There are a few things you need need to know going in. 1) There will be a wait. How long depends on when you get there. The queue starts to form before the 5:00 p.m. opening on most nights, but it flows surprising well (we arrived on a Saturday at 6:30 p.m. and waited about an hour from the time we stepped up to the line to the time we sat down). There is counter service where the order is placed, an expeditor directs those standing in line where they will sit, food comes out promptly--you eat and you make way for others in the line. It could be the best place for a first date or the worst, depending on how you look at it. 2) Chopsticks only (soup spoons are provided too). 3) No to-go orders; bring your own tuperware (or delegate someone in your party while the rest stand in line to run over to Target in the same shopping center for containers) if you fear you will not finish the beloved ramen. 4) Slurp--it is expected (see Tampopo for further explanation). 5) Sharing ramen is forbidden.
Now that we have that out of the way, let's focus on the food. We ordered a few of the appetizer, or small bite items. Spicy Edamame is pan seared soy beans tossed with citrus, jalapeno, sea salt and shichimi spice. These were some of the best edamame I have had. Beware, they are lip burning spicy. Have lots of water on hand while eating this. Gyoza Potstickers are pan seared pork dumplings with soy vinegar dipping sauce. This is another great appetizer, but to be honest, I think we may have over done it on the apps. If I had to forgo one, this might be it for no other reason than to leave nothing behind (remember, no to-go items). The Munchie Katsu Slider is breaded and deep fried burger patty served on Hawaiian roll with katsu sauce and side of Japanese potato salad. I didn't even bother with the potato salad to be honest. The bread of the slider was soft and slighty sweet with the crunchy, juicy mini burger and savory sauce inside. You will notice there is no picture of the slider, that is how quickly it disappeared. A definite favorite among the small bite items.
Finally, the ramen. #1 Tonkotsu Original is a creamy pork noodle soup with pork belly, marinated egg, wood ear mushroom and scallions. This was the ramen bowl my son and I each ordered. Words like "rich, creamy, woodsy" kept coming up to describe the flavorful contents of the bowl, but none of those can fully encapsulate the deliciousness of this dish. The Japanese word, umami, which can be translated as "pleasant savory taste" is perhaps the best one I can think of to define this ramen. In the event you finish all your noodles before your broth is gone, you can order Kaedama, or extra noodles. That is only if you have a hearty appetite. My husband ordered the #2 Tonkotsu Sho-Yu which is Tonkotsu Original with a special blend of soy sauce. pork belly, marinated egg, bamboo, crushed peppercorns, scallions and roasted seaweed. I wasn't able to taste it (remember rule #5), but he assured me it was incredibly good. I am looking forward to our return visit to Ramen Tatsu-ya since cooler weather is here, now known as ramen weather. (Cathy)