Hokkori Chuka Soba Motsuke (ほっこり中華そば もつけ); Hachioji Tantanmen. Hachioji
In a quaint little ramen shop just seven minutes from Hachioji station sits Hokkori Chuka Soba Motsuke, a mom and pop shop known for serving up incredible Shoyu Ramen, Tantanmen, and some specialty seasonal items. Motsuke will be the start of a series of ramen restaurants I visited in Hachioji and its neighboring areas and while I wish I was able to try everything on their menu, I decided to spread my Hachioji ramen out and this will focus on their famous Tantanmen. The shop itself is located on the south side of the JR Hachioji station which is about a 45 minute ride on the Chuo Express from Shinjuku. When you step out of the station, take a right towards the main road and head south until you see a line. Motsuke is open Tuesday-Friday from 11:30-14:30 for lunch and 17:30-21:00 for dinners. On weekends and holidays, the shop is open from 11:30 until they run out of soup. Typically, Motsuke will run out of soup by 15:00 on weekends, so plan your schedules accordingly.
The menu here is quite simple, but they do not provide an English menu so hopefully you have wifi to visit this review, or can jot this down for your trip to Motsuke. Starting from the left column down is the Chuka Soba (750 yen), Ajitama Chuka Soba (800 yen), Yaki Buta Chuka Soba (900 yen), Won Ton Chuka Soba (900 yen), Tokusei Chuka Soba (1000 yen), and Oomori extra noodles (100 yen). On the right column is the Tantanmen (800 yen), Half a Bowl of Rice (100 yen), Half Boiled Egg over Rice (150 yen), Roast Pork over Rice (300 yen), Tsukemen (850 yen) and Kaedama extra noodles (100 yen). The seasonal menu changes weekly and is listed on the side near the counter. If you would like the seasonal menu, just like the chef know and he’ll direct you to buy the appropriate button based on how much the menu item for the day is (anywhere from 800-900 yen and he’ll just ask you to purchase a ticket with the corresponding price). On this particular visit I opted for the Tantanmen as I was a bit full from a previous ramen shop visit and I didn’t think i could stomach extra toppings. After purchasing my ticket, a staff member directed me to my seat where I handed my ticket to the chef. I was asked how spicy I would like it and warned me that the regular is quite spicy. As I am pretty good at handling heat, I asked for extra spicy. If you want regular spicy tell the chef “futsuu”. For extra spicy, tell him “karame” and for a little less spicy, “sukuname”.
It didn’t take long for my beautiful Tantanmen to arrive once I told the chef the spice level, although this may have been because I arrived at the shop 30 minutes early in the pouring rain so the owner let me in about 20 minutes early. Given that I was the only customer in the shop until I finished, service was incredibly speedy. However, once I did leave at around the opening hour, the shop had filled to its capacity with a couple people waiting in the rain outside. Anyways, back to the tantanmen. As you might be able to see, my bowl was topped with a generous scoop of their spicy miso pork saute, a bit of blanched mustard leaves, and chopped scallions. The red contrast to the sesame brown soup is the hot chili oil they put to spice up your bowl. As I asked for extra, I have a fair bit more than a regular bowl. The soup here is quite thick and creamy. There is a lot of the sesame seed paste emulsified in to the soup making it quite a nutty ramen. The broth itself is the same as the ramen and has a nice depth to it. Obviously, the sesame seed paste and the chili oil masks the most impactful flavors you might taste with their ramen, but you can definitely still appreciate the umami pulled from the niboshi in the broth. There was a fair bit of Sansho, Japanese peppercorn, mixed in to the soup which gets further accentuated when you mix the pork saute in to the bowl. It is quite nice and gives a peppery spice to the bowl.
As you can see from the photos, two types of noodles are used at Motsuke. One is the traditional, Chinese egg noodles which are medium thickness and chewy. I really enjoyed the egg noodles as it stood up well to the thick soup and brought a good flavor pairing to the soup. The thin noodles are more like flattened won ton wrapping. It is a bit soft for my liking, but I did find it pleasant having multiple types of noodles in my tantanmen, allowing me to taste the soup in a variety of different ways. The spicy miso pork was fantastic, adding a nice fond flavor.
All in all, I thought the Tantanmen here was way above average. I wouldn’t necessarily travel all the way to Hachioji just to have a bowl from Motsuke, but as you’ll see, there are plenty of other ramen shops in the area you can visit while you’re here. Hachioji is quite a bit of a way from Shinjuku so you may want to pair your trip with some sight seeing around the area. Hachioji has a lot of temples and parks to visit as well as a huge shopping mall you can visit. If you end up coming be sure to let me know on Instagram, Facebook or twitter what you thought of the ramen!