
Tomita Ramen is arguably one of the top ramen shops across Japan. Don't take my word for it either — at the time of writing it proudly sits at the top of the Ramen Database with an average 99.22 score in Number 1 spot, twice winner of the Grand Tsukemen Festival, several times winner of Tokyo Ramen of the Year and countless other magazine/industry awards.
Once you're seated at Tomita Ramen, located just a few blocks from Matsudo station, two main dishes will be competing for your attention: chuka soba and tsukesoba. I opted for tsukesoba, their version of tsukemen dipping noodles, purely on the basis of recommendations and the buzz surrounding this dish. It did not disappoint. You can opt for different quantities of noodles and also meat toppings (the epic tokusei version): a mixture of perfectly grilled, tataki and raw, all of which come together in perfect combination.
The ingredients hidden beneath the surface of the thick, richly flavoured tonkotsu-gyokai dipping broth, including char siu and bamboo shoots, were delightful, and combined perfectly with the thick, chewy noodles – made fresh on site each morning. It's always challenging getting through a huge bowl of tsukemen but once you run out of noodles, the soup provided afterwards is a great follow-up and balances out the experience perfectly.
Combining ramen-yu stock (used to cook the noodles) with your remaining dipping broth, this soup can be customised to taste with extra chopped yuzu peel, char siu and/or onion, all available free of charge in any combination. The soup itself uses a gyoukai/seafood base using niboshi sardines produced in Setouchi.
Getting in line
Owing to Tomita's popularity, waiting times of 1-2 hours are not unheard of, even on a weekday and despite the fact this place opened as far back as 2006.
Like many ramen shops, you'll need to buy a food ticket from the vending machine just inside the doorway. While the restaurant, which seats 11 people along 2 counters, opens at 11am you can actually buy your tickets from 7am, which is when they start making that day's fresh noodles on site too.
Once you buy a ticket, a member of staff will take your name and contact information, indicating what time to return and when you'll be seated. The first intake is seated around 10:40am with the ramen served on the dot from 11am. It sounds super organised, but if you turn up just before 11am, you realistically might not be seated until 2pm.
There is always a long line of people stretching down the block waiting their turn but this really just proves Tomita's credentials. It is worth making the effort to come out to Matsudo to experience Tomita Ramen and now you know how best to avoid the queues if you do.
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