Tonkotsu-style ramen is the best ramen in Japan. For those unfamiliar with this style, let me introduce you. This delectable ramen broth is made by boiling pork bones for more than 12 hours to make sure all flavor from the fat, meat and marrow is going into the broth. No other ramen has a broth so rich and creamy as this. Are you hungry yet? Let me share my two favorite Utsunomiya Tonkotsu Ramen discoveries with you.
The Tonkotsu Ramen Shop with the best value is Motomachi Ya (元町家, Map). Conveniently located near Tobu Utsunomiya Station on O-dori this restaurant is great for tourists and locals alike. From the street you will duck under their red curtains and open their sliding glass door where you will be greeted by a shop person standing by the ticket machine. After you purchase your food ticket you should hand it to the greeter who will pass it to the chefs. Then you should choose your seat at the counter. This small restaurant only seats about 10-12 people so it is perfect for solo travelers. Also at ¥680 for a basic bowl, this ramen will keep both your stomach and your wallet happy. Apart from the broth and the price, the reason I like this shop is because of its noodles. They are at a perfect chewy al dente with just the right amount of thickness. Served simply with your usual chashu (seasoned sliced pork), negi (sliced leeks), and three sheets of nori (dried seaweed), you have the option to add your own garlic and spices. The downside? It is closed on Wednesdays.
This next restaurant comes at a close second for my favorite bowl. Located near the top of Hachimanyama Park on Keirinjo-dori (競輪場通り), Kaze no Mori (風の杜, Map) is one restaurant that specializes in Tonkotsu Ramen. When you arrive you can either sit at a booth, or around two large wooden tables they have in the center of the floor. Since this restaurant is a bit more spacious it is better for larger groups. On these tables are a variety of Japanese pickles to choose from along with seasonings to add to your ramen when it arrives. If you ask the wait staff they will suggest that you choose between their white (白風) and black style（黒風）, but I prefer the Tonkotsu Miso taste. The highlight of this bowl is the char-grilled chashu that gives the bowl a smoky flavor. Loaded with toppings this bowl includes an egg, kikurage mushrooms, bamboo slices, negi, and a bit of sauce to top the chashu. A bit pricier than the first option, a bowl at this place will cost you around ¥1,000.