A member of a ramen restaurant family that prides itself on mystery (there is actually a ramen shop in the group that has no name) Wajouryoumen Sugari 和醸良麺 すがり could easily be considered the best ramen in Kyoto.
Very close to Karasuma Station 烏丸駅, this place is tucked away in a small alley that would be impossible to find without a map. In a reconverted machiya with an unassuming facade, the best way to spot it is to look for the queue that starts before opening time.
While Google says Sugari opens at time, it’s more accurate to say they open when they’re ready. We were the 2nd or 3rd group in line, and they were about 10-15 minutes late opening.
We were led down a tiny hallway with a machine at the end to take our order. They had an English option, which made ordering easier, but it still took us a few tries to figure it out because I’m tech illiterate. There were a few options to choose from. There was regular ramenらーめん, tsukemen つけ麺, and curry tsukemen カレーつけ麺. There were three choices of meat, offal ホルモン, chashu チャーシュー, and wagyu 和牛. There was also a choice of noodle, regular or yuzu flavored. I got the regular ramen with wagyu and yuzu noodles and a soft-boiled egg. Josh got regular ramen with chashu and regular noodles. The specialty is the curry tsukemen with offal. We exited the hallway into a small, enclosed garden space. You wait here until there is room along the bar in the restaurant, but since we got there early, we went in straight away.
This was the most beautiful ramen shop I’ve ever seen. Dim lights illuminated a warm wood interior and each seat had a pullout drawer full of interesting spices to further customize the ramen. The tsukemen was served in adorable grey Staub pots. Even if you don’t like ramen, going here would be worth it for the atmosphere alone.
If you’re wondering about the ramen, it was great. The soup is a thick gravy made from mackerel stock. It’s almost gritty it’s so thick. I will say if you don’t like fish, you will probably not enjoy their ramen. If you want, try the curry tsukemen, but my experience with tsukemen is that the fish flavor is stronger due to the noodles not being submerged in the broth. My beef was tender and Josh’s chashu was melt in your mouth soft. I was excited about the yuzu noodles but the soup was too rich for the subtle yuzu flavor to shine through.
Overall, this was one of the best bowls of ramen I’ve had in Japan. I’m still looking for good noodle shops in Kobe, but in the meantime I might just have to keep getting my fix in Kyoto.
Name: Wajouryoumen Sugari 和醸良麺 すがり
Address: 〒604-8222 京都府京都市中京区観音堂町471-1
English: English ordering interface. Some English from staff