Teuchishiki Chuutakansuimen Nonokura (手打式超多加水麺 ののくら); Mom and Pop Ramen, Kameari
In December of 2017, a young couple opened a ramen restaurant in the highly competitive district of Kameari, Tokyo to serve up their rendition of Shoyu and Shio Chuuka Soba. As with most ramen restaurants they wanted to make themselves stand out and they have done just that creating amazing, homemade noodles to pair with their incredibly decadent soup. Now a days you can find them churning out hundreds of pounds of noodles from their front window before coming in to try their delicious bowl of ramen. Teuchishiki Chuutakansuimen Nonokura is one of my finalists for this year’s Rookie of the Year and I can’t wait to see how it evolves from here.
As you approach the shop front you’ll notice that it still gives you the old school ramen shop vibe. The rolling wood and glass door welcome you in, but not before entertaining you with their noodle making machine through its front windows. If you come during off restaurant hours, you can sometimes catch the chef in action, kneading and rolling his dough through the machine. Once inside, you’ll find yourself transported to a chic, cafe style restaurant. The blue colors highlight the wooden counter which sits right in front of the kitchen. The husband stands in the rear preparing each bowl of ramen while the wife will take your tickets and hand you your bowl. The menu is quite simple here, they offer both Shio and Shoyu varieties of their Chuuka Soba with varying toppings. You can order one with egg, with wonton, or Tokusei which comes with all of the extra fixins.
Pictured above is the Shio variety of their Tokusei Chuuka Soba. The Tokusei is topped with two slices of the pork char siu, one chicken char siu slice, menma bamboo shoots, a softboiled egg, seaweed, green onions and yuzu (for the shio only). The broth here is incredibly flavorful, drawing its flavor from a variety of chicken and dried fish selected by the chef. I love how clean the broth is, choosing more toward a cold soak to draw out the fish umami than a hard boil. Because of the delicate nature of the broth, the Shio tare works incredibly well as it helps accentuate the fish umami of the broth. Chicken broth gives the soup the fat needed to complete the bowl. The main attraction here, however, is the handmade noodles. The noodles are made using a secret blend of Kansui, salt, flour, and water producing an amazingly chewy texture and perfectly matched flavor for the soup. Noodles can sometimes be forgotten amidst the flavors of the soup and toppings, but I love that Nonokura prides themselves so much that they include their dedication to the noodle in their shop name (Chuutakansuimen is the style of noodles they serve here). The noodles are yellow, flat and wavy; a bit of an homage to old school Chuuka Soba shops. The color is an indication of the level of Kansui (sodium carbonate) mixed in with the noodles and helps give the noodles the old school Chuuka Soba flavor. The texture helps cling just enough of the soup so that each bite is just as good as the last. The chewiness pairs well with the char siu chicken and pork toppings giving it a nice protein and carbs combo.
The toppings here are also not to be slept on. The chicken slices are moist and tender, soaking up all the flavor of the soup. Nonokura prides themselves in not wasting ingredients and therefore use the chicken breast as topping. Chicken breasts, or white meat in general, can sometimes have a negative reputation for being hard and bland, but when cooked perfectly like at Nonokura, you’ll have no problems eating every last bite. The soft boiled egg is cooked to perfection with a slightly alcoholic flavor to it, likely from a sake marinade. The won tons are filled perfectly like a tender, meat pillow. Filled with some minced pork, it floats a top the soup and makes for a perfect pairing with the chewy noodles. The roast pork slices are cooked to a rosy, pink color with a bit of braise around the outside.
The Shoyu Chuuka Soba is more reminiscent of an old school, typical Chuuka Soba. The bowl was nostalgic and took me back to when I was 5-6 years old, eating a bowl of ramen at a local, neighborhood Chinese restaurant by my house. The noodles hold up well to the rich flavor of the Shoyu. The Shoyu tare is not, however, so rich that it masks the umami of the broth. Both chicken and seafood broth hold up and blends well with the tare. The chicken and pork slices get a nice flavor boost from the shoyu tare as well as the won ton which are hidden behind the char siu slices. The little mitsuba leaf top the bowl and gives a nice herb flavor to the ramen.
Even though the restaurant has only been open for less than a year, Nonokura has already become a favorite even within the competitive district of Kameari. They have a lot of competition here with world famous Tsukemen Michi located just on the other side of the station. However, their intense dedication to creating their delicious noodle has not gone unnoticed and have helped them gain and maintain a nice following. If you’re ever in Kameari, check out this young couple. I’m sure they’ll blow you away with their noodles as they have with many others.