You won't have any difficulty finding a ramen bar in Japan. So popular is Japan's ubiquitous character-building noodle dish that chain stores go head-to-head with private mom & pop operations with both seemingly coming out winners.
One such chain store is Ramen Kagetsu Arashi, a ramen behemoth most famous for its genkotsu pork soy sauce flavoured broth. There is nothing delicate about the ramen at Kagetsu Arashi - it's a full frontal attack on the palate that has its fans frothing in line as they wait for their dose of garlic, oil, miso and pork.
Now, despite being a big fan of ramen, I have to admit to not having tried the infamous Kagetsu Arashi version. A day out on my own and I came home to find out that my family had secretly made their way to the local restaurant in Yashio City. Well, secretly may be overstating things a bit but everyone knows I like my ramen.
So, a few days later, we all headed off together with my better half leading the way. With doors opening every day at 11am (and closing at 1am...), we entered and ordered via the ticket machine by the door. Pretty easy so far and after handing over the tickets to the staff we stat down to wait for our dishes in a modern and clean ramen bar. Then our order arrived.
I can completely understand Kagetsu Arashi's pugilisitic appeal. Full bodied flavours punch their way out of the bowl, knocking the lights out of any pretence to delicacy. Float like a butterfly, sting like bee? Nah, Kagetsu Arashi just sends you flying.
I went for the salt flavoured noodles while my wife chose the garlic. Both bowls set us back JPY720 each, including tax and a side dish of tasty gyoza dumplings at JPY340 went perfectly well the ramen. Satiated and comfortable, I found that my family guides were on to something. Easy to order, easy enough to eat and light enough on the pocket, it's little wonder Kagetsu Arashi is as popular as it is.