Ramen and I got off on the wrong foot; it may or may not have been due to the fact that during my freshman year finals week, I ate two packs of instant ramen at midnight every day. (Would not recommend.)
So when I first started getting recommended a ramen restaurant called Ramen Tatsuya, I was certainly hesitant. But after raving reviews (especially from Michael), I finally decided to give it a try.
And man. Even with the almost-hour long wait, I can say for sure: Ramen Tatsuya is the place to go if you want heavenly ramen.
Since then, I’ve been back countless times. And two years later, I stand before you as a (self-acclaimed) ramen guru with my go-to Ramen Tatsuya orders, tips and tricks.
There are three Ramen Tatsuya in Austin (North, South and East are all covered). No matter which one you go to, though, be sure to get there early, especially if you’re going during lunch/dinner hours. Otherwise, you’re looking at a wait anywhere from twenty minutes to over an hour long. But if you’ve got a chill evening ahead of you, I’d suggest staying for that wait — you can order one of their specialty drinks (SUGRDOG is a personal favorite — can’t go wrong with grapefruit juice, sake and mint with a sea salt rim, although Bae-zilla is an extremely close second for an non-alcoholic option, with sparkling Thai basil limeade and basil seed).
Once you enter, you’ll get to order your food at the counter. I’ve included the menu link here.
Usually, there are seven classic ramen items you’ll see, though sometimes they may have fun specialty ramens. If you’re vegetarian, the veggie ramen is a classic (but also the only option): it’s based in a soy and mushroom broth with tofu, brussels sprouts, corn, menma, woodear mushroom, greens. For first time Tatsuya visitors, I’d suggest the Tonkotsu Original, just a simple yet comforting dish with pork bone broth, chashu, ajitama, woodear mushroom, scallion — nothing too outside the box, but still delicious and heartwarming.
But for my personal favorite — and my go-to order — you absolutely have to try the Tsukemen. With a thick and creamy condensed pork bone dipping broth, chasu, ajitama, nori with some lime juice to top it all off, Tsukemen is a popular Japanese ramen dish where the noodles are eaten after being dipped in the separate broth bowl (it’s also called dipping noodles — like deconstructed ramen). The broth, to me, is the highlight: each ramen restaurant has their own secret for how to make the thick broth, to which the warm noodles are coated with. And Tatsuya’s broth is a true star. To top it all off, you can add extra toppings (like ajitama, chashu or maki), or “bombs” (a small portion of seasoning or herbs or corn).
The portions are pretty huge, so unless you’re sharing a bowl, I usually don’t have room for appetizers at the beginning. But their small bites and sides are certainly worth trying at some point (chashu or curry rice bowl are good options, as well as the gyoza or the potato-based KOROKKAAAYYY for all my fellow potato lovers out there.
All in all, if you’re a local or a tourist, Tatsuya is the place to go for a casual sit-down meal. You definitely don’t want to miss out.