As far as ramen in Japan goes, ramen shop Dateya might just be my favorite. This is coming from someone that has eaten thousands of ramen bowls. In short, Dateya’s overall experience is as magical as their ramen is delicious.
Favorite Ramen in Japan – Really?
To be fair, I eat so much ramen that my top picks do change from year to year. There’s a lot of ramen to sift through. Regardless, Dateya (伊達屋) is among my top picks in all of Japan, if not my no. 1 pick. I absolutely love this place.
Before we get to the actual ramen, let’s first set the scene. Dateya is in Fukushima City – Fukushima Prefecture’s capital and third largest city. Outside of Japan, Fukushima is unfortunately normally known for one thing.
But Fukushima is an amazing part of Japan, one with a storied ramen history. Dateya is part of this history. Every year, Dateya makes the Tabelog Top 100 EAST, a prestigious list of the top 100 ramen shops in East Japan.
What to Order?
They have a few ramen options. But they’re most famous for two bowls. They are:
A soy-sauce seasoned “Chuukasoba”
A salt-seasoned “Shio Ramen”
I had to grab both. I went with the ¥770 Chuukasoba (very left) and the ¥1,080 “Shio Wantanmen” (middle) + ¥110 Egg . Wantanmen includes dumplings. These are not to be missed.
On the surface, Dateya’s Chuukasoba looks just like your typical classic ramen. But it’s anything but typical. The full-bodied soup is bursting with a stunning chicken flavor. This comes from chicken oil made from Date chickens.
Date chickens are a top-tier breed that are also responsible for the shop’s name (Dateya).
In this Chuukasoba, the shoyu (soy sauce) seasoning itself isn’t that bold. Along with providing a tangy base, it permits that chicken to take center stage in the soup. Backstage, you have flying fish and bonito fish flakes. They add complexity to this masterful soup.
Dumplings That Will Make You Sing
For some regular customers, it’s the shio ramen that gets them most excited. It’s seasoned with salt, not soy sauce. With a lighter salt seasoning, the marvelous chicken flavors come out to play even more.
But while it’s lighter, it is still punchy. They use a sun-dried salt from Okinawa. You need to order this ramen with dumplings (the “Shio Wantanmen”). These pork and shrimp dumplings are out of this world! They’re flat, generously filled, and have properly silky wrappers.
The other toppings (in both bowls) are top-notch. You have seaweed, negi (spring onions), a big slab of soft chashu pork, and a soft-boiled egg (if you add it).
Lastly, the noodles are special. They’re made from local wheat flour and a bit of egg, which contributes to a satisfyingly smooth flavor and texture.
A Magical Place
I’ve droned on about how much I love the ramen here. I’ll continue this path, but now shifting to the shop’s atmosphere. I don’t know how else to describe it…but Dateya had this special hold over me.
The interior is cozy and unassuming. You’ll feel right at home.
But it was when I was leaving that I felt this oddly emotional connection with the husband-wife team. While the wife was handling my bill the husband came out of the kitchen to say thank you.
This action in itself isn’t unusual. Furthermore, the husband and wife weren’t particularly smiley or talkative.
But it was at this moment, when my eyes met with both of theirs, that I felt this genuine warmth rush over me. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt something like this before in a ramen shop. For this reason, I will never forget Dateya. I of course won’t forget their ramen either.