Are lines deceptive, or is the food as good as they suggest?

There are always going to be restaurants we know about but never get the chance to try, and for our Japanese-language reporter Takasahi Harada, Kyushu Jangara was one of them.

Kyushu Jangara is a Tokyo ramen chain specializing in tonkotsu ramen, which uses a broth made with pork bones, and which originally hails from Fukuoka, on the island of Kyushu (which is why “Kyushu” is in the name). The original restaurant in Akihabara opened in 1984, but as of the writing of this article, there are a total of five branches throughout the city. Because of the chain’s reputation for giving Tokyoites authentic-tasting tonkotsu ramen without having to take a trip to the other side of the country, there’s almost always a long line to get into Kyushu Jangara, and if you’ve ever been to Tokyo’s Harajuku neighborhood, you’ve probably seen the queue of people in front of the Kyushu Jangara branch on the Omotesando boulevard, close to Harajuku Station.

That line had kept Takashi from ever eating at Kyushu Jangara, at least until the other day, when he happened to be passing by a little before lunch and noticed the line was shorter than usual. “This is my chance!” he thought, and he jumped in. “If people are always lining up, it has to be good.” He was excited to finally give it a try.

The menu looked highly satisfying and included five different kinds of soup “With Everything”, which comes with all the toppings the restaurant offers.

Their basic ramen bowls ranged from about 790 to 940 yen (US$4.90 to $6.20), but the “Kyushu Jangara with Everything”, which seemed like the restaurant’s signature dish, was 1,410 yen. As a special discount it was available for 1,340 yen when Takashi went. At first he thought this was a bit expensive, but the branch he visited was in a prime shopping and tourist area, so compared to many of the other nearby lunch options, such a price isn’t so bad.

Besides, when his order finally arrived, he could understand why the price was so high. The bowl was completely packed with toppings! Chashu (roasted pork belly), a seasoned boiled egg, bamboo shoots, green onions, cloud ear mushrooms, and even marinated pork! And…and!!

Spicy cod roe!! Takashi has hardly ever seen tonkotsu ramen served with spicy cod roe, which is more popular as a rice ball filling than a ramen topping. To his surprise it was actually really delicious.

Contrary to what you might think, the individual flavors were pretty light…at least until Takashi began to mix everything together. The more he mixed, the more the flavor changed, which made this dish extra exciting. Plus, there were tons of optional toppings lined up on the tables and counter, like hot pickled greens–which you can also take home as a souvenir–and red pickled ginger, so he could really customize his ramen to his heart’s content.

The the thin noodles, the main attraction, became soaked with the delicious broth. Takashi had no problem understanding why so many people wanted to eat here–especially with how many topping and broth options there are.

They even offer vegan and diet-friendly ramen, including noodles with 50 percent less carbs!

Clearly they’ve been really thorough in their menu, down to the finest details, so that everyone, regardless of their dietary restrictions, can find something to eat. No wonder everyone wants to eat there, and no wonder Takashi spotted so many international tourists there too.

Plus, the line actually moved surprisingly fast, and a bowl of ramen was set before Takashi before he knew it, so there’s really no reason not to join the line if you’ve been wanting to try Kyushu Jangara. Takashi sure won’t hesitate the next time he sees another place with a line out the door!

Restaurant informaton
Kyushu Jangara Harajuku Branch / 九州じゃんがら 原宿店
Tokyo-to Shibuya-ku Jingumae 1-13-21
Hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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