Ichijyoji in Kyoto City’s Sakyo Ward is a nationally renowned ramen battleground. While traditional stores such as Tentenyu Honten, Chuka Soba Takayasu, and Chinyu are still in business, newcomer stores are coming in one after another to compete with them.
The store introduced here is a relatively new ramen shop established in 2011. It has become so famous that it is now the place to go when talking about thick ramen in Ichijyoji. The name has become so famous that it is even known in major cities such as Tokyo and Osaka….
Menya Gokkei｜A ramen restaurant with ultra-thick chicken soup that stands out in the fierce nationwide battleground of Ichijyoji
Heading west from Ichijoji Station, turn right on what is commonly known as “Ramen Street” and walk north for a short distance to find Menya Gokkei. The owner, Koichi Imae, trained for 12 years at the long-established ramen restaurant Tanpopo in Kita-ku, Kyoto, before opening his own store in Ichijyoji. Recently, he has been actively challenging new fields, including a tie-up with Toyo Suisan to make cup ramen.
I first visited Menya Gokkei on a weekday evening when the sun was slightly shading. There were several customers waiting in line outside the restaurant, but the turnover was quick and the waiting time was only a few minutes.
In the past, the restaurant was covered on TV and there was a huge line and numbered tickets were distributed, but now the boom seems to have passed and the line has slowed down. The restaurant is open all day, so it is relatively empty around 3:00 p.m. after lunch time.
When you enter the restaurant, there is a kitchen and five seats at the counter immediately to the right, and two tables for four in the back. Somehow, I get the impression that the layout is the same as that of the restaurant that used to operate before Gokkei. The walls are bare concrete, and there is a large refrigerator on the seating area, perhaps because the kitchen is small…it gives the impression of being very simple or even careless. It seems to me that the restaurant does not spend money on unnecessary things, and instead focuses on the taste of the food! I guess that’s what they are trying to say.
Four unique menus based on the registered trademark “Tori Daku”…which one is your favorite?
Gokkei’s menu is based on the ultra-thick chicken soup “Tori Daku” (registered trademark). Here, we add
- Aka Daku with red chili peppers added
- Kuro Daku with black chili oil
- Gyo Daku with fish powder sprinkled on top
(large portions are available for +100 yen each), and additional amounts of boiled egg, pork, bamboo shoots, and green onions can be added for an extra charge. Free refills of rice and egg on rice can be added as a side menu item.
Tori Daku: Chicken soup is so rich! The special thick noodles floating in the chicken broth is so thick that it feels more like eating pasta than ramen!
This time, I ordered Tori Daku, a basic menu item at Kyokudori. The ramen arrived rather quickly after I got to the counter. Here is a picture…
The soup, which you can tell is sludgy just by looking at it, is topped with yellow medium noodles, thick chashu pork, bamboo shoots, and white scallions. Some people call this soup “Tenka Ippin-inspired,” but it clearly surpasses Tenka Ippin’s soup in terms of the degree of sludge. Furthermore, looking at the noodles, they are not at all coated with the broth. It looks like a yellow island floating in a sea of soup.
As you can see, the thickness of the menma is about three times thicker than typical. If they were not this thick, they would lose out to the impact of the soup. Incidentally, the chashu pork is also thick.
Now, how to eat it…you must first use a bamboo whisk and chopsticks to thoroughly mix the soup and noodles, just as you would do when eating mazesoba. It is something like eating pasta rather than ramen.
However, the soup is so thick that it is difficult to get the noodles to mix with the soup as desired. I spent 1-2 minutes to get the soup evenly entangled in the noodles…
Finally, I ate it when it looked like this. In the process of stirring, the chashu pork and bamboo shoots were buried in the bowl.
As already written on review sites such as food logs and Gurunavi, the soup has a surprisingly refreshing taste, contrary to its sticky and thick appearance. The mild flavor of chicken is very smooth. However, the calorie content seems to be quite high.
On the other hand, the noodles made by “Menya Teigaku”, a famous noodle factory in Kyoto, are boiled hard and have a firm texture to compete with the presence of the soup.
While slowly feeling the chicken flavor and the crunchiness of the noodles in my mouth, I was heading straight for the finish of the meal step by step. The extra soup left over after eating up the noodles is scooped into the mouth with a bamboo whisk… Truly, this soup is not a drink, but food. It is so sludgy that if you try to drink it by putting your mouth on the bowl as usual, you will surely fail.
Aka Daku: Another signature dish of Menya Gokkei, which has also become Maruchan’s cup noodle.
Did you know that Maruchan (Toyo Suisan) once made a cup noodle version of the chicken soup I mentioned above? The name “Menya Gokkei” is now well known not only in Kyoto but also in the whole country.
And then there is Menya Gokkei’s Aka Daku, which was also made into cup noodles like Tori Daku. On a certain day in October, the second time I visited the restaurant, I decided to have the Aka Daku (800 yen)…
As you can see, the soup is covered with a layer of coarsely ground red chili peppers. From the center of the red chili peppers, there are noodles with finely sliced green onions, but as usual, they are not at all intertwined with the soup….
First, mix them thoroughly and let the soup blend into the noodles. Once thoroughly mixed, the spiciness of the chili pepper is diluted by the chicken broth, so it is not as spicy as I had imagined, and I felt it was easy to eat. The spiciness of the chili pepper is diluted by the chicken broth, so it is not as spicy as I had imagined, and it is easy to eat.
Some people seem to find this reddish soup “bad,” but I personally prefer it to the chicken soup. I am sure that the taste of black soup and fish soup will be improved for the same reason.
Now, let’s take a look at the other two types of ramen.
Kuro Daku: A hint of garlic flavor with a dash of mar oil… If you like garlic, I recommend adding grated garlic!
First, “Kuro Daku” is a chicken soup with a drizzle of black garlic oil. The aroma of garlic wafts from the bowl…
The sloppy chicken soup, as usual, with black garlic oil is beautiful…but I can’t eat it as it is, so I cry and decide to mix everything together.
(Crying) I personally think that it would be better if the garlic were more effective, though I can still taste a slight garlic flavor. I did not notice the presence of grated garlic this time, but it seems that the restaurant also has grated garlic. If you like garlic and don’t have to worry about the smell, I recommend adding additional grated garlic.
Gyo Daku: The addition of fish powder adds depth to the chicken’s one-sided flavor… a well-balanced taste that will keep you coming back for more until the very end.
And last but not least, I would like to introduce you to the fish soup topped with chicken stock….
As with the other three types, the noodles and broth are first thoroughly blended. In this process, make sure to spread the fishmeal to every corner of the bowl…
After mixing for about 3 minutes, I finally ate it. The fishmeal has a nice effect, adding depth to the chicken flavor. I had the impression that there was not enough garlic oil in the black soup, but the amount of fishmeal in the fish soup is just right.
This is a good change of pace when you get tired of the rich chicken flavor of the Tori Daku. The chicken and fish flavors are well balanced, and you can eat it all the way through without feeling bored.
Tamago Kake Gohan: Crumbled pork and a special dashi soy sauce to savor… a light and soothing presence surrounded by the thick ramen.
This is tamagokake gohan (rice with egg), which is a little cheaper if ordered as a set with ramen (+200 yen for ramen). As shown in the image below, a raw egg and crumbled chashu pork are served on a bowl of white rice with a hollow in the center…
A raw egg is cracked so that the yolk sits in the hollow in the center, and crumbled pork is scattered around it…
Pour the special dashi soy sauce provided at the table over the rice and stir….
To be honest, the eggs and rice are not made with any special brand, and seem to be very ordinary tamagokake gohanke rice. However, it is also true that this tamago-kake gohan is one of the most popular dishes at Kyokudori. Personally, I think that the lightness of the tamagokakegohan is probably what people are looking for as a chopstick rest for the rich, thick chicken soup.
Incidentally, there is also this review about Menya Gokkei on the Internet…
Kyoto’s best super thick chicken ramen…access to Menya Gokkei is a 5 minute walk from the nearest station, Ichijyoji Station on the Eizan Electric Railway.
Now, here are the details of the restaurant…
Address：29-7 Ichijyoji Nishijikigawara-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Business hours：11:30-22:00 (closes when soup is gone)
Parking: Not available (use nearby parking lots)
Credit card payment: Not accepted (meal ticket system)
There is no parking space for bicycles or motorcycles at the store, so we recommend using public transportation such as buses. From Shijo Kawaramachi, there are several buses heading toward Ichijyoji via Jingu Marutamachi and Okazaki.
P.S. If you are looking for delicious ramen in Kyoto, please stop by this article below…
P.P.S. In neighboring Nara Prefecture, there is a famous restaurant that serves ramen with a consistency that far surpasses the soup at Menya Kyokudori…