Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tasty Kyoto Ramen: Chuka Soba no Ten Chiifu

So, for our very last meal in Japan, we had only about 1.5 hours left before our transportation to Kansai Airport arrived. We had to grab something quick, near our hotel, and so we left our final meal to fate: I walked out the back entrance from our hotel and started walking along the small back alley streets hoping to find something tasty and interesting. (^_^;

Literally just around the corner from the back entrance from Kyoto Kokusai Hotel and ANA Hotel in Nijojo, we stumbled upon a little Ramen shop that had a low-key, locals-only vibe and simple decor. The place was also *packed* with people, so we figured it couldn't be all bad, right? The restaurant was known as "Chuka Soba no Ten Chiifu." I was excited to try out *Kyoto* Ramen, or at least what ramen tasted like in Kyoto, whatever the style. :)

It was a small place, seating maybe only ~10-12 people at the most. When we got an opening, we sat down and ordered. One thing that struck me as unique immediately was that they served *Beef* Ramen! I've never seen that before, but there was a first for everything. I ordered the Pork Ramen with a Mini-Gyu-Don (Mini-Beef Bowl) (since this seemed like a specialty of theirs), and my friend ordered the Beef Ramen.

Within minutes our orders were ready. Here's the Beef Ramen that my tomodachi ordered:

Here's my Pork Ramen. I was floored by how much Pork Chashu they added in (O_o):

I let it cool for a second and took a bite: It turned out to be a tasty Shoyu (Soy Sauce)-based broth, but with some long-stewed pork flavors combined in as well. The broth was definitely not the standard Shoyu-based broth, but something deeper and more complex.

The pieces of Pork Chashu were a little overcooked, but tasty when combined with the broth and bean sprouts and negi.

The ramen noodles themselves were adequate, nothing great, but not bad either. But the broth really made a difference.

The Mini-Gyu-Don (Mini Beef Bowl) looked to be the same cut of Beef as what was in their Beef Ramen:

The beef was cooked to well-done so it was a little tough at times. The flavor and seasoning in the beef was good, but the actual beef was Ok. It was much better than what we can get back in the U.S. at say, Yoshinoya Beef Bowl, but nothing to get excited over otherwise.

Overall Chuka Soba no Ten Chiifu (or Chiifu for short) provided a good farewell to Japan as our last meal. It wasn't amazing, but it was a tasty, unique Shoyu-based Ramen experience, and a chance to try some kind of ramen in Kyoto. My total was 900 Yen (~$9 U.S.) for a huge bowl of Pork Ramen and a Mini-Beef Bowl (it was too much food for me), which was a great value (i.e., next time I'd order just the Pork Ramen by itself and I'd be full). While it may sound like it wasn't "absolutely amazing," it was solid. What's sad was that this Shoyu-based Ramen in Kyoto at Chiifu was already far better than any Shoyu Ramen I've eaten in L.A., so it was definitely a victory in terms of food experiences for me. Next time I'm back in Kyoto, I'll have to try out this tiny little Ramen shop off of Kiyomachi that looked even more "locals only." (^_~)

Rating: 7.1 (out of 10.0)

Chuka Soba no Ten Chiifu
中華そばの店 ちいふ
Tel: 075-211-2054

Closed on Sundays.

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