Kanekatsu | らーめん かねかつ
Style: Shoyu w/ Chicken & Handmade Noodles
Bowl to Crush: Ramen + Ajitsuki Tamago (らーめん＋味付玉子)
Kanekatsu is a shop we had been hearing whispers about for a couple years, but due to its location in the quiet suburb of Kawaguchi, we neglected to make the trek for far too long. After it popped up in a local ramen mag, we decided to finally pull the trigger. It did not disappoint.
Getting to the shop from Kawaguchi station takes about 10 minutes on foot through a residential neighborhood. When we arrived there were two customers waiting outside. The master, Masaru Ootomo from Fukushima Prefecture, opens a small window and pops his head out to tell customers when a seat becomes available.
Once you get through the door you will be amazed by how cozy this spot is — just five seats around the counter. It's a very intimate atmosphere, with little space between master and customer — everyone has a front-row seat of Ootomo-san at work.
Ootomo-san worked at a noodle company called Maruyama Seimen in Oota-ku for three years. He later apprenticed for three years at Daishi, an excellent ramen shop in Ochanomizu, before opening his own place in 2013.
The menu includes shoyu ramen, miso ramen and a couple of gentei dishes. Although an elderly woman seated next to us was eating an amazing-looking bowl with a salmon and ikura topping, since it was our first visit, we felt obliged to try the first bowl on the menu, which is typically the "osusume," or house recommendation. In this case it was listed just as "ramen." We ran it past the master… first visit, go for the "ramen," right? He agreed.
After we had placed our order, the turned around and retreated to a nearby corner to work a hand-crank noodle machine. Whipping out a bag of dough, he proceeded to make a fresh batch of handmade teuchi temomi men. After adding some flour, giving it a kneed, he plopped it into the machine and cranks out some beautiful, thick strands. A pound and a squeeze for shape and texture, and into the boiling water they go. This is one of the very few Tokyo ramen shops that does made-to-order noodles.
Next, he gets to work on the bowl... Everything immaculately placed into the dish in this order: chiyu, shoyu tare, soup; steaming noodles; choice toppings — buta and tori chashu, bright green negi, and fresh bamboo shoot. Before the bowl was even placed before us, we knew this shop was a winner. First taste.... exploding with sweetness from the chiyu... fuck yes! The soup is a beautiful blend of chicken, pork, gyokai (no MSG). Kanekatsu can easily contend with Yamaguchi, Toy Box, Rage and any of the other elite Tori soba shops in the Tokyo area. One difference, however: handmade noodles here — thick, soulful with a really nice texture. Incredible noodles, incredible soup. Awesome toppings. Yes, Yes, and Yes.
Since April 2014, the shop name has changed on Mondays to become Tsukemen Kanekatsu, serving choice dipping noodles. They also serve an outstanding chashu-don. It were a little more central, its rating on Japanese food forums would undoubtedly be far higher. Kanekatsu is a true hidden gem.
Kanekatsu | らーめん かねかつ
Opening Hours: 11am-2:30pm, 6pm-9pm
Days Closed: Friday
2-14-23 Iizuka, Kawaguchi, Saitama
埼玉県 川口市 飯塚 2-14-23