(Formatted w/ Pictures version found here:
We had been on a small streak of somewhat disappointing meals (the previous day's lunch and dinner), but I was determined to break that streak, and try out some of the great, little-known restaurants, thanks to Chowhounder Silverjay, kamiosaki and others. Having tried out a basic Japanese Ramen chain earlier in the week (and having that surpass all the Ramen I've had back home in L.A.), I wasn't sure how much better it could get. We set out after the morning visit to Asakusa to find Menya Kissou, located somewhere in Koto-ku.
We arrived in Koto-ku, nervous and excited. Thanks to Silverjay's advice, I learned that Menya Kissou is THE #1 Rated Ramen Shop on Ramendb (Ramen Database - a website driven by an *entire nation* of Ramen Fanatics, giving a pretty good picture of what might be good (^_~)), and simultaneously the #1 Rated Ramen Shop on Tabelog (another great customer-driven Food Site in Japan, with great, detailed ratings and reviews).
After walking around the quaint, quiet Japanese neighborhood where Menya Kissou was supposed to be, we turned a corner into (literally) a tiny back alley and saw a line of people. Bingo! We found it.
We arrived early (pre-lunch), around ~11:15 a.m., and in this tiny back alley, in a quiet neighborhood in Koto District, the Ramen shop was already full, and there was a line of ~13-15 people outside! This wasn't some over-popular district like Shibuya or Roppongi, either. Just a small, quiet neighborhood. Upon closer inspection, this Ramen-ya's Business Hours sign was just as impressive: They are open *only* 3.5 hours per day (for lunch), and will close shop even earlier when they run out of their Noodles or Soup! Wow.
Their simple menu belies the greatness within:
On their menu, they serve the popular Tsukemen (dipping-style Ramen popular in Tokyo), as well as having the traditional Ramen and ingredients all in the same bowl. They had a variety of *seemingly* standard toppings (Egg, Nori Seaweed, Chashu, etc.). Menya Kissou seems to be a simple husband and wife operation, with the wife handling all the orders, cash register and clean-up. She took our order prior to us being seated inside. After a little bit of a wait (we didn't mind), we were seated and waited for our order. My Tsukemen arrived a few minutes later:
I ordered it with their Hanjyukku Egg, Nori, and Chashu toppings. By the way, unless you are a *really* hearty eater, I would advise against ordering the Omori (Large) size. It was gigantic, easily the same portion as ~2.5 - 3 bowls of Ramen noodles!
I took some of the handmade Ramen Noodles, dipped it into the fragrant, soul-warming Broth, and took a bite:
WOW. The Ramen noodles were definitely something handmade, having a *gorgeous* texture to them, firm yet supple, having body, yet also tender in many ways. It's sort of indescribable.
The Broth was an interesting, unique broth that paired nicely with the noodles and other toppings. Rich and complex, full of depth. And then the toppings...
Menya Kissou's homemade Pork Chashu is nothing short of ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! The slices of Pork were SO tender, SO succulent, SO flavorful, and SO fresh! Seriously, it tasted like they just finished stewing/cooking it just before serving it in my bowl. I suppose that's the high quality standard you get for only opening 3.5 hours per day. The Pork Chashu was better than all the Chinese-style Ti Pahng (Stewed "Pork Pump") I've had, and that's a fancier dish focused on tender, flavorful meat. Truly amazing.
And then I bit into the Hanjyukku Egg. Prior to this, I had a pretty good Hanjyukku ("flash-boiled"(?)) Egg, which is supposed to be cooked on the outside (like a hard-boiled egg), but have a soft, creamy yolk. But the Hanjyukku Tamago at Menya Kissou was seriously like NECTAR FROM THE GODS. The Egg was perfectly cooked, and the center yolk was like a Savory Nectar of Pure Goodness! I know no other way to describe it except that I've NEVER tasted an egg like this before! It didn't even taste like a soft-boiled chicken egg yolk (I've had plenty of those before), and nothing like Kabuki-cho's Ajisen Hanjyukku Tamago, either. It was mild, yet creamy and delicious! Simply mind-blowing.
Overall, it's easy to see why Menya Kissou has earned the #1 Ranking for Top Ramen Shop in all of Japan on Ramen Database, as well as Tabelog. From the gorgeous, amazing texture of their handmade noodles; the complex, flavorful broth; the super-tender, fresh Pork Chashu that blows away almost every other type of Pork I've ever had; and the Creamy Elixir that is their Hanjyukku Egg, this tiny bowl of Tsukemen equaled (if not surpassed) my meals earlier in the week at the Michelin 3 Star Sushi Mizutani and Michelin 2 Star Ryugin (in a different way). It was truly "Magic in a Bowl." (^_^) Menya Kissou served up the Best Ramen I've ever had in my life. Highly recommended!
*** Rating: 9.9 (out of a Perfect 10.0) ***
(Koto, Tokyo, Japan)
麺屋 吉左右（めんや きっそう）
(According to Tabelog, they are closed on Sundays, and the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month.)