For a ramen chain that’s already known for its signature rich broth, how much richer can this new maximum-rich dish get?

Kyoto-based popular ramen chain Tenkaippin boasts a name that literally means “the best product under the heavens.” It certainly seems to be living up to its name, too, since it placed first in last year’s poll of Japanese people’s favorite ramen places.

On June 12, the chain plans to release a ramen dish with the ultimate rich broth–“Kotteri [thick/rich] Max.” Our noodle-loving Japanese-language reporter Mr. Sato caught wind of this new release and was recently able to sample an advance offering of the dish at the Tenkaippin location in Tokyo’s Koenji district.

Upon arriving right before opening time at 11 a.m., he was surprised to see a small group of people already lined up outside of the restaurant. Were they all after a bowl of the Kotteri Max as well? That turned out to not be the case since not everyone ordered it when they were let inside. They must have just really wanted a ramen fix.

Mr. Sato, however, had made this trip specifically for the Kotteri Max. A regular-sized bowl cost 1,210 yen (US$8.65) while a large-sized one cost 1,400 yen–which is a bit more than a typical bowl of ramen you might find in Japan. It could also be ordered as part of a set ramen meal for an additional 270 yen.

Mr. Sato decided to order the Kotteri Max in the regular size along with a small bowl of rice for 120 yen. After a short wait, a bowl of ramen with the thickest broth he had ever seen was placed in front of him. He took a moment to just absorb the sight of it with his eyes. Based on its name, he had been expecting something perhaps a little more sinister-looking and darker in color, but it didn’t come across that way at all. It just gave off an aura of the maximum-possible richness that a bowl of noodles could have.

Speaking of names, the Kotteri Max was previously released at a portion of Tenkaippin locations across Japan under the name “Zeppin Max.” That dish turned out to be popular enough to warrant a small rebranding and upcoming release at branches across the whole country this time.

Before taking a bite, Mr. Sato also took a moment to appreciate how “Kotteri Max” was inscribed on both the bowl and the spoon. This was marketing done right–to the Max, in fact.

It was time to sample the soup. His spoon felt heavy with the weight of its rich umami nature. It certainly didn’t disappoint, and he was delighted to detect hints of sweet vegetables in the broth as well.

He especially loved the way that the soup clung to the noodles when he grabbed a clump of them with his chopsticks. He couldn’t even tell if he was slurping noodles or soup half the time–everything was just so darn rich. Tenkaippin’s normal broth is already on another level on its own, but this Kotteri Max broth took that singularity even higher.

It was of course delicious the way it was, but Mr. Sato couldn’t help but be curious about what it would taste like with a little miso mixed with mustard added in. It’s something that he always does at Tenkaippin, despite not being a huge fan of spicy things in general. This addition seemed to make the flavor even deeper, as well as enhance the natural sweetness of the soup.

Once he had finished the noodles, it was time for the rice. He ladled a bit of the broth on top of the rice, along with another dollop of the miso-mustard topping and even a tiny splash of ramen sauce. This was the certified Mr. Sato Style of Eating.

Finishing with this “Kotteri Soup Rice” was absolutely the best decision he made. It was truly a dish for the body and soul, and the super-thick broth only heightened his feelings of gastronomic bliss.

Mr. Sato encourages everyone to try the Kotteri Max ramen when it’s released at Tenkaippin branches nationwide on June 12. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a thicker, richer ramen anywhere else.

In the meantime, maybe you’d also like to sample the very different but equally delicious Morning Ramen in Fukuoka Prefecture.

Reference: Tenkaippin Kotteri Max
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