Cold Weather Eats: Ramen Tatsu-ya

Between this winter’s blistering cold temperatures and gusty winds spreading cedar fever like the plague, I find myself with a constant craving for the warm healing properties found in a bowl of ramen. Thankfully, Austin has welcomed a plethora of new spots specializing in the Japanese dish over the last couple of years to help satisfy this need for noodles. The indisputable leader of the pack is North Austin’s Ramen Tatsu-ya, whose addictive ramen bowls have cultivated a local cult following and garnered the shop national acclaim from the likes of Food & Wine and Bon Appetite magazine, to name a few.

Ramen Tatsu-ya’s menu focuses on different renditions of the traditional pork broth based ramen bowls in addition to a chicken broth version offered during the newly added lunch time hour and a Sunday evening veggie ramen special. From the two and half day cooking process to a firm no take-out rule, the Ramen Tatsu-ya team is fanatical about the quality of their ramen beginning with the backbone of each dish, the broth. A far cry from the supermarket dried noodle package, Ramen Tatsu-ya spends hours upon hours slowly developing the ramen broth in order to draw out the nuances of every ingredient. This painstaking attention to detail pays off in spades by giving each bowl richness and depth.

In a failed attempt to somewhat keep those January resolutions, I choose to feed my craving by visiting Ramen Tatsu-ya during lunch to test out their chicken broth-based ramen instead of holding out for the creamy, rich pork version. Inspired by the traditional ramen style of Tokyo, Ramen     Tatsu-ya’s Ol’ Skool shoyu ramen features thinly sliced soy-braised pork belly, half of a soft boiled egg, nori strips, and marinated bamboo shoots.

Ol’ Skool Shoyu Ramen - $9.00

Ol’ Skool Shoyu Ramen – $9.00

As with all of their dishes, Ramen Tatsu-ya’s Ol’ Skool ramen is set apart by subtle complexities built from the well-developed flavors of each individual component in the dish.  From the slices of tender, fatty beef to the crispy, tangy pickled bamboo shoots, every element is delicious enough to stand on its own but also complimentary to the overall dish as well. As with the dinner offerings, diners have the option to throw in a corn garlic butter ‘flavor bomb’ on the side. While the ramen certainly doesn’t need a flavor bomb, the addition throws a modern twist and takes the bowl of goodness to a whole new level. Hearty, comforting, and certainly worth the hype, Ramen Tatsu-ya is exactly what the doctor ordered.

Spicy Edamame - $3.00

Spicy Edamame – $3.00

With a mere 38 seats, Ramen Tatsu-ya usually has a line of hangry patrons jonesing for their ramen fix out the door, but the organized staff does their best to move things along quickly. After waiting in line, it’s easy for those of us lacking self-control (i.e., yours truly) to get a little overzealous in the ordering process and overload oneself with unnecessary extras and appetizers. Though Ramen Tatsu-ya’s appetizer and side dish offerings such as spicy edamame and pork fat and garlic-soaked scallions and rice Negi Bowl are pretty ridiculous, my advice is to save room for the main event, especially since leftovers don’t get to leave with you.

Then again, when in Rome…order anything marinated in pork fat.

Negi Bowl - $2.50

Negi Bowl – $2.50

Ramen Tatsu-ya, 8557 Research Blvd. #126, Austin, TX 78758

 

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