A whole new way to appreciate ramen. 

We love our ramen, and love to get a taste of it whenever and wherever we can, so when we heard a Tokyo ramen restaurant had come up with the brilliant idea of serving their ramen broth in takeout cups, we knew we had to give it a try.

▼ Yes, you read that right–this new menu item is a cup of broth, served without the noodles.

The ingenious new idea for broth-in-a-cup comes from the Nakano branch of popular ramen chain Tenka Ippin, which recently opened in November last year. The takeout broth is being sold under the name “Cup de Kotteri”, which refers to Tenka Ippin’s signature kotteri (heavy and flavourful) broth, a big part of the ramen experience that draws diners to the chain.

▼ How Tenka Ippin’s kotteri ramen broth is usually enjoyed by eat-in diners.

One diner with a soft spot for Tenka Ippin’s broth is our very own Japanese-language reporter Mr Sato, who was more than happy to put his hand up to review the soup without the noodles. And as soon as he arrived at the Nakano branch, he was met with the familiar warming fragrance of ramen, thanks to the stall that had been set up outside to advertise the new product.

The delicious aroma attracted the attention of everyone who passed by it, and Mr Sato quickened his step to get to the stall just as other curious passersby headed towards it. At first glance, the images of paper cups on the posters made it look as if Tenka Ippin had started selling takeout coffees, but our reporter knew exactly what they were selling, and handed his 150 yen (US$1.45) over in exchange for a cup of broth.

Mr Sato could immediately see the liquid inside the cup was thick and opaque–just like he remembered it to be. Cup in hand, he was keen to find out if presentation would affect the flavour, though despite not being served in a bowl, it did have the chain’s distinctive branding on it.

As he wondered whether broth-in-a-cup would taste as good as broth-in-a-bowl, Mr Sato looked around for a place to enjoy it, given that it’s frowned upon to eat-and-walk in Japan. He never thought he’d find himself walking the streets of Tokyo with Tenka Ippin broth in one hand, but here he was, self-consciously carrying the aroma of ramen with him while trying to fool everyone into thinking he was just carrying an innocent cup of coffee.

▼ Sorry, folks–it’s not a coffee, it’s a kotteri.

He finally found a nice sunny spot to sit, so he could be warmed from the outside as well as the inside while he sipped on the liquid of the ramen gods.

The short walk gave the liquid inside the cup some time to cool and as Mr Sato gently blew on its surface, he felt as if he should be readying a pair of chopsticks to help slurp a mound of ramen out of the cup.

▼ It looked just like the ramen he loved, only in mobile, miniature form!

With only the liquid and green onions visible, Mr Sato felt as if there could very well be noodles hiding inside there somewhere, but as he took a sip, he realised there really were none. Stripping away the noodles, however, allowed him to taste the bare bones of the soup, and he was pleasantly surprised to find that the unadulterated broth held its own superbly, without the need for any fancy accoutrements.

▼ Distinctly Tenka Ippin. Thick, hot and hearty, with all the goodness of simmered chicken and vegetables, but with a ramen twist.

Inside, he discovered the reason why the broth comes with a small muddler, as it contains small pieces of Char Siu! This was a great addition to really ram home the fact that this was more than just a cup of ordinary soup.

After warming the cockles of his ramen-loving heart, Mr Sato was pleasantly impressed with Tenka Ippin’s idea to offer cups of broth to-go. Not only was it a great solution for diners looking to avoid eating inside restaurants during the pandemic, it offered a unique ramen experience that had him appreciating all the fine details in the chain’s familiar broth that he usually takes for granted.

Strangely enough, he didn’t miss the noodles, but that could’ve been because he was saving his appetite for the contents of this lucky bag from rival chain Ippudo, which allows you to recreate the ramen restaurant experience at home!

Restaurant information
Tenka Ippin (Nakano branch) / 天下一品中(中野店)
Address: Tokyo-to, Nakano-ku, Arai 1-9-3
Currently open 11 a.m.-8 p.m. (ordinarily 11 a.m.-3 a.m.)

Photos © SoraNews24
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[ Read in Japanese ]