Chichibu is about two hours away from Tokyo by train. It is a popular tourist destination beyond the mountainous area of Kanto; a completely different world rich in nature. The water is beautiful and Chichibu is famous for soba, but there are actually many attractive ramen shops, too. Some of the ramen shops are so unique and found only in Chichibu that selecting only three was really difficult!
In the end, I selected three that I personally like based on my own experiences. I eat about 350 bowls of ramen a year and to date have eaten more than 7,000 bowls having sampled ramen in each of the 47 prefectures in Japan. I hope you’ll read on to see what I discovered.
Shokutei Etsurakuen: SNS and Internet Sensation! The portions will blow you away!
Shokutei Etsurakuen is located at the foot of Chichibu's Hitsujiyama Park, famous for its moss phlox that bursts into bloom in spring. The shop sits along National Route 299. It got its start first as a food stall almost 40 years ago.
Frequent customers are truckers and local high school students on athletic teams. They all come here because they know that they won’t leave hungry as the master prepares dishes aimed to please anyone who has a healthy appetite.
It is the enormous portions of the dishes served that has led to the shop gaining attention on SNS and the Internet, the Dekamori Miso Ramen in particular!
Miso Ramen 1,000 yen + Omori [extra-large portion] 100 yen (including tax). It contains 2 kg of bean sprouts and the weight of the entire bowl is 4 kg! The standard miso ramen costs 600 yen (including tax) and is in itself a large serving, but the Omori far exceeded even what I had imagined.
Contrary to what I had expected the noodles were of the thin type. They are made locally by Sekita Shokuhin.
For an additional 100 yen you get an omori portion which has twice as many noodles and a whopping topping of vegetables to boot!
And on top of that, there were 5 thick slices of chashu, everything combining to make the fish cakes appear tiny (lol)
When you order the omori (extra-large portion) you get an extra bowl of soup on the side as shown in the photo.
These dishes are not just huge, but it is obvious that much attention is given to their preparation, too. The miso added to the chicken bones soup is homemade.
I also ordered the Katsu-ju, which is waraji katsu [pork cutlet as big as a straw sandal] that has been dipped in sauce and which is another local dish popular in Chichibu. This can also be ordered as omori.
And as you can see, it definitely is large! The lid ended up riding on top (lol). To my delight, not only the portion of rice, but also the cutlets were omori size!
The three waraji katsu are cut up before they are served to make them easier to eat. The spicy sweet sauce really goes well with the cutlets making this a dish that you can really dig into.
Master Yamamoto has created an impressive menu of omori dishes especially for customers with hearty appetites. If you think you’ve got what it takes to put down one of these omori dishes, then by all means you should definitely come here.
But, if you’re not such a hearty eater, there are items other than omori dishes on the menu which are also highly recommended. Bon appetite!
Shokutei Etsurakuen食亭 悦楽苑
- Address 4324-2 Yokoze, Yokoze-machi, Chichibu-gun, Saitama Prefecture
Access: 10-minute walk from Seibu Chichibu Line Yokoze Station; 20-minute walk from Chichibu Railway Chichibu Station
- Phone Number 0494-24-4023
Open: 11:00 a.m. ~ 9:00 p.m.
Oga: Offering the only dandan noodles in the Minano-Chichibu area! Loved by locals for its brilliant originality
The second shop I visited was Oga, a shop in Minano popular for its excellent sense.
In the past the shop was famous for its ramen that used noodles from Shirakawa, Fukushima Prefecture, but now it uses mostly local ingredients to create highly original ramen dishes that have become very popular. This shop has deep roots in the local community and is loved by regular customers of all ages and gender.
It is also noted for its development of many new types of ramen and also for taking up the challenge to make the "Strongest Next-generation Ramen" in a special ramen collection project sponsored by Yahoo! JAPAN.
I ordered the sublime tomato dandan noodles which placed high in the Strongest Next-generation Ramen Challenge I just mentioned.
The soup has a bold flavor all its own due to the spicy inclusion of chili oil and Chinese sesame paste. The key to producing this flavorful soup is to add egg while combining sauce with garlic in an iron pan and slowly simmering it at a low temperature.
Cooking it over a low fire brings out the spiciness and aroma. The result is a medium-thick soup that is light and gentle on the palate.
For the noodles you have a choice of either thick (3 mm) or thin (2 mm) noodles made by Kanezin. I selected the thin ones. The sweet and tart flavor of the tomatoes brought out the flavor of the soup resulting in a delicious bowl.
The menu also includes many other innovative ramen dishes created by the shop owner Mr. Nakamura. Through the fusion of various elements, his cuisine is constantly evolving and each dish has its own unique character. I felt that it is his creations being one of a kind and not found anywhere else that sets Oga apart from other ramen shops.
I also recommend the gyoza.
This is handmade and crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside. I recommend eating it with the black pepper vinegar sauce which is a shop original.
The gyoza goes well with whatever you order and can stand alone well, too, which makes it something you really must try.
In addition to counter and table seating, there is also a raised seating area and the shop has an at-home atmosphere. The interior reflects the excellent sense of the shop owner’s wife who designed it.
When leaving this stylish shop with its warm atmosphere created by Mr. and Mrs. Nakamura and their staff, I could see why it is so loved by its many customers.
I strongly felt that this shop definitely is making a strong contribution to the growth of Japanese ramen together along with its loyal clientele.
- Address 1337-5, Shimotano, Chichibu Gun Minano Machi, Saitama Ken, 369-1413, Japan
Access: 20 minutes on foot from Chichibu Railway Oyahana Station; 5 minutes by car from Minano Yorii Toll Road Minano Nagatoro IC
- Phone Number 0494-62-3036
Hours of operation: 11:30 a.m. ~ 2:00 p.m., 5:30 p.m. ~ 9:00 p.m.
Chintatsu Soba: This writer’s Number 1 Pick in Chichibu City!
This was the second time for me to visit Chintatsu Soba.
You may think it odd that after only two visits I can unequivocally say that if you go to Chichibu, then this is the shop you really must visit.
The location is in a prime location very close to the Chichibu Railway Ohanabatake Station and in front of the Chichibu City Hall. The climax of the Chichibu Night Festival, a float festival which is counted as one of Japan’s three largest, reaches its climax at the top of Dangozaka.
On the signboard and above the counter is the slogan "Chintatsu Soba is famous in the Kanto Koshin-etsu region". It gives you a sense of the enthusiasm exhibited by the founder.
Today, almost 60 years since its establishment, the third-generation shop owner runs the show.
Since the third generation took over, the pork used in the ramen is entirely domestically produced. The delicious flavor of the meat has given the soup even greater flavor.
It shows the willingness of the owner to not be afraid to innovate in spite of the shop being famous.
Great attention is also given to the leek used in the topping. Currently not only is Fukaya leek used, but also summer leek produced in Honjo. Only local food products produced in Saitama are used.
In addition, the sesame oil that covers the top of the soup has a fragrance that makes this ramen really stand out.
What do you think? This bowl certainly doesn’t look like your typical bowl of ramen. If you visit Chichibu then you really must try this one-of-a-kind ramen! I hope foreign visitors to Japan visiting Nikko will be able to come and experience this great ramen.
- Address 23-4 Higashi-machi, Chichibu City, Saitama Prefecture
Access: 5-minute walk from Seibu Chichibu Line Chichibu Station; 3-minute walk from Chichibu Railway Ohanabatake Station
- Phone Number 0494-22-1571
Open: Weekdays 11:00 a.m. ~ 4:00 p.m.
Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays 11:00 a.m. ~ 7:00 p.m. (Or until sold out)
Name: Taku Kimura
Publisher, ramen writer. As the editor-in-chief, produced over 20 volumes of the latest ramen book series by Hayato Ishiyama, plus several other curry and gourmet books.
Eats 350 bowls of ramen per year. Has sampled all 47 prefectures.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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