Kintarou: Holiday Ramen
Stars and Stripes | .
published: September 21, 2016
I began my carb-intensive adventure at Kintarou. It’s a counter-style shop with room for about 10 people, manned by a chef who looks like he’s been doing this for a long time.
A track off the Beastie Boys 1986 “License to Ill” album played in the background, though the lunch crowd appeared too focused on their noodles to notice.
First, buy your meal from the vending machine. The beauty of this method for non-Japanese speakers is that you can’t fail so badly that you won’t get fed.
There are two big buttons. The one of the left is tsukemen, where the noodles are separate from the soup, for 750 yen (about $7.43). The other is standard ramen for 700 yen ($6.94). Put some money in, press a button and your ticket comes out.
The next row of buttons changes the bowl size, while the orange row after that adds egg, bamboo shoots or extra meat. If you’re up for real adventure, just hit a few buttons, hand the tickets over to the chef and see what happens. Who knows? You might enjoy the side of pig cartilage over rice, a Tabelog favorite.
After a few glances around the counter, I ordered the tsukemen and kindly declined a fork from the chef, who apparently isn’t used to seeing foreigners. The thick, curled noodles felt firm on the teeth, giving just the right amount of resistance. Of the three shops I tried, Kintarou had the best noodles.
Then came the sensory confusion. The slices of meat, which are nearly always some type of pork, tasted like ... turkey? No, that couldn’t be it. Turkey is rarely for sale in Japan. It was chicken. The broth tasted richer