There are many lovely areas to stay around Kyoto but I always gravitate around Kyoto Station.
Aside from being convenient to all types of transportation, the station has a number of very good restaurant choices.
My favourite part of the station is Ramen Koji or Ramen Alley on the 10th Floor.
There are 8 ramen restaurants, all of them acclaimed from various prefectures around Japan.
I've tried 4 of them and on this trip, I managed to add the 5th place to my list.
Kamigata Zanmaiya is a branch of an Osaka ramen shop. Watercolours of famous places in Osaka decorate the walls.
There are always queues in front of all the shops but this was Monday night and more quiet than usual. After choosing from the ubiquitous plastic samples outside and paying for our choices through the vending machine, we gave the stubs to the waiter who led us to our table.
You can order the ramen alone or you can add a few hundred yen and make it a set -- with four pieces of gyoza and a small bowl of rice.
Aside from gyoza, karaage is also a good side dish to ramen -- not to mention it goes perfectly with cold beer. Zanmaiya's karaage was crunchy golden brown and seasoned with the right amount of salt, garlic and ginger. I just wish there were more pieces on the plate!
Zanmaiya has a variety of ramen and tsukemen to choose from.
However, I prefer my ramen broth to be clear with a smooth and light finish so I ordered the
simplest -- shio ramen.
I enjoyed the clean essence of pork bones enhanced by the slight saltiness of niboshi or dried sardines. The chashu was a bit too thin for me but the noodles were curly, not too thick and had just the right bite of chewy springiness.
All in all it was a satisfying bowl of ramen and a good dinner at Kamigata Zanmaiya -- now to try the last 3 places in Ramen Koji so I can finally say which one is the best for me!