There’s no need to give up ramen on sizzling hot days as long as you eat it Yamagata-style.

A heat wave hit Tokyo this week, with temperatures soaring to summertime levels even though spring isn’t quite done yet. This left us with a bit of a problem, though.

See, we’re pretty much always craving ramen, but a bowl of piping hot noodle soup gets a lot less appealing on a hot day. Luckily, our reporter Masami has a solution.

In Tokyo’s Jimbocho neighborhood, not incredibly far from the electronics and anime shops of Akihabara, is the restaurant Totoko. Totoko specializes in dishes from Yamagata Prefecture, and it just so happens that one of those is cold ramen.

The lowest-priced cold ramen option is the Tsuttai Ramen (tsuttai being the Yamagata dialect version of the word tsumetai/”cold”), for 850 yen (US$7.80). Being the high-rolling gourmand that she is, though, Masami splurged on the deluxe 1,060-yen Special Tsuttai Ramen (“Tokusei Tsuttai Ramen” if you’re ordering in Japanese). That extra 210 yen gets you a lavish collection of 14 different toppings, with the stars being sliced chicken, cucumber, and edible chrysanthemum blossoms from Yamagata Prefecture, plus tsukune chicken meatballs, fried tempura batter, green onion, and a zest of yuzu citrus fruit.

This being her first time to eat cold ramen, Masami was a little unsure of how well the concept would work, but all doubt vanished as she took her fist sip of broth and bite of noodles. The soy broth is low on oil and refreshing, with each spoonful satisfying the taste buds and cooling the body.

The toppings, likewise, were all delicious, with the standout being the agetama (fried tempura batter). While tempura is commonly added to soba and udon, Japan’s other favorite noodle varieties, it’s quite a bit rarer in ramen. Totoko makes its agetama in-house, and it manages to be flavorful without any sort of greasiness, which makes it the perfect accompaniment for the tasty yet rejuvenating Tsuttai Ramen.

Oh, and if you’re looking for even more chilled components for your meal, Totoko also offers a wide range of small-batch Yamagata sake varieties, as well as Gassan, a Yamagata craft beer.

With Japan’s steamy rainy season just around the corner and two months of scorching full-fledged summer after that, we’re happy to have a place to let us get our ramen fix while beating the heat, and if you’re a Japanese noodle fan, Totoko will give you a ramen experience unlike anywhere else in Tokyo.

Restaurant information
Totoko / ととこ
Address: Tokyo-to, Chiyoda-ku, Kanda Ogawamachi 3-10-9
Open 11 a.m.-11 p.m.

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