When the fine people at Tonchin Ramen started out in the Ikebukuro area of Tokyo in 1992, they wanted to create a Tokyo tonkotsu ramen that was fresh, extremely tasty, and diligently prepared. They were successful.
Tonchin might be a relatively small ramen chain, but they don’t mess around. Rich shoyu (soy sauce) is used to draw out the umami flavors from a carefully nurtured tonkotsu (pork bone) broth. This broth is again brewed with pork, chicken and vegetables that have simmered for a considerable amount of time. The end result is an immensely creamy, delicious broth.
This creamy broth is sure to be a hit with tourists, who may crave something heavier than traditional Japanese offerings. Also, Tonchin’s wavy Chinese egg noodles are handmade.
Tonchin has 2 branches on their home turf of Ikebukuro, but also branches in busy areas like Shinjuku and Omiya, Saitama. Pictured here is their Kawasaki branch. Kawasaki is in Kanagawa Prefecture, just south of Tokyo. Under a slightly different brand, the company also has branches in Taiwan and China.
On their Kawasaki branch vending machine, the Tokyo tonkotsu ramen pictured above is found in the upper left hand corner. For 680 Yen you get can get a Large, Medium, or Regular portion of noodles (大 or 中 or 並). The server will likely ask how you want your noodles done too. I personally like them right in the middle on the firmness scale. If you want the same, say “futsu”, which means “normal” in Japanese.
Zooming out, the layout of the vending machine is simple. Ramen is on the left hand side and Tsukemen on the right. With Tsukemen, noodles are separate from the broth. Below Tokyo Tonkotsu broth at the top of the vending machine (RED) is a Fishier Pork based broth (GREEN) and directly below that a Miso broth (YELLOW).
I thought to change things up and ordered the Fishier Pork Tsukemen (RIGHT, GREEN). It’s certainly fishy in smell…as soon as it’s plopped down in front of you, you feel like you’re at the docks. Despite this, the broth is like nothing I’ve ever tasted before. It’s salty, creamy, sweet and sour at the same time. Its sweetness is most apparent when you drink the soup by itself. This dish is worth eating, if you have room.
Venture to Tonchin if you seek deliciously creamy Tokyo Tonkotsu Ramen. Or if you like the smell of the ocean. For any of Tonchin’s branches, you’d better arrive early…by 12:15 pm there was a big line of people waiting in Kawasaki.
In Kawasaki, the restaurant is in a shopping mall very close to Kawasaki station. The mall’s entrance is in between Starbucks on the right and McDonald’s on the left.
Train Station: Kawasaki (Keihin-Tohoku, Tokaido Main, Nambu Lines)
Shop Hours: 11:00～22:00 (Beasts, No Holidays)
Train Station: Shinjuku (Plenty of Lines)
Shop Hours: 11:00～4:00 (Beasts, No Holidays)
In November 2017, Tonchin opened up a shop in NYC (13 W 36th St)! More info on their official website: LINK