Address: 3223 S McClintock Dr, Tempe, AZ 85282
I don’t care if this place is authentic or not, it’s very original and the food is extremely good. Located on McClintock and Southern, I have gone here 5 times in the past 4 months. I find it extremely warming, the quality of food is superb. I hear they make their noodles fresh, the meat is excellent and the eggs are cooked to absolute perfection.
More about the eggs: I have never tasted eggs that well-cooked so consistently. They might have used a Sous Vide method to control the yolk temperature and mastered that because the eggs have a smooth and silky yolk when you cut through the perfect white.
Funny story is that they had to close for 2 weeks because a car ran into the restaurant. I was devastated that day.
During my time here, I’ve tried a variety of different dishes. My best advice is only get the noodle soup as my friend got the rice bowl and wasn’t very impressed. They add pickled ginger to all of their soups which I find kind of strange, but it’s ok to eat.
Tonkatsu Ramen – This standard 8 dollar ramen is the staple of the restaurant. Has the standard stuff like the pork, nori and egg. The broth is rich and you can tell by the creamy look, that it is balanced and well prepared.
Spicy Tonkatsu Ramen – I ate this and then a friend of mine ate this. She said it was spicy enough, and I agree with that.
Spicy Miso Ramen – When there’s Tonkatsu, there’s usually Miso Ramen on the menu. Miso is a fermented soy paste used in a variety of soup broths that give Ramen a distinct soy taste. Not as good as the Tonkatsu Ramen but still pretty good. Doesn’t look as decorative as the other Spicy one and I didn’t feel like it was as spicy.
Curry Ramen – It’s alright but not as good as the soup. It’s basically Japanese curry stew with noodles. If you’ve ever had the curry blocks in Asian markets, it’s pretty much that. The curry was alright, I would say even a bit cold, but I don’t think I’d get this again. I think only the ramen soups for me.
Seafood Ramen- The seafood ramen includes onions, seaweed (nori), a good seafood broth, chewy fish cakes, and 3 beautifully deep fried prawns. The prawns stole the show for me because of how crispy they are. I could even eat the head but I did not want to freak out my guest. No egg in this one and I don’t think I would eat regularly.
Takoyaki – Takoyaki is an octopus dumpling and a perfect takoyaki should have a slightly crunchy exterior, a doughy inside and a chewy octopus bite. Tampopo’s takoyaki fulfills those requirements and I think it’s a very good appetizer. Everyone should order this one. For $6 for 8 pieces, it’s a steal.
Fried Chicken – Tampopo’s fried chicken reminds me a lot of Korean fried chicken which is awesome and doesn’t exist in Phoenix. The chicken wings are extremely crunchy. The only disappointing thing I have with these chicken wings is that the sauce is kind of this watery soy sauce they drizzle on it. They need a thicker syrup.
Tampopo is a colorful restaurant that tries to incorporate the theme of a noodle stall. It has lime green walls with red and black props such as clocks and chairs. Their noodle machine is located to the right of the door way. The chefs are visible like a sushi bar and people can sit to watch the chefs work their magic.
I feel Tampopo’s color scheme is fresh, new and has a hint of quasi Japanese feel. However, I feel that it can be very cramped at times. They have this island right in the middle of the restaurant that really makes the whole place feel crammed. I give them points for uniqueness and versitality of this long plastic rectangle in the middle of the restaurant.
There is a wooden ladle in Tampopo’s silverware that I find very authentic. A large, wooden, shallow ladle is used to drink the broth of the soup. A lot of my friends look confused when they see it but for me, it brings a sort of imprint that whenever I go to Tampopo, I see a wooden ladel.
If there was one thing I’d ding Tampopo for is that the service is subpar. The servers get stressed out very easily when it gets busy so it can be a long time before you get your food because it is so crowded. Of course, this is a new restaurant so it does take time. I find service a bit rude when I’ve been there but maybe they get that a lot.
However, when it’s not super busy, the servers are pretty on point. It just takes practice some times.
The ramen parts are generally $8 to $12 dollars. I find it definently affordable. What can really get you are the addons on the back so be careful about this. The addons that are worth the price according to my friends are the condensed broth ($1.00) and the extra noodles and meat.
What’s interesting about Tampopo, besides its simple soup selection, great appetizers, and the other options, is that on the back of the menu, they have addons that can enhance your ramen experience. Most people suggest getting the concentrated broth. I find no difference in it but some people swear by it. It’s only a buck so it’s not a big deal.
I love Tampopo as a legit noodle shop that prides itself for its quality. In my opinion, you should only buy the appetizers and the noodle soups here because the other entrees are subpar. Overall, I am a huge fan of this restaurant and I like to take people here often because of its uniqueness and originality.