The plan was to head to Atami, but we made a special stop on the way at Yugawara for Iida Shoten, a shop that we had been longing to go to for some time.
About 10 minutes from the station in a quiet residential area, the shop had a queue of more than 10 people even though we had arrived 30 minutes before it opened!
While we waited, we observed the scene. Inside the shop are cute cartoons instructing customers on how to eat the noodles, pictures drawn by children, and photos of volunteer activities in Fukushima after the big quake. This seemed like a shop with a kind-hearted owner, always a good sign for a ramen artist. Also, some customers were ordering two bowls - one ramen and one tsukemen - which both intrigued and infuriated us.
Hearts ordered the tsukemen...
...while I ordered the ramen.
Both were exceedingly beautiful. I can hardly put these bowls into words. The ramen had hand-made noodles that were as smooth as silk.
The entire bowl was amazingly well-balanced: the noodles, the flavor of the soy sauce, the soft and marbled pork and chicken chashu all complemented one another. I've never, ever tasted such deep soy sauce flavor in any bowl!
The tsukemen noodles were covered in a seaweed dashi that made them very slippery.
You first try the noodles with a pinch of salt, enjoying the umami of the dashi, salt, and noodle.
Then, you dip them in the soup and savor the fluffy, slimy, rich, slightly sour taste all at once. This is what might be called a "mouth orgasm" (the clean kind!).
These are bowls that touched our hearts. It's rare to find such faultless ramen. We hardly make absolute recommendations, but if you haven't tried Iida Shoten, it's worth a special trip to Yugawara. Go now!
Kanagawa, Ashigarashimogun Yugawara-cho Doi 2-12-14
Closest stn: Yugawara
Open from 11am-3pm (closed Mondays)