Yashichi is a notable ramen shop on two counts: it ranked 39 on review website Tabelog’s top 50 ramen restaurants for 2016 and has devised a way of dealing with its popularity by eliminating long lines to get it. Rather, when you pull up to its ramshackle exterior, one of the servers will issue you with a ticket indicating a time when you should return. Waiting time is usually about an hour.
There are three main ramen options on the menu at Yashichi: shoyu (soy sauce), shio (salt) or tsukemen, where the noodles are served separately. Unusually, no alcohol is served. On a recent visit we sampled the shoyu and the salt varieties as well as hetameshi, a bowl of rice topped with cuttings of chashu, pork belly in a rich, sweet marinade.
Common to both the shoyu and shio ramen is a chicken base, which I could have sworn was actually tonkatsu (pork). With the shio ramen, the broth retained its creamy color, rich in umami from the hours spent boiling chicken feet, cartilage and skin. In the shoyu ramen, Yashichi are perhaps a little too generous with the shiso (perilla), but you can ask for it without.
The shoyu ramen, darker in color, pipped its salty brother — but only just.
What Yashichi has pulled off is creating subtle broths that stand out.
3-4-8 Toyosaki, Kita-ku, Osaka; 06-6373-0035; nearest station, Nakatsu; open Monday to Friday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (or when stock runs out); ramen from 730 yen; no smoking; Japanese menu; Japanese spoken. For more information, visit www.noodle.co.jp.