The last time I can remember willingly eating hot noodles on a hot day was in Thailand years ago. You can’t really escape the heat, and even when you request “mild” or “not spicy,” there’s a lot of heat packed into a bowl or plate of noodles. When Linda who loves food as much [probably even more] than me suggested ramen in 100 degree Texan heat, I scoffed. I’m a complete wuss when it comes to weather, but I agreed to try Ramen Tatsu-Ya.
There was a line when we arrived. No surprise since it had just opened, and from what I’ve noticed, Austinites are not deterred by lines if the food’s good. It probably ended up being an hour or so of waiting.
By the time we made our way inside, my body was protesting the heat and the wait. I had to sit myself down at an empty seat with a glass of water to keep from passing out. The water and promise of food helped quite a bit though.
Ashley, Linda and I shared all three of the small bites – Spicy Edamame [Pan seared soy beans tossed with citrus, jalapeno, sea salt and shichimi spice], Gyoza [Pan seared pork dumplings with soy vinegar dipping sauce] and Munchie Katsu Slider [Breaded and deep fried burger patty served on Hawaiian roll with katsu sauce and side of Japanese potato salad].
Of the three, I enjoyed the edamame most. It had a great kick to it, and the portion was generous. I prefer my gyoza more crisp, so this one was only alright. Very glad to be sharing all of this because we wanted to try it all.
The star of the show – Tonkotsu Original! That’s the creamy pork noodle soup with pork belly, marinated egg, wood ear mushroom and scallions. You also have the option of adding toppings and something they call “bombs” to change the flavor of the soup. I went with extra garlic, which you basically press yourself.
The broth was rich, but not overly salty. The yolk on the egg was perfectly cooked. One of the best bowls of ramen I’ve had! Everyone has different tastes, and this one fit mine.
Once you get beyond the line and through the doors, it’s a casual dining experience. You order at the counter, grab a number and a seat and wait for delivery. They’re pretty quick about cleaning up after each group, so there didn’t seem to be a shortage of seats by the time you made your order. If you’re not familiar with eating ramen, no worries! There are some pointers on the menu for doing so. As of my visit, there were still some logistics to work out. The A/C was not enough to accommodate the amount of people when we were there, but they went and picked up fans right away. They seemed to be responding quickly to issues as they arise, so I foresee them doing quite well.
I’m glad I agreed to sweat it out and give the spot a try because 1) I loved it! and 2) It was an opportunity to catch the restaurant in its opening stages. Now when are they opening up in San Francisco?