It’s like having several Japanese dishes in one bowl.

Many areas of Japan have their specialty ramen, whether it’s Fukuoka’s rich tonkotsu ramen or Hokkaido’s brain-flavored ramen (okay, maybe that isn’t exactly a specialty). For Funabashi City in Chiba Prefecture, it’s Funabashi Sauce Ramen, known for using a soup base that’s like yakisoba sauce.

While most locals are familiar with their neighborhood specialties, our Funabashi-born-and-raised Japanese-language reporter Kouhey came to the shocking realization that he’d never tried Funabashi Sauce Ramen. Seeking to rectify this, he went out in search of the best bowl in town.

▼ The place he ended up at was Dairen Kodendori Branch, also known by many as the pioneer of Funabashi Sauce Ramen.

It looked like a standard Chinese cuisine restaurant to Kouhey, but rave reviews of their sauce ramen had been posted on the door, a good sign of what was to come for him.

▼ Sauce Ramen was listed at the top for 780 yen (US$5.22).

As it’s a popular spot, the restaurant was naturally packed with customers when he got there. Thankfully, he didn’t have to wait long for a seat, and he knew right away what his order was: Sauce Ramen for 780 yen a bowl. He even decided to throw in a ham cutlet topping, bringing his total to 980 yen. It took around 10 minutes for his order to be ready.

▼ Finally, he was ready to try his hometown’s famous dish for the first time.

The ham cutlet looked scrumptious, and the soup smelled distinctly like yakisoba sauce with a strong umami flavor. Kouhey’s stomach rumbled in anticipation, but he resisted the temptation to dig in and took a sip of soup first.

It was delicious! It tasted like yakisoba sauce but not overwhelmingly so. It was a first for him to have yakisoba sauce in a broth-like consistency, and he didn’t hate it.

He took a bite of the noodles and vegetables in the bowl and immediately fell in love. The thick noodles, soft cabbage and carrots, and umami-filled soup made for a perfect harmony of flavors and textures. The ground meat and pickled ginger accents were like icing on the sauce ramen cake.

Kouhey sampled the ham cutlet last. Unlike the typical chashu pork cutlet used in many ramen dishes in Japan, the ham cutlet’s saltiness and flavor were better suited for the sauce ramen’s unique soup.

▼ He shoveled in bite after bite.

▼ As an experiment, he let the second half of the ham cutlet soak in the broth for a while before eating it.

It was like a completely and wonderfully different cutlet! The soup bath made the cutlet’s coating super soft, and Kouhey thought it would pair nicely with a bowl of rice.

He finished the bowl with a perfect mix of the remaining soup fixings, relishing in the experience of his first Funabashi Sauce Ramen. It was the first time in a long time that Kouhey had been so impacted by a bowl of ramen.

He is definitely a fan now, and his only regret is that he didn’t try it years sooner.

Restaurant information
Chinese Restaurant Dairen Koden-dori Branch / 中華料理 大輦 御殿通店
Address: Chiba-ken, Funabashi-shi, Honmachi 4-20-17
Open 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m., 5 p.m.-9 p.m. (Wednesday-Saturday), 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. (Sundays and Tuesdays )
Closed Mondays

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