I remember in our early explorations of Rotterdam, the Ramen Marauder and I were on the tram heading back home. We passed the sign for Tensai Ramen, and we quickly saved it on our Google maps. Later, it popped up on my Instagram newsfeed from Liyen Food Moments, and recently Lazy Pig Passion mentioned they are making a video about Tensai.
It was all promising information. People were raving about the newly opened ramen shop and only had good things to say.
What made me less eager to try it were the pictures of the noodles. Why weren't they yellow? Why didn't they look curly and springy? I had read that they were made in the shop, but I just wasn't convinced by the photos that these noodles were worthy of my attention.
But since when did food photography become the authority on what to eat? I kept reading that these noodles had great texture, and that this is quickly becoming a favorite spot in Rotterdam, so we checked it out.
At this bustling intersection by the Beurs train station, Tensai Ramen has large windows that keep the noise to a minimum. The inside is modestly decorated, with (as seemingly always) a handful of tables.
We went around 4 p.m., when the restaurant was at a lull. By the time we left, however, the tables were filling up quickly, and some were eager to take our table.
Look at this bowl of black tonkotsu ramen noodles. When I look at this picture, I see that perfect little soft boiled egg nestled in a bed of broth, the corn gently sprinkled across the bottom of its yolk. A couple strips of bamboo lay beside it, sharing a piece of nori like a pillow, resting on a bed of noodles. It's peaceful, like the calm before the storm of my spoon and chopsticks coming to destroy.
This is a bowl of ramen that you will want to savor. Enjoy a spoonful of just broth, then maybe a pinch of noodles, followed by a spoonful of broth, noodles, and a few kernels of corn. Take a moment to appreciate the texture of the bamboo and the black mushrooms, contrasted with the crunch of the corn and the spring of the noodles.
I always try to save the egg towards the end of my ramen experience because I want to savor the richness the yolk adds to the broth. Sure, I could beat it up with my chopsticks and mix it into the soup to be enjoyed throughout the meal, but more often than not, I just can't. The few bites I was able to take of that egg, accompanied by a spoonful of broth and noodles, were luxurious.
I highly recommend Tensai ramen for the seasoned ramen eater. A newbie will also enjoy it, but beware: it may ruin other ramen shops for you.
Tensai Ramen, Schiedamsedijk 1, Rotterdam, Netherlands 3011 EB