Thick Tonkotsu Gyokai Tsukemen — An entire feast crammed in a single bowl
“Menya Takei” is a Ramen & Tsukemen (dipping ramen) specialist.
Their newly opened Rakusaiguchi store is conveniently located not even a minute from the Hankyu Rakusaiguchi station.
The original, “Menya Takei Honten,” was an incredibly popular restaurant that boasted unceasing queues and was held in high regard within the Kyoto Tsukemen community.
In addition to Menya Takei’s original store, Hankyu Umeda store and R1 Go store (In Kyoto’s Yawata City); October 2018 saw the opening of the latest Rakusaiguchi store.
Above all else, Menya Takei is known for their Tonkotsu (pork bone broth) and Gyokai (seafood broth) Tsukemen. “Tonkotsu Gyokai” is a pretty standard type of Tsukemen; however, because of Menya Takei dedication to quality, their Tsukemen is thought to be unrivaled within Kyoto.
In addition to Tsukemen, Menya Takei’s Rakusaiguchi store also offer a lighter ramen too. This comes in the form of their light and refreshing clam soba, the Tanrei Asari Soba (淡麗あさり蕎麦).
Each Menya Takei store serves roughly the same Tsukemen, with slight variations in toppings, but the ramen change completely from store to store, which is great for us because it means we can have fun hopping from store to store comparing the different ramen!
The Rakusaiguchi station, where Menya Takei Rakusaiguchi is located, is in a popular up and coming residential area close to Kyoto Station and Shijo Karasuma and which is quickly becoming home to a number of restaurants.
Although there’s not much to do in the way of sightseeing in this area, Menya Takei’s location of not even a minute from the station means it’s incredibly conveniently located. So if you’re ever taking the Hankyu line from Osaka’s Umeda station to Karasuma or Kawaramachi in downtown Kyoto (or the other way around), then why not hop off at Rakusaiguchi station and try some of the best Tsukemen Kyoto has to offer?
/ ￥900（Excl. Tax）
Menya Takei Rakusaiguchi’s standard, Tonkotsu Gyokai Tsukemen.
Get stuck in by dipping Menya Takei’s unique super thick, super chewy and slippery-smooth noodles in the thick pork bone and seafood based soup.
This Tsukemen can only be described as the very best.
The thick and umami-filled Tonkotsu Gyokai soup cling astonishingly well to the thick noodles, which you’ll slurp down and empty the bowl of before you know it.
On top of the soup sits a helping of white scallions and a piece of seaweed, and on the noodles, a wonderful smelling slice of pork Chashu.
We highly recommend this bowl of Tsukemen to those lovers of really thick ramen broths.
Tanrei Asari Soba (Clam derived salt base) (Medium)
/ ￥830 (Excel. Tax)
Another staple of Menya Takei Rakusaiguchi is the light clam filled Tanrei Asari Soba. This ramen is an incredibly light Tanrei ramen and is unlike the Tsukemen mentioned above in every way.
When you take your first bite of this ramen, you’ll start wiggling in your seat with delight as the delicate flavors of the clams, and mild flavors of the salt fill your mouth.
The notably thin noodles are soft and go down easy, so they can be slurped up in no time. Which is also why we think this is the perfect bowl of ramen for after a night out on the town.
On top of the handful of clams, this ramen is also topped with white scallions, chicken Chashu, a boiled egg, and Mitsuba.
We recommend this ramen to those who love lighter or more refined ramen.
*By the way, “Tanrei ramen” has been sort of trending recently.
Tanrei ramen refers to ramen with clear and less murky broths.
Compared to the thick soups of tonkotsu or chicken toripaitan ramen, Tanrei ramen’s soup goes down easy and has more delicate and refined flavors, which is also why it’s become incredibly popular recently, especially amongst women.
Tokusei Special Tsukemen (Medium)
/ ￥1,160（Excl. Tax）
This special “Tokusei Tsukemen,” which is the Tsukemen mentioned above plus toppings, is the beautiful poster child of Menya Takei and has all the essence of the store crammed into a single bowl. In addition to classic pork Chashu, it’s also topped with a more uncommon pork Chashu, an amazing smelling grilled chicken Chashu, two fat sticks of chewy Menma bamboo shoot, a boiled egg, and two sheets of seaweed.
It goes without saying that being able to achieve this level of over-the-top extravagance for only an extra ¥260 is insane in and of itself, but I’m not here to talk about the price, I really want to mention just how high quality of a bowl of Tsukemen this is.
Each and every component of this Tsukemen boasts a certain quality that I’ve just never had before, and on top of that, are all unbearably delicious; especially the super thick Menma bamboo shoots, which have a bit of a chew, while still maintaining a fantastic tenderness. They almost feel like extra pieces of some kind of meat they’re so good.
The Tsukemen soup also features Menma in it too, so you can enjoy double the bamboo goodness in this Tsukemen.
Mito Straw Natto
/ ￥250（Excl. Tax）
One other dish I want to bring some attention to at Menya Takei is the Mito Straw Natto.
Apparently natto begun to be sold in the restaurant because the owner loved it so much. The flavor of this straw wrapped natto is just outstanding.
You can mix it in with your noodles after giving it a good mix itself, you can mix it in the soup and eat them together, or even order some rice on the side and eat it with that, the way you eat this dish is entirely up to you.
Our recommended way of eating the natto is, first mix them with your noodles, then dip them both in the Tsukemen soup and finally slurp it all up together.
When you do this, you slightly dull the flavors of the soup and will be able to enjoy some different flavors.
This natto is bigger, sticker and has stronger umami flavors than the natto you’d usually find at the supermarket, so we highly recommend it to any natto lovers out there.
(For natto virgins, we’d say give this one a pass. Maybe try natto somewhere else before deciding to take on this straw cradled beast)