A shio tonkotsu ramen shop, always with a long queue
Aitsuno-Ramen Kataguruma is located a 12 minute walk from the JR Tambaguchi Station. The owner of this shop originally apprenticed at the very popular ramen shop Oreno-Ramen Appareya / 俺のラーメン あっぱれ屋, located in Joyo City in Kyoto before turning independent and opening his own place here. With a distinctive name, and a deeply rich tonkotsu soup that quickly attracted acclaim, in the blink of an eye, the shop became so popular that you will always see endless lines of customers waiting to be served.
The most famous item on the Aitsuno-Ramen Kataguruma menu is the shio tonkotsu ramen, prepared with deeply rich tonkotsu broth, extracted from simmering pork bone for several hours. With a distinct flavor that can absolutely never be found at any other shop, the taste which causes 10 out of 10 people to declare “this is delicious!” is of a level of quality which makes us imagine that perhaps we have witnessed, in some ways, the ultimate and definitive form of shio ramen.
The shop itself is a modern and brightly spacious environment, and frequented by an extremely large amount of female customers. As you will find it always very crowded, you should be prepared to line up for about 30 minutes at least.
Kokuton Shio Ramen (Regular)
The most popular item on the menu of Aitsuno-Ramen Kataguruma is Kokuton Shio Ramen.
This is a shio tonkotsu ramen, prepared by carefully simmering tonkotsu soup for several hours, and completed by simply seasoning it with salt. The soup is lighter than it looks, but has a full body, and with flavoring that is not too rich and not too thin, can appropriately be termed as just right. Special mention needs to be made of the perfect harmony of ingredients accomplished by this ramen. The flat noodles and other ingredients are all homemade, but that’s not all. The chewy and textured flat noodles match perfectly with the soup, and together with rare char siu slices, and thick bamboo shoots, combine to form a superb level of compatibility, as if each of these ingredients existed precisely for the purpose of forming this perfect bowl of ramen.
Available on the counter top is some pepper oil, which when added in small doses to the soup, add some flavorful punch, and kick the umami flavor and body up another notch. As this oil matches well with all of the ramen and tsukemen(dipping noodles) offered at Aitsuno-Ramen Kataguruma, we wholeheartedly recommend that you try it out.
Dakuton Shio Ramen (Regular)
The other famous item on the Aitsuno-Ramen Kataguruma menu is Dakuton Shio Ramen.
This can be described as making Kokuton Shio Ramen in an even richer version, for ramen aficionados.
Although this is a deep and rich soup, thick like potage, it strangely doesn’t feel heavy. The impression one gets is of maintaining the body and flavor of Kokuton Shio Ramen while seeking to preserve only its profound depth. A can’t-miss recommendation for lovers of deep and rich ramen.
A shio tonkotsu flavored tsukemen, limited to only 20 servings per day.
To begin with, “Tsukemen” is a dish which, like zaru soba(soba served on a bamboo draining basket with dipping sauce) entails serving the noodles and soup(dipping sauce) separately, and is a form of ramen which is eaten by dipping the noodles in the soup. In many cases, the soup is prepared to be stronger than normal ramen soup.
Ultra Tsukemen is served with a creamy dipping sauce(much like cheese fondue) to be eaten with thick noodles. The flavor retains the umami and body of Kokuton Shio Ramen while adding the delicious essence of something similar to a cheesy taste. As a meal it is much more substantial than it appears at first glance, and is recommended for diners who like extra volume in their meals. Since it sells out immediately, we suggest that customers who want to eat Ultra Tsukemen start lining up before the shop opens.
Aitsumeshi is a butter-flavored takikomi gohan(rice dish seasoned with sauces and various ingredients) dish. While seasoned lightly, the flavor of the butter-based dashi soup stock is exquisitely effective, and matches superbly with Aitsuno-Ramen Kataguruma. Personally, I think it’s so delicious that if I could, I would like to take this dish home as onigiri rice balls. When ordering ramen or tsukemen, we absolutely recommend that you order this as a side dish.