Straight to the point with the umami of chicken! Rich & thick tori paitan tsukemen
Menya Sanda is a ramen restaurant located a 15-minute walk from Hankyu Saiin Station. It hasn’t even been a year since Menya Sanda opened its doors for the hungry ramen lovers of Kyoto, but this little restaurant has already captured the hearts of Kyoto’s ramen critiques.
The real reason for why Menya Sanda has a commandeering hold on ramen critiques’ hearts is that their soup is made from only chicken and water. There is nothing unnecessary in it. The chef of Menya Sanda is very particular about only using additive-free and MSG-free soy sauce, salt, mirin in the ramen he makes. Even the handmade noodles of the restaurant are additive-free.
The chef has a passion for making ramen. His ramen, made from hand-picked ingredients, has a simple, yet unforgettable, taste. The look of the restaurant is clean and neat. The restaurant is easy to spot from the large air conditioning duct it has on its left side.
The chef moves briskly and serves you in a friendly fashion. Menya Sanda is very popular, but as the chef makes all the ramen by himself, you may have to line up (sometimes even for almost 30 minutes). There is a limited amount of some of their ramen available, so I recommend going early.
The signature dish of Menya Sanda is their rich & thick tori paitan tsukemen in which you can taste the concentrated deliciousness of chicken. First, please note the color of the dipping soup. The soup doesn’t contain any other ingredients, only the deliciousness of chicken. This is because the chef wants to make the best chicken soup possible. On top of the beautifully arranged noodles, you have three pieces of chicken chashu and menma cut into thick cubes.
When you dip the noodles into the dipping soup which is thick and has a nice viscosity to it and then slurp the noodles up – it feels as if you were biting down a whole chicken, as you’re enjoying the highly concentrated umami of chicken. The soup is very thick, but the taste is surprisingly not very greasy, and in fact, there is a kind of subtleness in the umami.
The rich-but-gentle tsukemen is delicious from the first dip to the last drip.
Like the dipping soup of the tsukemen, the soup of this ramen is thick and rich, but as it uses high-quality chicken fat it’s not too heavy. The handmade noodles are glossy, chewy, and have a complex taste of wheat. The taste of the noodles doesn’t lose to the taste of the soup, not one bit.
The ramen is topped with the same juicy chicken chashu as the tsukemen and bite-sized menma, but it also has some extra toppings: chopped onion, green onion, and red pepper. The green onion, onion, and red pepper spice up the ramen, and become a nice refreshing accent to the thick taste of the soup.
This ramen can be recommended even to those who don’t normally like their ramen thick and heavy.
Tantanmen is not available every day – it’s a special, only available sometimes. Check Menya Sanda’s Twitter feed to know if they have tantanmen or not when planning a visit.
The soup is a blend of Menya Sanda’s signature tori paitan and seafood stock, and its then finished with some spicy rayu chili oil. The taste is uniquely delicious. Normally tantanmen (dandan noodles) is a dish that is very hot and spicy, but at Menya Sanda there is also sweetness and creaminess in the taste. The mild spiciness of the soup makes the umami in the pork minced meat topping stand out.
The ramen is also topped with fresh bok choy, slightly tangy onion, and crunchy cashew nuts. When you eat the noodles together with these toppings, you are not only enjoying the change in the taste but also making the taste more complex. The toppings don’t take anything away from the umami of the noodles and soup but make them taste even better.
Note that this dish may be sold out (so it’s recommended to go early).
This ramen is also. like the tantanmen, a limited edition only available on sometimes. Compared to tantanmen, the number of curry ramen available is even more limited.
The curry making at Menya Sanda starts with cooking the spices, which are then rested for two weeks before the actual curry-making. When you get a bowl of curry ramen at this restaurant, you are hit by the fragrance, which while strong, will make your appetite even stronger.
When you start eating this ramen, you’re sure to be surprised by the great fragrance. As expected from a chef who is very particular about what kind of spices he uses in his ramen, the taste of the spices is complex and gives a lot of umami to the ramen. But, the base of this curry ramen is the tori paitan chicken stock, and it doesn’t lose at all to the taste of the spices, but it goes very well together with the spices, which then double (maybe even triple) the umami of the chicken soup.
This ramen is something you can only find at Menya Sanda, and it’s the best choice for someone who wants something a bit different.