By Jaime Wong
After reading many rave reviews about Ginjo Ramen Kubota in Shimogyoko, Kyoto, I decided that it was time to “pop my ramen cherry” at this supposedly authentic and local restaurant specializing in miso ramen. What better place to do this than at a restaurant providing what many people considered as “the best ramen of my life”?
Since the restaurant only seats 8-10 people, there was quite a queue lined up in front of the restaurant. So, I wouldn't recommend going if you are starving. In case you are not that hungry, the approximate wait time is 20 minutes and the delicious aroma is somewhat useful to build up an appetite.
What is interesting about this restaurant is that they cut out the middle man and you have to order through a vending machine. Although this has its charm, it can be a bit confusing if you do not know any Japanese. It is similar to playing the ramen lottery, so it might be a good thing that the options are quite limited. After ordering your meal on the vending machine you will have to give your ticket to one of the chefs. Then you will basically have to play the waiting game until someone else is done eating their meal so that the chef can start preparing yours.
The entire restaurant is operated by two young men. Since everybody eats along a bar running around the kitchen, you can watch them prepare your meal right in front of you, which is extra fun!
The freshly made noodles were perfectly cooked and had to be dipped into the rich broth provided separately. The dipping sauce features the typical flavor and sweetness of miso. It seemed to be quite popular with locals, which can definitely be considered a good thing. For ¥500 extra you can order a beer if you think the self service free water is not enough. With an average price tag of only ¥1000, this makes for a great but very quick meal if you keep the people lining up behind you in mind.
Was it the best ramen I had in my life? Yes.
Was it because it was the first ramen I ever ate? Quite possible.
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