Lunch at Iida Shouten (らぁ麺屋 飯田商店)

Lunch at Iida Shouten (らぁ麺屋 飯田商店)

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Embarking on a culinary pilgrimage from Tokyo, I found myself at the doorstep of Iida Shouten, a revered establishment nestled in the scenic locale of Yugawara, Kanagawa. Famed as a "Holy Land of Ramen," its storied reputation, crafted by a community of passionate enthusiasts and decorated by industry accolades, speaks volumes. Under the stewardship of Shuichi Iida, this ramen shop has etched itself as a sanctuary for those in pursuit of an unparalleled ramen experience. With an unwavering commitment to quality, underscored by the use of water purified through a reverse osmosis membrane system and a staunch policy against chemical seasonings, Iida Shouten stands as a testament to culinary excellence.

During my visit, I had the distinct pleasure of savoring their Shio Chashu Men, a salt-based ramen, adorned with meticulously chosen toppings: one wonton each of pure Kinkawacha pork and Sansui free-range chicken, complemented by a slice each of loin and belly from either Kirishima Plateau pure black pork or TOKYO X. This selection not only promised a rich tapestry of flavors but also highlighted Iida Shouten's relentless pursuit of perfection in ramen craft.

The foundation of this gastronomic masterpiece was the broth—a masterful concoction of chicken and pork, lending a profound depth of flavor that caressed the palate with its complexity. The salt tare, crafted from a blend of salts from the Kiribas Republic’s Christmas Island and various Japanese locales, infused with a rich kelp and scallop dashi, provided a subtle yet impactful layer of taste, enhancing the broth's inherent qualities.

The noodles, testament to Iida Shouten's dedication to the craft, were a blend of select domestically produced wheats, yielding a texture that was at once firm and yielding, adeptly capturing the broth's essence. The char siu, irrespective of being Kirishima Plateau pure black pork or TOKYO X, was impeccably tender, dissolving upon the tongue with each savory bite. The wontons—delicate bundles of pure Kinkawacha pork and Sansui free-range chicken—unveiled a flavor so vibrant, it elevated the ramen to new heights.

Consuming this ramen was nothing short of a revelation, a culinary odyssey that justified the journey from Tokyo. Every spoonful of broth, each morsel of noodle and topping, served as a testament to the art and passion embedded in the creation of the ultimate bowl of ramen. It was more than a mere meal; it was a homage to tradition, craftsmanship, and an unyielding quest for excellence. Iida Shouten's Shio Chashu Men was unequivocally the finest ramen of my life, a memorable experience that will resonate within my culinary soul for eternity.

8 / 10