With no cosmopolitan cachet to influence gourmands’ minds, this ramen wins recognition purely for its flavor.
Tokyo’s ascension to among the world’s elite culinary destinations has occurred more or less concurrently with ramen winning respect from the international gourmand community. We can thank this happy coincidence for not one, but two Tokyo ramen restaurants now being able to boast stars from the prestigious Michelin dining guide.
But far away from the glitz and glamour of Japan’s capital, another ramen restaurant has won a nod of approval from Michelin’s food critics. Ramen restaurant Tonjinchi is located in the town of Himi, part of the western coast of Toyama Bay in Toyama Prefecture. Himi is, for the most part, a very sleepy city, with one of its only claims to fame being that it’s the home town of manga creator Fujiko Fujio A, one half of the duo responsible for beloved children’s franchise Doraemon.
▼ A statue of Fujiko Fujio A’s Laughing Salesman stands within the Himi city limits.
With so few people milling about, it’s startling when you arrive at Tonjinchi and find there’s a line of people waiting to get in!
In Michelin’s 2016 guide for Toyama and Ishikawa Prefectures, Tonjinchi was awarded Bib Gourmand status. While not as high an honor as a full-fledged star, the Bib Gourmandaward is still something to be very proud of, as it designates the restaurant as providing an excellent dining experience at a reasonable price (as opposed to the sky’s-the-limit price range for starred restaurants). What’s more, both of Tokyo’s starred ramen restaurants were previously Bib Gourmand winners, which makes us think there’s a good chance of Tonjinchi stepping up to that level in the near future.
Tonjinchi’s house specialty is Himi Niboshi Ramen, priced at 800 yen (US$7.20) and featuring a sardine stock broth. While that ingredient may have you imagining a stinky, fishy bowl of noodles, the shimmering, golden-hued broth turned out to be extremely mild and refreshing, with hardly a trace of pungency.
In order to let diners enjoy the broth in its purest form, and also customize the flavor to their exact preference, Tonjinchi serves the ramen’s toppings on the side. The tasteful tray holds chashu pork, a stewed egg, bamboo shoots, seaweed, and sliced onions.
We added the toppings bit by bit, enjoying them in turn along with the delicious noodles. In the end, we could see why Tonjinchi has earned the love of locals and international restaurant evaluators alike, and should you ever find yourself in the area (the cultural tourist attractions of the city of Kanazawa aren’t too far away), we definitely recommend stopping by.
Tonjinchi / 貪瞋痴
Address: Toyama-ken, Himi-shi, Asahi Honmachi 1-30
Open 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m., 7 p.m.-midnight
[ Read in Japanese ]
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[ Read in Japanese ]