Tonchin is a tonkotsu ramen joint; the best kind of ramen, if you ask me. Tonkotsu ramen is a pork-bone-broth ramen from Kyushuu (the best is in Kumamoto). There is a more famous place at Ikebukuro, Mutekiya. However, being that it has been labeled by some as the best in Tokyo, you can expect to wait around dinner time. However, Tonchin is a good alternative and is no more than a 5-minute walk from the East exit of Ikebukuro station (the same side as Mutekiya).
We were lucky enough to walk right in at about 19:45 on a Saturday night. At the same time, Mutekiya had a 30-minute wait. Since I live in the area, there was no way I was going to wait around. I was hungry, and I wanted my ramen NOW. By the time we were half-way through our food, the place was full with a couple of folks loitering around waiting for a seat, so it seems we timed it pretty well.
Like most ramen joints, you buy your food tickets from a machine just inside the entrance. There is no English, but you can always go by the pictures. If my memory serves, the top row of buttons are the tonkotsu ramen: from the top left the first three buttons are large (大), medium (中), and small/regular (並); the difference being the amount of noodles. I chose medium which I easily demolished. If you want more meat (slices of roast pork, チャーシュー, 'chashu') like I did (or any other toppings like boiled eggs), you need to purchase a topping ticket/s. Look for the two buttons near the bottom with a picture of five slices of meat (チャーシュー). Turn around and give the staff your tickets and then sit down where they will have already set glasses of water.
All in all, the noodles were reasonably thick and the broth was tasty. The chashu wasn't the best I've had, but it was definitely good quality; Chashu is one way to pick a nasty place from a good place like this. The staff were energetic and efficient as you'd expect. There was no gyoza, which was the only disappointment.
Once done, we went for ice cream at the nearby Baskin Robbins.
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