Whoever invented ramen is a mad genius. Seriously, have you met anyone who dislikes the stuff (except maybe vegetarians and the gluten-intolerant*)? To me, it’s the new chicken soup for the soul. So when our cheapo editor asked me how I’d feel about reviewing a ramen shop, I guess you know what my answer was.
I like how most ramen shops are so straightforward here in Tokyo. You go inside, place your order (often using a ticket-vending machine), sit down (right away if you’re lucky, otherwise you have to wait in a queue), your mouth waters while they serve up your meal, you say “Itadakimasu”, eat (the most majestic part), say “Gochisousama deshita”, and head out with a satisfied tummy.
Personally, I prefer eating at casual ramen houses, especially old ones, rather than classy restaurants, because I feel like the gritty homeliness of the store adds more authenticity to the food. I like seeing the food prepared right in front of me and how everyone else is there to do serious business: cooking or eating. There’s no dilly-dallying. What you see is what you get – and devour. That’s how it works at Raion Ramen.
Rameniac Tip: You can tell a ramen place is *that* good when they have additional chairs lined up outside to accommodate a line of hungry waiting customers.
I’ve eaten at a number of ramen shops around Fuchu, but Raion is my personal favourite, and it’s the first choice for locals too. It started as a small restaurant under the noisy rails of Fuchu Station and over the past three decades, it’s one-of-a-kind taste has made many stomachs very happy.
This warm bowl of heaven is Raion’s signature dish, which they simply call “Raion Ramen”. Yup, nothing too fancy – except for the taste. What you’re looking at is a wonderful blend of shoyu soup base (incredibly made out of boiled fish and pettitoes), perfectly trimmed noodles (not too thick and not too thin), lots of onion leeks (negi), corn kernels and bamboo shoots, a couple of nori sheets, and generous slices of char siu.
A bowl of this will set you back 850 yen – not that cheap, considering you can find decent ramen for about 600 yen. But what you’re getting here goes far beyond “decent” – you’re paying for West Tokyo’s best.
Rameniac Tip: Add some minced garlic and vinegar (freely available on the tables) to your Raion Ramen to make it more scrumptious. You can order additional slices of meat, too, if you’re that kind of a monster.
Their focus might be ramen, but they also do good gyoza at 450 yen for six, or 600 yen for nine. You have a choice of regular, shiso or goya (when it’s in season), and sometimes there are specials where you get some free with your noodles.
Finding the branch in Fuchu: It’s easy to find from Fuchu Station – just look for Kururu building, where Toho Cinemas are located, and on its first floor, go to the exit beside KFC, turn right and you’ll see Raion straight away.
*Both of which Tokyo Cheapo has a bunch of.