Handmade Tsukemen Noodles and a Fish and Pork Bones Soup
Tsukemen Kirari is a three minute walk away from Keihan Chushojima station. This restaurant is famous for the way they combine fish and pork bones broth in their tsukemen soup. If you haven’t heard of tsukemen before, it is a type of ramen where the noodles and the soup(tsukejiru) come in separate bowls, like zarusoba, soba noodles on a bamboo draining basket. You eat tsukemen by dipping the noodles in the soup. The soup is usually thicker than normal ramen soup.
The thing that separates Tsukemen Kirari’s tsukemen from the others is quality. Usually the noodles used in tsukemen are thick, but even among tsukemen noodles, Tsukemen Kirari’s noodles are exceptionally thick. Even though the noodles are really thick, they are not hard or difficult to eat, but, dare I say, form an ultimate harmony between the tsukemen noodles and the soup.
The service is sincere and polite, and the feel of the restaurant is nice, but what really impressed me was their passion and devotion to tsukemen. When you look at the waitresses busily taking orders, the serious looks on the cooks’ faces, you will be sure you are getting top-class tsukemen. Tsukemen Kirari is only open from 11:30AM to 14:30PM, and they are closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays, so make sure to check the day and time before you go there.
Fish and pork bones soup tsukemen (large portion)
The tsukemen that Tsukemen Kirari is most famous for is their fish and pork bones soup tsukemen. The soup(tsukejiru) is a pork bones based that with the addition of the fish broth makes for a deep and rich taste. The rich and dense soup sticks to the thick and chewy noodles. For the tsukemen lovers who like a rich soup, this is a dish you cannot resist. I would like you to add some citrus sudachi vinegar or raw garlic to the noodles after you have eaten some so you can enjoy the change in the taste. I am sure you will be impressed by this new taste. On top of the noodles there is a creamy soy-marinated soft-boiled egg, chewy menma bamboo shoots, seaweed, and in the soup white leek and chashu Japanese braised pork.
Shrimp Tsukemen (large portion)
Tsukemen Kirari’s other specialty, their shrimp tsukemen.
This shrimp tsukemen is decidedly different just a “shrimp taste” tsukemen. The soup of this shrimp tsukemen is shrimp itself! The soup is so full of the taste and fragrance of the shrimp that you would think the noodles had gone through not soup, but a bucket of shrimp. On the other hand there is none of the fishy smell or bitterness of shrimp present, and the umami and sweetness of shrimp are extracted in a mind-blowingly superb way. You eat this soup that has capsulated the essence of shrimp with the thick chewy handmade tsukemen. Can there be anything better than this?
The shrimp tsukemen is limited to 15 portions a day, so if you want to have some I recommend you line up before the restaurant opens.
Salt Pork Bones Ramen (normal portion)
Tsukemen Kirara also offers ramen, their offering being the salt pork bones ramen.
Just because it’s ramen by a tsukemen restaurant you shouldn’t look down on it. The conventional wisdom is that if a ramen or tsukemen restaurant has really good noodles, their other offerings will be great too. In accordance with this conventional wisdom, this ramen at Tsukemen Kirara is delicious. It has the same fish and pork bones based soup as the tsukemen while adding some saltiness to make an exquisite bowl of ramen. Recommended for those who prefer ramen to tsukemen.
Kirarimeshi – Rice with Mixed Grains
This is a rice side dish that bears the name of the restaurant, Tsukemen Kirari – Kirarimeshi, meaning Kirari rice.
This is a really unique side dish. It is rice with mixed grains containing normal white rice, brown rice, Japanese millet, foxtail millet, and other grains, all together making for 16 different types of rice and grain. Compared to normal white rice it has more nutrition and a firm, chewy texture. Compared to white rice this “healthier”, mild taste goes better with the rich taste of Tsukemen Kirari’s tsukemen. If you order tsukemen, I recommend you get some Kirarameshi too.