I’ve lately been using Ōtsu, Shiga Prefecture as a base for Kansai area activity, as the train choices make it easy to access many places I tend to visit, including in Ōtsu itself, without the hotel prices and availability issues common to nearby tourism hot spots. As with any place I stay, once I’ve gotten the basic geography and essentials figured out, my thoughts turn to noodles. Ramen Morin (ラーメンモリン) is my first sampling of what’s available in this prefectural capital on the south shore of Lake Biwa.
The chashu mori is no light otsumami, it’s a mountain of meat on top of a mountain of bean sprouts. This works out well when you’re hungry.
The shop has two soup bases. I went with the niboshi soup and shoyu tare, which you can also get as shio. I’ve developed a habit for the dried sardines, as it’s one of the flavors that just don’t seem to travel out of Japan. Though this one isn’t as intense as the denser niboshi soups happening around Kantō, the grassy and bitter notes make the shoyu more complex, like a good chūkasoba.
The rest of the bowls are based on a more typical chintan soup, which comes as shio, shoyu, kotteri shoyu (pork back fat added) and kokuni (lake country) black. That last one is really interesting, a sub-style specific to Shiga Prefecture that features chintan flavored with locally produced tamari, a thicker, less salty soy sauce with little to no wheat used in production. This is paired with wavy noodles and back fat. Lots of reasons to go back.