[Japan] Kyoto Eats: Tenkaippin (天下一品) at Gion

gion streets

Checking out what Kyoto had to offer wasn’t just reserved for our mornings. On one of our nights out, we decided to take a bus and head to Gion District in hopes of spotting a geisha or a maiko (apprentice geiko). We weren’t lucky enough to see one, although we spotted numerous women sporting beautiful kimonos while enjoying the sights of the area.

kimono wearing ladies at Gion

Starbucks in Gion

Modern establishments like Starbucks were spotted as we walked along Shijo Avenue, a street lined with numerous stores.

display window along Shijo Ave

We peered through several window displays in awe of the lovely products and their packaging. It really showed how seriously the Japanese take their products’ packaging and its appeal on consumers.

Yasaka Shrine

Shijo Avenue wasn’t just all about shopping. At one end stood Yasaka Shrine, beautifully lit during that evening. Sadly, we didn’t have time to go inside and check it out.

tenkaippin storefront

After walking for some time, we were already feeling cold because of the wind. It was only around 12°C that night, but the rumbling in my stomach made it feel like it was way colder.

We all decided it was high time for dinner and the most interesting place we saw was Tenkaippin, a ramen place a bit hidden in one of the side streets. We had to wait in line outside the shop for a couple of minutes as the place was packed. We were told to look at their vending machine menu while we waited, but we hardly understood what was written as everything was in Japanese.

gyoza at Tenkaippin

Eventually the friendly server ushered us in the restaurant and in a matter of minutes, a platter of gyoza was placed on our table. I found this to be just okay, nothing that made it stand out. I enjoyed it with some chili oil though!

kotteri ramen

We decided to wing it for our mains and had bowls of their famous Kotteri Ramen, which was made from chicken stock. This was a bowl of extremely rich, thick and flavorful broth which hit the spot for us. I normally wouldn’t go for anything too rich, but this was the time I was thankful we did. Slurping through this bowl of noodles was so satisfying, I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to share it with anyone who asked!

ramen noodles

Another reason I ended up enjoying this so much was the noodles! They were springy and cooked just right. Nothing too mushy that it becomes such a disappointing experience. The slices of pork, bamboo shoots and scallions were all added bonuses as I found them to be great additions which cut through all that richness.

I must admit that by the time I finished off all the noodles and was left with a few more spoonfuls of the broth, I already felt satiated. The soup has gone cold so the richness became a tad overbearing. I decided to leave them alone. Lesson? Next time I should eat a little faster so that everything’s still piping hot and at its best!

*We visited the branch located at 2 Gionmachikitagawa, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture. Tenkaippin is a popular restaurant chain, with branches outside Japan.

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