When it comes to Ramen topic, it's such a hard decision to pick up some good Ramen places in Japan as there are rediculously many Ramen restaurants all over Japan. However, if I'm asked what the best ramen is for me, my asnwer is always the same. It's TORA ramen shop in Shirakawa city
If you are a ramen lover, you maybe know that Japanese ramens were raised regionally or in each city locally with the history of food culture. Also the tastes of them are respectively different from each other like there are Shoyu (soy source) base soup, Miso base soup, Shio (salt) base soup and Tonkotsu (pork bones) base soup. Nowadays, some of the really good ramens from those regional places are specially focused and popular among ramen lovers in Japan as we know Hakata Tonkotsu raman, Sapporo Miso ramen, Sapporo Shio ramen, Tokyo Shoyu ramen, Kitakata ramen...and more.
My all time NO.1 favorite ramen is Shirakawa Tora Ramen, which is locally cherished in Shirakawa city for more than 50 years and now it's widely known in Japan as one of the best local ramens of Japan. As seen in the photos, this ramen is made by Chicken broth shoyu soup with totally handmade noodles. The Charshu pork slice on the top is really well smoked and tastes fabulous.
I've been craving this ramen since I was a child in Shirakawa city. Whenever I wanted ramen, the first dream I had was myself eating here in TORA ramen restaurant in Shirakawa city especially when I'm out of Japan or even in Tokyo being away from this place. Now there are some TORA pupils' ramen shops also in Tokyo suburbs and in Yokohama area too, which enables us or new Shirakawa ramen lovers to survive from TORA ramen addiction. BUT, to be honest, this main place, Tora ramen restaurant in Shirakawa city offers us the best one even recent days. New cheffs, or the pupils of Tora ramen actually well realized the close copy of Tora taste, but they can't beat the original. So coming back to this place is my must action when I need the REAL ramen.
Maybe this Tora type ramen is regarded as the real traditional style ramen of Japan. If people of Japan taste this or even look at photos of this ramen, they would say it's the traditional one !
For recent ramen lovers especially foreign people, it may be hard to understand this taste because it's not such clearly appealing taste compared to Tonkotsu or Miso ramen. Shoyu taste is deeply related with all kind of Japanese food, so the delicate difference of ramen soups might be a little hard for foreigners to understand for the first time. But if you are a ramen nut, and if you want to know the origin of ramen of Japan, I would highly recommend this place. I hope this experience could be your new motivation for ramen adventure in Japan.
There is a problem. This location is very hard to find. Even for the residents of Shirakawa city, it's all the same. Interestingly, Tora restaurant is situated being surrounded by rice fields ! In spite of such hard access, people try to go there somehow even from Tokyo or Osaka. Also there usually is a long line for waiting to come in.
Please ask me if you REALLY want to try this place. I can tell you the best way to go there and best timing not to miss the ramen. It's such a nightmare if you can't have it after a long trip to this ramen lovers' spot.