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Manshu-ya in Matsuyama's Okaido

Manchurian ramen and gyoza shop

Walking up Matsuyama’s Okaido shopping arcade, I’ve often been attracted by the dark blue signboard and artfully retro appearance of a particular ramen shop, Manshu-ya. I confess that I was also curious about the shop’s prominent claims to be “No.1 in Japan” according to a certain unnamed TV program at a certain unspecified date in the past. Also ‘Manshu’, the Japanese name for Manchuria, a part of China that Japan once dominated, seems to hold out the promise of traditional deliciousness. So on this occasion, I dived in.

Customers are required to order by buying tickets from a machine which has pictures of the various options. Perhaps noticing my general slowness in choosing, the master came out from behind his counter and kindly explained the different types of ramen (in Japanese). I chose the simple tonkotsu ramen for 650 yen and a serving of gyoza for 350 yen.

The ramen arrived in a dark-colored bowl which contrasted attractively with the yellowish broth and noodles. Tonkotsu soup is made by boiling pork bones, which results in a somewhat clear broth with a suspension of pieces of white fat. The noodles in Manshu-ya are a thin, round variety, quite floury and distinctly al dente. They require some chewing. The ramen also includes two slices of chashu seasoned pork. These were soft, sweet and succulent, perfectly complementing the noodles. The counter has large glass of jars of takana spiced vegetable, and finding the ramen a little bland on its own, I put in a generous helping of the highly piquant green takana, which resulted in a much better balance.

The gyoza had a very soft texture, with a mild and subtle flavor. The taste of good quality pork and vegetables seemed to come separately in agreeable little waves.

Tonkotsu soup, chashu, and gyoza are abundantly supplied with calories, and they aren’t for people on strict weight-loss diets. But then, ramen-eaters have probably figured this out for themselves.

Generally, I could have done with a little more of everything. For a 1,000 yen meal of ramen and gyoza, one expects to be quite full, but I wasn’t. While the gyoza were very pleasant, I concluded that, on balance, it’s rather brazen to claim them as the very best in Japan. In making extravagant claims, there’s a danger that people will be disappointed rather than satisfied as they otherwise would be.

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Anonymous 7 years ago
not so bad for 1000 yen!

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