Kitakata Bannai is a tonkotsu ramen chain specializing in thick noodle ramen topped with yakibuta chashu in clear soup and a surprisingly deep, hearty flavor.
It really is superb. The ramen appears to be a real light soup, but the flavor is intense. I had to research to be sure, but it is tonkotsu ramen — from looking at it you’d guess a shoyu base.
The yakibuta [焼き豚] (grilled pork) chashu on top is their specialty — and wow, they really load the dish up.
It’s so tender it practically melts in your mouth. The flavor goes absolutely perfect with the thick noodles too.
Oh, and you can get a side dish of rice, the pork is perfect with rice too.
Is Kitakata English friendly?
The Kabukicho branch I visited was not — at least, they didn’t offer an English menu (though, I don’t need one — maybe they picked up on that).
The menu and everything around is in Japanese only — including the sign outside. So if you don’t know what you’re looking for by appearance, it may be a little difficult to dine here.
But the menus do have great photos so it isn’t terribly difficult.
Is it good for groups?
Yes and no. It’s a very busy chain and most seem to be quite small. The one in Kabukicho is two stories, but still very cramped. A large family (more than 4) would feel a bit of a squeeze.
But at least they do have table seating and the tables can be pulled together.
How much does Kitakata Bannai cost?
It’s about as much as any other quality ramen shop. Budget for around ¥1,000 per person — and, as always, keep in mind paid parking/train fare to get here.
They don’t have parking and don’t accept credit cards here.
Below is a map showing more locations for Kitakata Bannai. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Google Maps will load them all.
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