After passing on the tonkotsu ramen at the Yokohama Ramen Museum on our first day in Japan, we never got around to having ramen again until the last day in Japan. Could you blame us? We were caught up with delicious plates at Za-Watami Izakaya in Shonandai, a classy meal at Maimon in Yokohama, and an exquisite kaiseki dinner at Maru in Aoyama. We almost ran out of time!
Tonkotsu Ramen at Hakatakko Ramen Shop, Machida
Our last full day in Japan was the one I most looked forward to because I got to spend the whole day with my friend Yuko, someone who I knew from my school days in Hawaii. I had told Yuko I was coming and even though she was working in Korea, she happened to be back in Japan at just the right time. So we arranged to meet up on Friday.
Friday arrived, and Yuko suggested we meet at Machida Station in the late morning. When I got to Machida and met up with her it was amazing to know that even though we had not seen each other for 10 years, she still looked and acted pretty much the same. We just hit it off right away like a day hadn’t gone by.
I told her that I was interested to do some shopping and get some ramen and maybe some sushi or korokke. She was happy to oblige. She brought me to her favorite tonkotsu ramen place which was perfect since we had missed out on the tonkotsu ramen at the ramen museum. So we started off walking towards this ramen shop only to discover that it didn’t open until 11:30.
We decided to walk around the streets of Machida while we waited for the shop to open. Machida is actually a really nice town. The streets are quaint and narrow. It is not as frenetic as Tokyo proper, yet it has enough going for it that you can really sense its own character.
Street of Machida
Along the way, we picked up some special gelato from this store selling Okinawan gelato. I ended up going with the black sugar gelato which was simply delicious. A little further on we came upon this shop which sold all kinds of korokkes out of its little window so Yuko and I stopped and she selected a few (even though we both agreed that we should be cautious to not over eat). It was good, and we enjoyed a korokke and a half each. (In my excitement to catch up with Yuko I did not take any pictures.)
Yuko also pointed out to me a 5-story Daiso (100 yen) store. I was very excited as I planned to come back with Nate later that evening to get some shopping done there. Finally, the time arrived and we made our way back to tonkotsu ramen shop.
Hakatakko Ramen Shop
This ramen shop is on one of the side streets just outside Machida Station. When you get to the entrance, there is the typical vending machine where you choose your dish, pay for it, and out pops your order chit.
Ramen Ticket Vending Machine
We had arrived probably about 15 minutes after it opened and already the downstairs was completely full and we had to go upstairs. Even the upstairs was pretty full so we ended up sitting at a bar counter along the wall. We handed our tickets to the waitress and waited for our orders to arrive. When the bowls came, this time I did not forget to take a picture!
Immediately, we dug into it. I must say that I probably overindulged in the korokke and ice cream because I wasn’t famished for ramen. The broth was good and the noodles were wonderful but I think my not being very hungry took away from the full enjoyment of this meal. I was just too full to do this bowl of ramen justice.
I must say it was still wonderful, and a really good bowl of tonkotsu ramen. The broth was really rich and meaty with that milky flavor. With the addition of sesame seeds, you get an extra hit of fragrance. The noodles were cooked just right – al dente – but unfortunately the size of the noodles were really thin. I think thin noodles, even though cooked al dente, don’t have that same chewiness like a thick noodle. I guess I’m just more of a fat noodle kind of a girl. But still, being in good company helped me to really enjoy it.
Yuko said that this was her favorite ramen shop. Every time when she came back to Japan, she had to have this ramen. Drinking the soup and taking that first bite of noodle always made her feel that she was finally home in Japan. That’s what good food does for you, I guess. It floods your system with comfort and that sense of “home”.
What food makes you feel at home? Leave us a comment below!
For me, this ramen was not my ultimate comfort meal, but then I suppose ramen is not something I grew up eating on a regular basis. If we ever come back to Machida, we will definitely want to come back to this place so that we can have the full enjoyment of it.
Epilogue: Machida at Night
I met up with Annie and Yuko in Machida Station after work, and we proceeded upstairs to have sushi at Asahisushi Restaurant in the Odakyu Department Store. After dinner, Yuko had to return home but Annie wanted to show me the ramen place and also go shopping at the Daiso. We exited the station and turned out onto one of the streets in search of the ramen shop.
The streets are filled with people going home from work. Restaurant hawkers standing on both sides of the street call out to passersby, inviting them to eat at their particular restaurant. Some shops were empty but others, like this modern-looking ramen shop, were standing room only.
Unfortunately, Annie has a poor sense of direction and could not remember where the ramen shop was. We went up and down a few streets, looking for the shop, before we backtracked to Machida Station. As it turns out, the shop is actually a few steps away from the South entrance of the station! I took a video of how to get there from the entrance:
We were too full from our sushi dinner to have a go at ramen. Maybe next time. In the end, we spent some time buying gifts and snacks at Daiso before heading back to our hotel to pack. Our journey to Japan came to and end, but it left in us a deep hunger to return.