Tonchin has specialized in handmade, medium-thickness curly noodles since it was founded in 1992.
There are many ramen shops in Japan that use handmade noodles, and more than 90% of them use straight noodles. Because of this, many customers consider Tonchin’s curly noodles unusual. They may think that the noodles are “like instant ramen” because they are curly. But customers who have eaten our ramen often comment that our noodles are “particularly delicious.” Many people are probably aware that curly noodles have the characteristic of picking up the soup more easily. But this isn’t the only reason why Tonchin’s noodles are curly. We’d like to introduce four separate factors: “breathing,” “freshness,” “medium-thickness curls,” and “hand-kneading.”
The flavor base of Tonchin’s ramen soup consists of three elements: noodles, sauce, and soup. We place importance on the integration of these three. Before the noodles are put in, with the sauce and the soup alone, you can taste the soy sauce and pork bone, and there is no integration of flavors. When the noodles are boiled and immersed in the soup, they take in the flavors of the soy sauce and the pork bone. Also, the taste of the noodles is also released into the soup. At Tonchin, we call this the “breathing” of the noodles. This “breathing” results in the Tonchin flavor, a balanced joining of these three tastes.
At Tonchin, where we place importance on the “breathing” of the noodles, we always use fresh noodles. Noodles “mature” with the passing of time, changing their texture. If you think of fresh noodles as a sponge, with the passage of time the noodles become like rubber. It goes without saying that fresh noodles are better at soaking up the soup. So we specialize in freshness, and have continued to make our noodles in-house for twenty-five years.
The texture of noodles differs depending on thickness and curliness. This also affects the sense of satiation as you eat ramen. Straight noodles are made so as to enjoy their firmness and the aroma of wheat flour.
Our curly noodles are made for the sake of enjoying the lightness of the noodles in the mouth, their comforting elasticity when chewed, the flavor of wheat flour, the flavor of the soup that permeates the noodles through “breathing,” and the smoothness of the noodles when swallowed. Tonchin’s noodles are made with all of these factors in mind.
If the curliness is too slight, the noodles lack firmness and do not swell, giving them a weak texture. On the other hand, noodles that are too curly become overly firm and have a rough, heavy texture. If the noodles are too thin, they become textureless and bland, and if they are too thick, they have too much texture and are tiring to eat.
The form of noodles varies depending on temperature and humidity the day they are made. Even the hardness of the dough, the thickness of the noodles, and the curliness change. We keep the quality of the noodles consistent by adjusting the amount of water added and the length of the mixing process in a timely manner. Being able to flexibly respond to daily variations is a major reason why we have continued to make our noodles by hand.
Another factor in making noodles is loosening and kneading the prepared noodles by hand. This is a step that is most likely not taken at ordinary noodle factories. But this step is a major feature of Tonchin’s noodles.
We prepare the noodle dough and cut it into noodles with a blade. Then the noodles are curled by applying pressure with rubber. This is a normal step in manufacturing curly noodles. The noodles are cut at sharp angles by the blade, so each noodle has protruding corners. If they are boiled and eaten as-is, they have a rough and angular texture.
At Tonchin, we knead the noodles while coating them with flour and separating them. Doing this gives the noodles roundness and makes them light and easy to boil. This is the extra effort we take to create Tonchin’s noodles.
Why we have continued to make our noodles by hand
One major reason we have made our noodles by hand since our founding is that “Because we are a ramen shop, the noodles, the soup, and the other ingredients are all made by hand.” At that time, there were not many shops that made their noodles by hand, and nearly all ramen shops purchased their noodles from noodle companies.
“If a ramen shop only makes the soup, it’s just a soup shop.” We make all of our ingredients in-house, so we can create the flavor that we imagine. And we can offer this flavor to our customers with confidence.
We intend to continue to aspire to this flavor. We’ve eaten at a lot of different places, but we always end up coming back here. We have continued to move forward and expand for twenty-five years while maintaining the Tonchin flavor.
“Hand-made,” “freshness,” and “customer satisfaction” are the principles of Tonchin. Not only in Japan, but in China, Taiwan, the US, and countries where we will open branches in the future, we want to continue to expand our circle of happy customers and friends on the basis of these principles.