Austin - In every major city that I had visited, there seems to be a Japanese restaurant where people are willing to line up for the best food in town. Like Kazu that we have in Montreal, there is Ramen Tatsu-ya in Austin. The moment I got out of the airport, I went straight to this ramen shop. I can say this is the best ramen that I ever had. This is nothing compare to the ones that I had in Montreal. Their specialty is the tonkotsu ramen. The broth is made purely of pork bones simmered for a very long time to give a simple rich white broth. It is garnished with ajitama egg that has a gelatinous and flavourful egg yolk, succulent chashu, and some crisp wood ear mushrooms.
As appetizer, the brussel sprouts are nicely charred to give its unique flavour, drowned in a sweet and tangy apricot vinaigrette with a hint of curry. To end the meal, I couldn't resist ordering the $2 dessert - almond-flavoured tofu with candied orange peel and julienned green apples. A refreshing and palate cleansing dessert to end the meal.
During my one-week stay in Austin, I bumped into the front-of-the-house staff Patrick twice - once at Uchiko, and the other time was when I was heading towards East Side King on 6th street. I was introduced to the staffs of Tatsu-ya, and met the director of operations, Shion. Before coming to Austin, I watched an episode of Munchies to have a good idea of the best eats in the city in which they were featured. I never expected to have beer and fried chicken with the superstars of Austin's food scene at The Grackles.
I went back to Ramen Tatsu-ya on my last day to try out their tsukemen - it's my first experience eating ramen in this form. The broth and the noodles come in two separate bowls. I ordered some extra toppings to complement my ramen: menma (marinated bamboo shoots) and naruto maki (swirly fish cakes). The idea of the tsukemen is to dip a small batch of noodles into the salty broth, and then start slurping. The broth is so flavourful and addictive that you keep on dipping noodles and slurp very quickly. A squeeze of lime was added after I ate 1/3 of the noodles as recommended by the staffs. It gives a fragrant and fresh taste to the ramen. The cocopioca was also a refreshing dessert. My only complaint is that there is not enough coconut-infused tapioca to compensate the generous portions of the sweet and tart braised strawberries.
It's weird to say this, if you do visit Ramen Tatsu-ya, check out both of their restroom. It's a piece of art. You can have a glance of their art pieces in this blog post.
|#1 Tonkotsu Original - Creamy Pork Noodle Soup with Chashu, Ajitama Egg, Wood Ear Mushroom and Scallions|
|Sweet and Sour Yodas - Fried Brussel Sprouts in Apricot Vinegar and Curry Spice|
|Almond Tofu with Ginger Lemongrass Syrup, Candied Orange Peel and Julienned Green Apples|
|#5 Tsukemen - Dipping Ramen with Chashu, Ajitama Egg, Nori with extra Naruto Maki and Menma|
|Cocopioca - Coconut Milk-infused Tapioca, Braised Strawberries, Black Pepper, Cilantro, Lemon Zest, and Sesame Sugar Rock|
8557 Research Blvd #126