This is one of many posts that are part of the series Jen's Guide - Best Places to Eat in Hong Kong for Visitors
This is the scene I see a lot when I head out from my apartment - a line of hungry diners waiting patiently for a taste of 1-Michelin starred Tsuta Japanese Soba Noodle.
I don't blame them. I have personally been drawn into that same line (without planning to!) simply because of the intoxicating truffle smell that wafts out through the doors. It totally draws you in.
Tsuta has become my all-time favorite noodle shop in Hong Kong.
This place made history when it became the first ramen shop in the world to earn a coveted Michelin Star (at its first location in Japan in 2012). Since then, diner have been willing to line up, sometimes TWICE to deal with Japan's weird early morning ticketing system, in order to get a taste of this elusive truffle-infused ramen.
In the spring of 2017, Hong Kong was blessed with the opening of TWO Tsuta locations, one in Tsim Sha Tsui Harbour City, the other at V Point in Causeway Bay.
Tsuta's noodle soup is different and special in many ways.
First of all, the broth for their signature Shoyu (soy sauce) ramen is lighter because it is a chicken-based broth. Thirty eight whole chickens (!), fresh clams, and dried fish are simmered for nine hours to create this signature clear broth. The broth includes three types of soy sauce (several of which are aged), as well as a generous dollop of black truffle paste! They only make enough broth for 400 bowls of noodles, so once those bowls are served, they are done for the day.
The menu has two other broths. There is a Shio (salt) ramen that's made from a seafood based stock and incorporates two types of salt (Okinawa and Mongolian). This version has a green olive paste instead. This one was nice, but I much preferred the Shoyu version.
Additionally, there is a Miso version. Made with Haccho Miso from the Tokushima Prefecture, this version incorporate porcini mushroom oil and hot sauce. This one is also tasty (a bit heavier), but again, my favorite is still the shoyu.
The noodles are made with a blend of four different types of wheat and whole wheat flours and freshly made by machine on the premises. Tsuta calls its noodles soba because its founder, Chef Yuki Onishi, wanted to indicate that the dish has roots in Japan, not China (where the word ramen originates).
You can add additional toppings such as seasoned bamboo shoots (menma) or a marinated soft boiled egg (ajitama). I would highly recommend the marinated egg, which has a beautiful, golden oozy yolk that adds another dimension to the soup.
There is a choice of two sizes. The smaller one includes one slice of chashu pork ($98 HKD), while the larger one includes four slices ($134 HKD). I usually like to get the small one plus an egg and bamboo ($113 HKD), while Bryan will order the large with the works (egg, bamboo, etc) plus he'll add extra order of noodles.
They also have a few sides, such as chashu over rice, in case a bowl of ramen is not enough food.
Lines will get long during meal times. I've found that if I show up to the TST one around 11:30AM, I sometimes don't have to wait at all, and if I do wait, it's for less than half an hour. They'll give you a menu while you're in line. I typically get handed an Chinese language menu and I'll just ask for an English language one. I believe they also have a Japanese one and maybe even a Korean one.
You order and pay before you sit down. Once you sit, you just wait for your soup noodle to arrive. When you finish, you can just leave. The turnover is pretty quick there. People eat their soba and then they leave.
I love this place and I have probably come here four times since moving to Hong Kong (and I've only lived here for 6 weeks!). For a smaller eater like me, I like how they have the single meat smaller sized option. I also like the lighter broth (I don't feel heavy and gross after eating it), as well as the healthier soba noodle. Best part, of course, is the heavenly truffle flavor that permeates everything.
Definitely highly recommended!
Tsuta Japanese Soba Noodle (Tsuta Ramen)
Shop 2, G/F, 18 Tang Lung Street, Causeway Bay
Shop G111, G/F, Gateway Arcade, Harbour City, 3-27 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui