Last post, I was saying how when it comes to ramen maniacs, there are those who hop to new shops, and those who keep coming back to their favorites. If I'm a member of the former group, my buddy D is a member of the latter. He found his jam and he keeps on rockin' it. That shop is Tetsuya, a small chain based in Sapporo with a Tokyo branch located along the Kannana ramen corridor.
D had been plugging Tetsuya for a long time, but for whatever reason I hadn't got around to trying it yet. I was shaking off the last of a mild but extended hangover when D buzzed me - today was the day, and a nice piping hot bowl of ramen was just what I needed. I dunno a whole lot about Tetsuya's history, but I know it's got a good reputation in Sapporo, and that's saying a lot, since the Hokkaidô capital ranks in the top tier of national ramen.
Now, if Sapporo is known for one kind of ramen, it's miso. In fact, the two are nearly synonymous. Some of the first ramen journalism in Japan, written back in the mid-1950s, describes Sapporo "city of ramen," and how one can barely go a few steps without stumbling into a bowl. The porky miso tonkotsu of the town was one of the first styles to get a bona fide boom in Tokyo (spurred on by shops like Ezogiku), and recently we've been blessed with a branch of Junren, one of the very best Sapporo shops.
But miso ramen is not what I ordered at Tetsuya. D had been into the miso, but a couple months back he confided in me: "dude, I know I'm supposed to get the miso...but I think the shôyu (soy sauce) soup is better." Then sure enough, I opened up a review of Tetsuya in a magazine, which stated "though Tetsuya is known for their miso, those regulars in the know prefer the shôyu." What, did they interview D for this article? So Shôyu I got, and I did not regret. The soup is a very rich and very fatty tonkotsu shôyu (pork and soy), but smoother and sweeter than the salty, almost pungent Yokohama ie-kei tonkotsu shôyu.
There's plenty of suspended fat, but hey, that's what you need to warm you up on a chilly wet night as the seasons change. Garlicky and deep, Tetsuya's shôyu ramen is the kind to make you lick your lips, both to savor the taste and suck off the grease. It doesn't hurt that the bamboo shoots taste extra fresh, the onions are extra crisp, and the egg yolks shines a beautiful orange against the pretty blue bowl.
In the Sapporo style, the noodles are very yellow (from alkali "kansui" water), and very curly, though Tetsuya's are a bit thinner than standard. Though I tend to prefer thick noodles with soup like this, the unusual size means they are most likely home made, and shows the shop isn't just settling for the default. Eminently slurpable, my only regret is not ordering a large. Somewhat strangely, straight tonkotsu and shio (salt) broth options are also on offer, but I'd stick with the shôyu or miso. At least, so sayeth my buddy the regular.
Before that night, I knew Tetsuo the Iron Man...
...and I knew Yoshida Tatsuya, drummer of the Ruins...
...but I didn't know Tetsuya. Thank goodness I changed that state of affairs!