SEN NO KAZE KYOTO
Sen no Kaze translated as 1000 winds. A romantic name for what is defined by many as a delicious and unmissable Ramen in Kyoto. The Ramen shop is located in the nice neighborhood of Nakanocho, central to many places such as the Nishiki market, Kyoto museum, and the always super crowded Kawaramachi street.
It is also a two minutes walk from the overrated Ichiran Ramen (I put that just in case you were starving for a Ramen in the area and thought Ichiran was a great idea 😉 )
I decided to pay a visit to Sen no Kaze after realizing that it has been a week since i was in Japan and i didn’t eat a Ramen yet (crazy i know!). I read and heard great reviews about this Ramen in Kyoto and thought it was time to try something new.
I visited the place around 3 pm on a Saturday. Even at that time, there was a pretty decent queue. The queuing system machine used to register yourself indicated a half an hour wait before my turn.
There is a bench in front of the shop for you to sit and wait for your turn which is quite appreciable.
I noticed straight away that the place is quite popular with overseas tourists. In fact, there were only oversea tourists when i arrived. I thought it was probably recommended somewhere in Tripadvisor or a guide such as Lonely Planet.
The Menu of Sen no Kaze is displayed in big in front of the shop (easy for you to decide what you want to eat while you wait. Shio or Shoyu, Shio or Shoyu, Shio or Sho…). The shop offers many Ramen variations including Shio, Shoyu, Miso, and a special spicy Ramen. Each Ramen can be ordered with a Gyoza and Beer set.
The good thing considering the number of tourists visiting the shop is that the menu is written in many languages including; English, Korean and even Spanish. You will also find an indication about the meat and products used for each Ramen which is nice in case you have specific dietary requirements.
I couldn’t resist but to mention the compelling statement on the front sign of the shop. Number 1 in Kyoto, Number 1 in the world. That’s a hell of a statement considering the amount of Ramen shops in Japan and it got me a bit intrigued. Especially knowing how humble the Japanese usually are this one got me a bit curious and excited. That’s Marketing targeting tourists for sure but the Challenge was accepted. Would Sen no Kaze be the 1st Ramen in Kyoto and the World?
The half an hour indicated quickly became an hour. At some point, while waiting, i felt like leaving the place overwhelmed by the number of tourists waiting here. Another tourist trap? Then i remembered all the great things i have heard about that place and the fact that i was damn to tired to move my #ss anywhere else.
Finally, they called the number 41 and it was time for the beast to wake up and eat.
Once seated i realized that the shop was managed by two ladies, The cook and a waitress (Mother and daughter i guessed by the fact that they had the same look, outfit and cool hats). It is always worth mentioning in an industry ruled by Men, a really cool thing to see.
The inside of the restaurant is nice with counter seats and a few tables available. The deco was cozy with a warm atmosphere. I had a counter seat which gave me the opportunity to sit in front of the open kitchen and see the elder lady in action preparing the Ramen, while the younger one was running managing orders and expectations.
KYO NO SHIO RAMEN:
I was starving, i didn’t eat the whole day and i could tell that a good ramen with extra Chashu would give me a hand for the rest of my visit in Kyoto.
I decided to go for the Kyo no Shio Ramen, a Tonkotsu based Ramen which is described as the number one with locals.
I also added extra slices of Chashu simply because i couldn’t resist the temptation and an Ajitsuke Tamago (kind of Marinated Egg, typical with Ramen). The Ajitsuke Tamago is my secret benchmark item. It makes or breaks an above average Ramen shop for me (without even talking noodles broth or Chashu). It is the difference between what a conscientious chef does and an average one. A well-prepared Tamago with a creamy yolk and good umami taste can tell a lot about the cook’s perfectionism regarding his shop. Obsessive? don’t even start me.
The service was slow for a ramen shop (or may be it is me who was starving). The tourists coming in the restaurants and bothering the staff every 5 minutes to understand the queueing system didn’t help. They should put a one-pager explanation in English in front of the shop. Use the queuing machine to get a ticket then wait for your turn. Easy as A, B, C.
Now let’s talk about the Ramen:
The Broth was really good. A first sip and i could feel this wonderful umami and depth that i love so much with Tonkotsu Ramen. The salt wasn’t overpowering and it was well balanced. The broth also had a good amount of abura yet it was light enough for you to drink the whole bowl if you feel like it. Well done Sen no Kaze.
The Noodles were pretty decent. Nothing exceptional but they had this good koshiness when you bit them. The noodles weren’t soggy at all and it was good to feel that again.
I have been traveling in Asia for a few weeks before landing in Japan and even though the local recipes were great when it comes to the noodles soup, the weak point for me was always the bite of those noodles. Damn It is good to be back in Japan!
At Sen no Kaze they use noodles with small-medium thickness in their Ramen. I wouldn’t have minded for thicker noodles to capture the broth a bit more. Overall they were good and the amount served was perfect. I wasn’t feeling the need to order Kaedama.
The Chashu. What’s a good Tonkotsu Ramen without delicious slices of Chashu? I don’t know and i don’t want to. The Chashu prepared at Sen no Kaze was really good. Well cooked and decently marinated. I ordered extra slices on top of the three that they serve normally with the Ramen. They were very savoury, above average. Thick cuts, tender, with a nice umami and a well balanced salty taste. Damn, i love those. It is usually with Chashu pork that i get the most disappointment when eating a Tonkotsu Ramen but Sen no Kaze didn’t fail me on this one. Thank you for that.
Regarding the Toppings. The ramen was served with lots of beansprout and slice of green onion. It was a great addition to the Ramen. I just wish they could have added a slice or two of Menma (seasoned bamboo shoots, i love them!). The egg i have ordered was also tasty with a good and creamy yolk as i like it. Another good point for Sen no Kaze.
I paid 1100 yen for the Ramen, the extra toppings of Chashu and the Egg. It was well worth it for a delicious first Ramen back in Japan. The reviews and recommendations didn’t lie, you can go to Sen no Kaze without worry.
If time is your concern though, i would be careful with the indication of the queuing system as my thirty minutes estimated became more than an hour.
“Sen no Kaze is a pretty decent Ramen shop in the heart of Kyoto.
You won’t be disappointed if you are hoping to experience what should be a good Ramen in Japan. The Shio Tama is delicious; Tasty broth, great slices of Chashu and well-prepared noodles. Worth the wait if you are in the area”