If your only experience with ramen to date is the sort college students make in a microwave when they can't afford anything else, the food at Ramen Tatsu-Ya will be an eye-opener. Located in a shopping center off 183 near the Ohlen/Payton Gin exit, Ramen Tatsu-Ya is an up-and-coming "Japanese soul food" restaurant starting to get some serious buzz around town.
The first thing you'll notice upon entering Ramen Tatsu-Ya is that seating is limited and the restaurant is probably packed. When it first opened last year, Ramen Tatsu-Ya had a reputation for lines out the door and around the corner, and in fact the store next door has a sign asking people to line up going the other direction. Due to the limited seating, waitresses may ask you to share a table with other diners or move you to free up space for larger parties. Additionally, Ramen Tatsu-Ya is only open for dinner hours from 5pm to 10pm, Tuesday through Sunday.
It's also immediately clear that Ramen Tatsu-Ya is particular about their food. The menu is limited to a few choice selections, and no to-go orders are offered. They also recommend eating with chopsticks and slurping the broth for best enjoyment. Although the prohibition against to-go orders might sound a bit precious at first, it does make sense that ramen noodles probably don't keep or reheat very well. Luckily the serving sizes are just right, with one bowl of ramen and broth offering a filling meal with no left-overs for most diners.
As for the ramen itself, the broth is a particular treat. The #2 bowl, which comes with pork belly, marinated egg, bamboo, scallions and roasted seaweed, also includes Ramen Tatsu-Ya's signature Tonkotsu broth as a base. Tonkotsu is a "creamy broth made with pork bones" that can take "up to 60 hours" to make according to the menu. The dish pairs nicely with a beer and really hits the spot after a long day.
I visited Ramen Tatsu-Ya on a Tuesday night at around 7pm and didn't have to wait in much of a line before I placed my order. I was seated with two other people at a small table - the waitress checked to make sure it was okay first - and we had a pleasant conversation while I waited for my food. I was immediately impressed as soon as I had my first taste of ramen, and I plan on going back to Ramen Tatsu-Ya very soon. Highly recommended.
Originally published at Austin.com