Matsuyama isn't usually known for its ramen. If you ask the locals, they aren't really able to say what Matsuyama’s unique regional spin on the noodle dish is. Considering the relative scarcity of ramen shops, I jump at the opportunity to try out a yet unsampled restaurant. This was the case for Ryoka Ramen, a medium-sized ramen shop to the east of Matsuyama on the road between Dogo and Kume. My discovery turned out to answer many of my questions about Shikoku speciality ramen.
Ramen Ryoka is a smaller-scale Shikoku-based ramen chain, with the majority of locations in Ehime prefecture. There are also two shops just across the Seto Sea, in Hiroshima. The limes used in their dishes come from Tokushima prefecture, so this ramen really is unique to the area.
In Matsuyama, the shop is furnished in a traditional style, but has an alluring English slogan outside and the staff are on the younger side. With their specialty ramen, the broth is clear, light, and refreshing, with a torishio base (mild salt flavoured chicken broth), which is also prepared using some mackerel and sardine. The noodles are a slightly thicker variety and the garnish includes bamboo shoots, scallions, simmered pork, and sudachi (Japanese lime). The soup doesn't overpower the citrus flavours or any of the other more delicate seasonings. The best part of the meal was definitely the whole, yolky, golden, marinated egg.
The ramen is pleasant but if you have a preference for the meatiness and higher salt content of a Kyushu or Tokushima tonkotsu ramen, this shop’s noodles may be slightly too bland for you. Nevertheless, it's a dish that showcases many of the flavours of Ehime and Shikoku, and one to tick off any ramen aficionado's list.
An English menu is also available on their website.